Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon
Expo — August 14
Race Weekend
August 15-16

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Triple Crown of Running

What’s its Name?
Part I

No Name Creek used to be referred to as French Creek. But French Creek does not run near the Barr Trail. Making matters even more unclear, an old book was recently discovered that states the real name of the creek is Rock Creek! Even the Forest Service legal description for the old Fremont Experimental Station refers to the creek as Rock Creek. Stay tuned...

What’s its Name?
Part II

The first mountain the races ascend in a series of switchbacks called the Ws is 9,250' Rocky Mountain, not 9,429' Mt. Manitou. Mt. Manitou is one hump over to the northwest. The confusion probably comes from the naming of the now defunct Mt. Manitou Incline. However, that name was probably given to it to tie it more closely to Manitou Springs.
Course and Race Day Information
Race Start(s)
Sweat Check
Race Numbers
Race Rules and Disqualifications
Medical Notes
Aid Stations
Trash and Trash Zones
Cut-Off & Finish Line Closing Times
Transportation Back to Manitou Springs

Race Start(s)
2006 Pikes Peak Ascent Start The starting line for both races is under the banner in the 600 block of Manitou Avenue next to Memorial Park. Parking is limited so please plan your time accordingly and check out the parking page for more information.

Memorial Park is located just east of the Manitou Springs City Hall, Police and Fire Departments in the 600 block of Manitou Avenue. It is approximately 6 miles west of Colorado Springs. See the Expo Page for more information and a map or view a Google Map in a separate window.

Porta Potties Toilets
Toilets will be available near the starting line at Memorial Park.

Please do not “water” the lawns and shrubs of our good Manitou Springs neighbors! While it is obvious to most people, apparently it’s not to everyone and you can be arrested for indecent exposure.

Sweat Check
Pikes Peak Ascent
Although the past few years have made nonsense of our warning, it is most prudent and reasonable to expect there will be wind and cool or cold temperatures on the summit. It is wise for runners in the Ascent race to send some warm clothes with the sweat check team. This personal gear will be bagged, numbered and transported from the start area to the summit. Sweat Check is immediately east of City Hall from 5:30 -7:15am.

A long sleeve shirt, sweat pants, wind breaker, socks, warm hat and gloves are suggested. This is important in the event of a delay in getting transportation down the mountain. Claim your gear at the summit next to the medical building. The Race Committee will make every effort to ensure your goods are delivered to you; however, because the committee can assume no liability for any loss of these personal effects send inexpensive clothing. If you forget or are otherwise unable to claim your gear contact the PPM the week following the race. Items not claimed within ten days will be given to charity.

Pikes Peak Marathon
Sweat Check on Marathon day is immediately east of City Hall from 5:30 - 6:45am. Claim your gear at the finish line area (check with the merchandise sales folks). Runners may change apparel at the summit, but race personnel cannot transport your gear. In other words, you must make your own arrangements to have someone at the summit with your belongings.

How NOT to Wear Your Race Number!
How NOT to wear your race number

Race Rules and Disqualifications

  • Race Rules:
    • You must wear your assigned runner number on the front of your clothing in plain view during the race.
    • Headphones are prohibited in the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon
    • Headphones are prohibited.
    • You must be at least 16 years old on race day to compete.
    • All participants are subject to drug testing pursuant to USDA standards and procedures.
    • Poles, walking sticks and such are prohibited.
    • Trash, cups, gel packets etc. must be deposed of within the trash zones at the aid stations.
    • Do not run or walk abreast in pairs or groups when it will impede other runners.
    • If you stop to take a photograph, tie your shoelace, etc. please step out of the way of the other competitors.
    • No dogs, horses or animals of any type are permitted.
    • Slower runners must stay on the uphill side of the trail so faster runners may pass.
    • In the marathon, downhill runners have the right of way—uphill runners must yield to downhill runners.
    • In the marathon, runners may change apparel/gear at the summit. However, the race committee will not and can not be involved in providing or transporting the apparel/gear.
  • Grounds for Disqualification:
    • Using a race number assigned to another person. Both the runner and the person who gave away their number will be banned from future races!
    • Failing to submit to drug testing if requested.
    • Un-sportsmanlike conduct.
    • For Ascent, starting in Wave 1 if assigned to Wave 2.
    • Completing only the ascent portion of the Marathon.
    • Failing to comply with directives of race officials.
    • Cutting switchbacks on Barr Trail.
    • Taking oxygen prior to the completion of the race (even if medically necessary).
    • Throwing trash, cups, gel packets etc. on or off the trail outside of the trash zones at the aid stations.
    • Failing to have a pull-tag removed by race personnel at the summit and getting your race bib marked.

