Even though Iíve run over 50 marathons, Iím a novice at mountain running and an obvious newcomber to PPM. So today I took the cog train up to the summit, a delightful trip, and then hiked down the rocky trail, an experience which made me appreciate the danger involved in this marathon. I also found the plentiful switchbacks interesting, especially the ones above the treeline.
Now Iím the kind of guy who hates to cut cones on the typical marathon route. I will use diagonals but I donít cut corners, even though I see runners who do. I want to test myself against the full 26.2 challenge. So when I read on the incline clubís message board about the Spanish runner cutting switchbacks repeatedly, even after he was warned, I was surprised he was awarded first place, even though he forfeited the prize money in that recent mountain race. The race director explained that this course cutting was commonplace in Europe.
Well, being new to this mountain running, I couldnít help but think about switchback cutting as I waddled down Pikes Peak today. My, how easy it would be on not several, but many switchbacks to cut off ten, twenty, or even 50 yards. But I couldnít do it. If I happened to win an award (which is highly unlikely), it would always be tainted.
Another incident made me think about this Ė the infamous Kip Litton (Google him for an adventure or read the story in the August issue of the New Yorker). The Michigan dentist, new to marathon running, who set a goal of running a sub-three hour marathon in every state. He even did a sub-three at Boston. Only problem was: his photo was missing here and there and sometimes he had different clothes on. How he fooled Boston still baffles me.
Anyway, I hope the Spaniard runs an honest race and I hope any elite who sees him cheat the field has the courage to report him.