For Pikes Peak Marathon & Ascent runners who are fortunate enough to train on Barr Trail, Barr Camp is a common stop on a long run training day. Perhaps as a quick stop to hydrate and refuel, a rest stop after descending the grueling rocky trail below A-Frame, or for a much needed bathroom break, runners find Barr Camp to be a welcome sight on a long day of training for Pikes Peak. Now with the newest resident caretakers, take a few minutes to enjoy a little conversation!
Seth Boster - [email protected]
May 5, 2022 - Originally posted in OutThere Colorado
Pikes Peak has some new residents.
Karla Lowery and Robert Tegtman are Barr Camp's latest caretakers, having moved to the mountain's historic waystation more than a month ago. They are the third young couple in two years to make home in the cabin above 10,000 feet, filling a fulltime position that had been vacant for much of this past winter.
Volunteers tag-teamed to tend to the remote camp while overnight reservations were put on hold — said to be a first for staffing reasons in the life of the camp's managing nonprofit. Reservations are being booked again now with Lowery and Tegtman on hand.
Teresa Taylor, one of those volunteers who lived on the mountain from 2005 to 2013 and has since acted as liaison between caretakers and the nonprofit board, called the new hires "a relief." She hoped they would lend stability that has eluded the camp since 2020.
The pandemic marked the start of unprecedented financial woes for Barr Camp; reservations were put on hold, cutting off revenue the nonprofit depends on to pay caretakers and maintain infrastructure. The pandemic also marked the start of turnover, one caretaking couple in their 20s gone after another in the span of months.
Lowery and Tegtman have stood out for "their maturity level and their ability to think through constructive criticism and respond in a really positive way," Taylor said. "We've had two sets of caretakers where that wasn't always the deal."
Lowery and Tegtman, high school sweethearts from Ohio, had been living in Colorado Springs prior to moving up the
mountain. In emailed responses to questions sent to their post, they said the Barr Camp job was one they "pursued pretty
Tegtman called it a "dream job." He'd been working in a mortgage office after a lifetime of hiking around Colorado and
beyond. "Always wanted to work in a remote wilderness setting," he wrote. "Spent a lot of time staring longingly at Pikes Peak through
my window at work." Tegtman's wife, meanwhile, was walking dogs for a living. Barr Camp was "a very unique opportunity," Lowery wrote, "and
we were eager to connect with people after a few years of COVID."
Connecting with people is indeed part of the job at Barr Camp — greeting and tending to the hiking and camping masses of
The time-honored tasks are many, far more than just managing reservations and inventory: prepping spaghetti dinners and
pancake breakfasts; chopping wood for the burner; breaking ice for water; scooping the compost toilet; serving as a critical
line of communication with search and rescue. Depending on the elements, the solar panel and sewer lines pose other
"It's really hard to explain the job to people, everything it entails," Taylor said. "And it's really easy to romanticize."
The hope is for caretakers to stay at least a year, she said.
As for Tegtman and Lowery, "no timeline," they wrote in an email. "Living in the moment and loving it, cheesy as it sounds."
The Pikes Peak Region is loaded with miles of mountain trail running opportunities. Not only is there the 13 miles of Barr Trail, Pikes Peak's beautiful, winding, technical and oftentimes grueling course of the Pikes Peak Marathon & Ascent, there are literally hundreds and hundreds of miles of amazing trails in the surrounding area. Locals and visitors alike hike, run, and bike these trails year round. With the support of local non-profits and volunteers, trails are built, maintained and preserved for the thousands of people who enjoy them each day. Along with these trail organizations, there are also the folks that are dedicated to the search and rescue efforts when things don't go as planned for trail users. Pikes Peak Marathon is honored to spotlight our non-profit partners that support the many trail systems and the people who use them. We are also proud to give back to these organizations. Between runner donations and organization profits, Pikes Peak Marathon can give back thousands of dollars each year to support these great organizations. To learn more about these non-profits and how you can donate, we've provided summaries and links for each of our partners below:
El Paso County Search and Rescue - A mountain search and rescue unit dedicated to saving lives through search, rescue, and mountain safety education.
We are non-paid professionals. There is never a charge for us to find or rescue people in need.
The team is composed entirely of volunteers and is available upon request to help mountain search and rescue problems anywhere in Colorado under the authority of the local county sheriff or in other states and countries under local authority.
The team is also available to provide information and lectures on mountain safety to interested individuals and groups. Our team prides itself on its many years of humanitarian service and reputation for capability and safety.
In addition to training extensively in mountaineering skills and search and rescue techniques, members work diligently to improve their emergency medical capability. Most members are certified as Emergency Medical Responders, many are Emergency Medical Technicians, and a few are working paramedics or physicians.