Medical Notes
These races are very difficult and physically demanding high altitude runs that should not be undertaken without significant preparation. If you have any medical problems or concerns, consult a physician prior to participating in these races. You are strongly advised to wear sunscreen, sunglasses and cap and you are encouraged to take along light gloves and a windbreaker.

El Paso County Search and Rescue logo Your best defense against most physiological problems is to stay fully hydrated and, for the Ascent, having warm clothes at the summit (use the “sweat check” services). EmergiCare of Colorado Springs will have a medical facility at the finish each day.

El Paso County Search and Rescue will be on the course to help those who need assistance. If you are injured ask someone to notify the next Search and Rescue team stationed along the course. If a serious injury should occur, do not aggravate the situation by attempting a ‘self evacuation.’ Instead, please wait for Search & Rescue.

Course Sweep
To ensure that no runners are left on the trail, El Paso County Search & Rescue will make a sweep of the course each race day. Please follow their instructions.

Clear weather during Pikes Peak Ascent These runners were finishing in 4 hours

Snow during Pikes Peak Ascent These runners were finishing in 5 hours
Any Questions?
In a word, UNPREDICTABLE. Pikes Peak can create unusual and rapid weather changes above treeline. The temperatures may vary as much as 50 F (23 C) between Manitou Springs and the upper parts of the mountain. Those who ran in recent years can attest that it can be downright nasty—particularly above treeline. In 2004 we had 6-8" of new snow on the Peak on Ascent morning. In 2005 hundreds of runners were stranded on the summit when a huge storm hit the mountain! Every day on Pikes Peak can bring rapid, frequent and extreme weather changes. BE PREPARED!!

Some weather specifics: Mean temperature at the start line at 7am is usually 60 - 70 F (15 - 21 C) and at the summit 35-55 F (2-12 C) by 10am, not counting wind chill factors. Late afternoon temperatures in Manitou Springs in August can reach the 90s F while above treeline storm cells can drop ambient temperatures into the 30s F. Humidity normally is <15% (usually much less at higher elevations).

The vagaries of the weather on the upper portion of Pikes Peak cannot be overemphasized. Chilling rain, snow and sleet showers, high winds and dramatic temperature changes frequently occur in August.

Lightning Stike near Pikes Peak Lighting strike not too far from the Barr Trail
Lightning is not being lumped in with weather because it can come out of the blue! Indeed, the possibility of lightning poses the single greatest threat to runners, especially above treeline. Mother Nature is very unpredictable regarding this element! If you are caught in severe lightning it is best for a group to spread out and crouch down with your feet planted on anything that will insulate you from the ground (jacket, fanny pack, etc.). Try not to be the tallest object in the vicinity!

We have, and probably will again, turned people back down the mountain at the A-Frame due to the threat of lightning higher up. Search and Rescue receives up-to-the-minute weather data. Please follow any directions they give you.

Click here for a photo of what happens to your shoes when you are close to a lightning strike while running.

The Course
Because the Ascent and Marathon are so unique and so physically demanding when compared to other half-marathons or marathons, having a general understanding of the courses is the key to planning your training.

The Ascent or ascent portion of the Marathon can take as long, or longer, than a full flatland marathon. In fact, many flatlanders find that it can take much longer! On the other hand, if you have trained in high altitude it is possible to go a little faster than your flatland marathon time during the Ascent. In general if you live at altitude go with your flatland marathon time. Otherwise, add 1/2 hour to your flatland marathon time. The average descent time is about 63% of the runner’s Ascent time. In other words, the downhill is not free and there are even a few ups on the way down!

What follows is a brief overview of the course. For a more comprehensive version head to Skyrunner.com.

Google Earth View of the Pikes Peak Marathon course
You can view the course in 3D if you have Google Earth.
After Google Earth starts press the play button to do a flyover of the course.
Google Earth view of the Ascent and Marathon course.

Elevation gain (start to summit) is 7,815' (2,382 meters); the start is at 6,300' (1,920m) and the summit is 14,115' (4,302m). The Ascent finish/Marathon turnaround is at approximately 14,050'. The Ascent (and ascent leg of the Marathon) has very few stretches which are not going uphill with the average percent grade being 11%.

