In the long run, this is turning out to be quite a year for George Ruiz. Literally.
The 45-year-old Carson City running enthusiast ran the Boston Marathon in April and has moved on to longer and better distances, the most recent being a strong effort that gave him seventh-place overall in the 50-K Run of the second annual Tahoe Rim Trail 50K/50-Mile Endurance Runs on July 20. Ruiz finished the route (just over 31 miles) in a time of 5 hours, 59 minutes and 32 seconds -- an improvement of 20 minutes and 12 places from last year.
"That was my goal, to try and break six hours," Ruiz said. "I ran 6:19 last year, so coming in, I was thinking, 'There's no way I can cut that much time off.'"
He did, a considerable achievement because the Tahoe Rim Trail race is no ordinary run through the park. Just consider that the course is run exclusively on trails, starting at 7,000 feet and climbing to a high point of 9,214 feet at the top of Snow Valley Peak.
"I never expected to be top 10 at the Rim Trail, and to break six hours on top of that, I was just blown away," Ruiz said. "I've been blown away by this year overall. It's been very humbling."
After running Boston, Ruiz came back in May and ran 6 hours, 39 minutes to finish 13th overall in 50-K at the Silver State 50/50, held on a rugged 34-mile course on Peavine Mountain above Reno. He also cracked the top 100 at the highly popular Double Dipsea.
"I've pretty much gone faster every race," Ruiz said.
The 50-K was won by Tim Monaco from Oakland, Calif. in 5:11:58. The 50-mile race was won by Bill Finkbeiner of Auburn, Calif., in 8:50:16.
Other local finishers in the 50-K included Jim Nelson of Gardnerville, 13th in 6:13:06; Steve Roark of Carson City, 24th in 6:31:28; Jim Berryman-Shafer of Fernley, 64th in 7:14:51; John Murk of Carson City, 77th in 7:49:26; Keith Dutton of Carson City, 90th in 7:49:26; Claudia Berryman-Shafer of Fernley, 92nd in 7:52:48; Bill Griffin of Minden, 118th in 8:26:04; and Kristal Dutton of Carson City, 135th in 9:11:33.
The oldest participant was Po Adams, 78, of Carmichael, who ran the 50-K in 12:03:11 -- more than an hour faster than her time on the course last year.
In the 50-mile run, Ron Peck of Minden and Lane Swensen of Gardnerville finished together in 13:23:09, good for 51st and 52nd.
The Tahoe Rim Trail endurance runs are difficult, yet worthwhile, according to Ruiz.
"It's just a fantastic event," he said. "Living up here, you can take the beauty of this area for granted, but when you're up on the Rim Trail, the view is absolutely incredible."
What's next for Ruiz? He is entered in the Pike's Peak Marathon on Aug. 18 -- a climb to 14,100 feet and back -- and then he is considering a 50-mile race in Huntsville, Texas, in December.
Local runners will have opportunities to run in various races in the coming month, including the Dirty, Dusty, Damn Hot relay next Sunday, Aug. 11, in Carson City. Race time is 8 a.m. at the El Charro Avitia Mexican restaurant.
The race, open to runners and walkers, offers a 15-kilometer (9.3 miles) relay as well as an ironman event. Relay teams consist of three persons covering a 5-K course.
Plaques will be awarded to the top three in the men's and women's divisions of three age categories: 80-years-and-under (combined ages of all three team members), 81-140 and 140-and-over. There will be a corporate division, as well as the ironman and ironwoman divisions.
Registration is $20 per runner and $100 for teams entered in the corporate division. Proceeds go to the Carson High School ski team.
For more information, call Fleet Feet Sports at 883-3361.
Carson City's Godspeed Wings youth running club will host its Cross Country Cup on Aug. 17 in Carson City.
The event will be a 5-K walk and run and 10-K run, all on cross country courses at Western Nevada Community College. The event starts at 8 a.m.
For more information, call Dennis or Jane Brinson at 883-8477.
Another trail run, the seventh annual Tahoe Trails and Tails, will be held on Sept. 7 at Spooner Lake State Park.
Participants are invited to bring their dogs along (leashes are mandatory).
The event will be a 5-K run/walk around Spooner Lake and the challenging 10-K will be run on the Marlette Lake trail. The race starts at 10:30 a.m. at the park campground.
The entry fee is $25 ($32 if received after Sept. 6).
For more information, call the Kingsbury Veterinary Hospital at 588-3828 or AD Race Services in South Lake Tahoe at (530) 541-1873 (or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Race at the Peak, a 3-mile mountain trail run to benefit the Incline High School cross country team, will be held on Aug. 11 at Diamond Peak Ski Resort in Incline Village.
The race starts at 9 a.m. from Diamond Peak's main lodge and finish at the Snow Flake Lodge. The event is open to runners, walkers and hikers on a course that starts at 6,800 feet and climbs to 7,700 feet
For information, call Brad Kurtz at (775) 833-4710.