The races begin in front of the City Hall in Manitou Springs, a city of some 5,000 population which is located approximately 6 miles west of Colorado Springs, Colorado. While both races begin in the city (and the Marathon finishes in the city) the majority of both races are run on Barr Trail in Pike National Forest. Barr Trail is a US Forest Service trail that is on the east face of Pikes Peak and Rocky Mountain. The race courses do not use any part of the famed Pikes Peak Highway (which is on the north and west flanks of the mountain). The trail is often narrow, winding, and may be gravel, rocks or dirt with sharp turns and abrupt changes in elevation or direction. However, there are no exposed ledges so there is no danger of falling off the trail!

Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon course

From the Manitou Springs City Hall the races proceed west on Manitou Avenue for 0.42 miles to Ruxton Avenue. At Ruxton the course turns west for 0.8 mile to (and past) the Cog Railway Depot to Hydro Street. To this point there has been an elevation gain of approximately 300' for an average percent grade of 4.5%. At .23 of a mile past Hydro Street, or 1.45 miles total, the asphalt ends and the course continues on a dirt/gravel road which parallels Ruxton Creek. At the end of the dirt/gravel road there is a fenced area and the course stays to the north side of the fence before meeting up with a small trail on the right. This trail, commonly referred to as the “spur trail,” connects to Barr Trail in .1 of a mile. From this point to the summit at 14,115' the course follows Barr Trail. The width of the trail will vary as will the grade (steepness) and surface (footing).

From Hydro Street to No Name Creek is 3 miles with an elevation gain of 2,150' for an average percent grade of 13.4%. From No Name Creek to Barr Camp is about 3.3 miles with an elevation gain of 1,450' for an average percent grade of 8.3%. This is the fastest section of the course and even includes several slight downhill sections roughly 1.25 miles above No Name Creek. Barr Camp to the A-frame shelter at treeline is another 2.6 miles and 1,800' in elevation gain for an average percent grade of 13.1%. From the A-frame to finish/turnaround (~14,050') is about 3.1 miles with an elevation gain of 2,050' for an average percent grade of 12.4%

The footing, or surface, of the trail does vary. In the forested sections it is primarily decomposed rock with a mixture of dirt and loose gravel on the surface with the occasional root or rock protrusion. Above treeline (that is, above the A-frame shelter) the trail is primarily loose gravel with one short section of broken rock (generally referred to as rubble) and the section known as the 16 Golden Stairs being gravel with frequent step-ups of some 10 to 15 inches (the Golden Stairs refers to the 32 switch-backs remaining to the summit). In general, the condition of Barr Trail is excellent thanks primarily to the Friends of the Peak and the Pikes Peak Trail Dogs led by Gail Allen.

The course for the 26.21 mile Pikes Peak Marathon covers the same route as the 13.32 mile Pikes Peak Ascent race but returns down the trail from the summit and finishes at Ruxton and Manitou Avenues in Manitou Springs.

Notes on Passing:
Much of the trail is narrow so passing is difficult or impossible. Experienced runners will advise you not to pass frequently as the result is, in most cases, that you will expend too much energy and then slow down (only to be passed by those you may have just passed). On some sections of the trail your best bet if you get caught in traffic is just to relax and wait for a wider portion of trail! This is particularly true once you leave the road and until you almost get to No Name Creek. There is plenty of time, and room for passing above No Name Creek. A least until you get to Barr Camp.

Finally, many imply a strategy of going out fast on the road to get ahead of the traffic. However, the problem with that strategy is that everyone knows it so those that try this often just blow their race and become the very people they were trying to get ahead of. You have to find a balance between not giving up places and not blowing your race!

What does the elevation do to the atmosphere?
Other than making it thin (the summit will look real close from A-frame!) there is much less oxygen in the air. The percentage of O2 stays the same in relation to other components in the air but the quantity of O2 drops.

Elevation and what it does to air density (in rough terms, temperature being constant, etc):

  • At 6,000' the pressure is 620 mm Hg (that’s 18% less than at sea level)
  • At 14,115' the pressure is 430 mm Hg (that’s 43% less than at sea level)

Humidity is generally less than 15% (much less above 11,500').

Accept the challenge, train hard and then take on Pikes Peak!!

Aid Stations
Locations and distance from start:

  • Spur trail joining Barr Trail (1.65 mi)
  • Incline overlook on Rocky Mountain (2.8 mi)
  • No Name Creek (4.3 mi)
  • Bobs Road (5.3 mi)
  • Barr Camp (7.6 mi)
  • A-Frame (10.2 mi)
  • Cirque (11.9 mi)
  • Summit (13.32 mi)

For the Spur trail and the Incline overlook we will provide water and Gatorade. There will be water, Gatorade, energy bars, fruit, cookies, and pretzels at No Name Creek, Bobs Road, Barr Camp, A-frame, Cirque and the finish of each race. Should you need special nourishment carry what you might need. Runners are encouraged to take in as much fluid as possible, not only water, but electrolyte replacement drinks. Recent data has shown that some competitors may become extremely ill, not just from dehydration, but from low sodium caused by electrolytes being washed out of the system. Drink your Gatorade!

With but one really poor fire road going anywhere near Barr Trail, just HOW is all that drinking water provided at the aid stations?

  • Barr Camp and the A-frame - volunteers arrive Friday and spend the weekend on the mountain and hand pump water through a filter system.
  • Incline, No Name Creek, Bobs Road, and Cirque - the good folks of the Water Resources Department, Colorado Springs Utilities truck it to points where it then is piped (through several thousand feet of hose put in place by the operations team and other volunteers) to aid stations.

Trash and Trash Zones
As part of the race permits with the US Forest Service, we must ensure all litter is removed from the course. It is very difficult to retrieve cups, wrappers and packaging (mainly the tops) from energy gels, especially when they’ve been tossed off the trail. Therefore at each station a trash zone will be clearly indicated. Throwing trash on or off the trail outside of these zones in not permitted!

Cut-Off & Finish Line Closing Times
Intermediate Cut-Offs:
For your safety and that of the race support personnel, there are cut-off times (mandatory turnaround times) at Barr Camp, the A-frame, and, for the Marathon, at the summit. If you do not make the cut-off times you will not be allowed to continue the race. No exceptions! Finish Line Closing:
Anyone who does not cross the finish line by the closing time will not be counted or listed as a finisher. No exceptions! Closing times are as follows:
Ascent 1st wave: 1:30pm - 6h30 minutes
Ascent 2nd wave: 2:00pm - 6h30 minutes
Marathon: 5:00pm - 10 hours

Cut-Off Times and Locations
Race / Start Time Barr Camp
(7.64 miles)
A-frame shelter
(10.2 miles)
Summit and/or Finish
(13.32 / 26.3 miles)
Ascent 1st Wave
3 hours
Ascent 2nd Wave
3 hours
3 hours
6h30mins / 10 hours
*Times may be moved up if severe weather occurs.

Transportation Back to Manitou Springs
Ascent runners will be transported from the summit back down to Manitou Springs. Every effort is made to transport runners off the summit as quickly as possible. However, because YOU MAY EXPERIENCE SHORT DELAYS getting a shuttle off the mountain after the race, it is recommended you use sweat check to have some warm gear at the summit. Please do NOT linger on the summit! Not only because of adverse physical effects but to expedite getting all runners off the summit.

The shuttle busses will stop at the following locations in Manitou Springs: Schryver Park; Memorial Park; Soda Springs Park. These will be the only drop-off points.

Be at the start at 600 Manitou Avenue to see the runners off. The finish of the Pikes Peak Marathon is on Manitou Avenue 100 feet north of the intersection with Ruxton Avenue and next to Soda Springs Park. We ask that all spectators respect the police and follow their instructions regarding crowd control.

To view the finish of the Pikes Peak Ascent or the turnaround for the Marathon take the Pikes Peak highway (a toll road) or ride the cog railway. The race organization does not provide transportation for spectators from Manitou Springs to the summit

For the Ascent you can drive the toll road to Devil’s Playground, about 3 miles from the summit. From there, shuttle vans will take spectators to the summit. There is limited parking at the summit, and spectators won’t be allowed to park at the summit. Pets are not allowed on the shuttle vans.

For the Pikes Peak Marathon you can drive right to the summit as there are no shuttles.

  • Pikes Peak Highway: 719-385-7325 / 1-800-318-9505
    To get to the Pikes Peak highway, take US Hwy 24 west from Manitou Springs to Cascade. Follow the signs from Hwy 24 to the toll highway. Be sure to bring a discount coupon.

  • Cog Railway: 719-685-5401
    The Cog Railway depot is at the western edge of Manitou Springs. Follow Ruxton Ave west from Manitou Avenue. You will need reservations.

Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon start/finish