Rocky Mountain Field Institute - An organization of stewards and guardians, passionate about caring for the public land we all love and engaging our community to protect it.
The Rocky Mountain Field Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit environmental organization based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, dedicated to the conservation and stewardship of public lands in Southern Colorado. RMFI is committed to protecting and enhancing the ecological health of our land and water resources by completing projects focused on watershed restoration, forest health, and creating sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities. By prioritizing the involvement of community volunteers and youth, RMFI envisions a world where our work fosters vibrant and healthy natural systems that are respected and cared for by the public.
Trails and Open Space Coalition - Committed to preserving open spaces and parks, as well as creating a network of trails, bikeways, and greenways for the Pikes Peak Region. We have a small staff and are governed by a board of directors. As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, the Trails and Open Space Coalition (TOSC) receives NO government funds of any kind. Most of our support comes from individual contributions and people who care about our parks and trails. A smaller part of our revenue comes from grants and fundraising events.
We work cooperatively with local and regional governments, community organizations, businesses, families and individuals who share the vision of an interconnected network of trails, greenways and open space. We advocate, educate, build connections with other groups, fund projects, and create and support volunteer projects.
Barr Camp - The highest hiking cabin in the United States at 10,200 feet.
Barr Camp hosts day-hikers year round. Overnight guests still stay in cabins, shelters and tents, with the summer months busy with visitors from all around the world. An average of 18,000 trail users visit the camp annually and each year about 2,400 guests spend the night.
Palmer Land Conservancy - Protecting where we live and play.
We believe southern Colorado's lands are essential to our identity, economy and quality of life. Since 1977, Palmer Land Conservancy has worked with individuals, private and public partners, and various communities to protect land forever including 20 of your favorite public parks and open spaces, important working farms and ranches, and iconic scenic views. We passionately promote the conservation and enjoyment of our region’s most important natural assets that define why we love Colorado: its natural beauty, locally grown food, and outdoor recreation.
Tayte Pollman, American Trail Running Association
Tayte is a 2x Pikes Peak Marathon runner, placing 4th OA in 2020. He had an impressive overall time of 3:52 with a 2:22:55 ascent and 1:29:05 descent!
This is an excerpt from the "Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon Training Guide" written by Tayte Pollmann for the American Trail Running Association and is reprinted here with permission. To read the entire article visit: https://trailrunner.com/trail-news/pikes-peak-ascent-and-marathon-training-guide/
The Pikes Peak Training Guide
The Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon is one of the most unique trail running events to prepare for. In the training guide below, I outline some of the main challenges to train and prepare for in this race, weather considerations, essential gear and tips for spectators.
Altitude: Few trail races reach an altitude of above 14,000 feet (or 4,000 meters), making altitude training one of the most important aspects of this race. Endurance running performance is negatively impacted by high altitudes. In high altitude environments, there is less oxygen in the air and the body is not able to provide the same quantity of oxygen-rich blood to fuel muscles. At the summit of Pikes Peak, there is approximately 43% less oxygen in the air than at sea level, and running at such an extreme elevation will significantly slow your pace. You may find yourself with dizziness, brain-fog, decreased motor skills and shortness of breath.
Although running at 14,000 feet will never be easy, there are ways to prepare yourself for the altitude. Spending time sleeping or training consistently at high altitude allows your body to adapt to the lack of oxygen in the air. In response to living and training at high altitude, your body will increase red blood cell and hemoglobin production to more efficiently deliver oxygen to your muscles. Such adaptations typically take at least three to four weeks of living at this higher altitude to have full effect, though some athletes will claim to notice adaptations in shorter one to two week altitude training camps.
If you don’t live at altitude or aren’t able to partake in an altitude training camp, many sports scientists suggest that the closest training technique to mimic altitude training is heat training. The added difficulty of running in extreme heat will help prepare you for altitude running and will give you a better idea of what pace you can expect to run on Pikes Peak. Lastly, if you have never been at 14,000 feet, I highly suggest experiencing it at least once before the race. The Pikes Peak Highway and Cog Railway offer visitors of the mountain a quick and easy way to reach the summit by car or train (the Cog Railway requires a reservation). I’d highly recommend showing up to the race a few days early to spend time noticing how your body feels at 14,000 feet. Even just standing or walking around at this altitude may affect your body in interesting ways and it’s good to know these effects before race day.
Vertical Gain: There are few races where the course gains as much elevation in a single push with relatively few downhills. In spite of a few minor dips, the course steadily climbs over 7,800 feet in 13.1 miles from downtown Manitou Springs to the summit of Pikes Peak. Even in Colorado where there are fifty eight peaks over 14,000 feet, there are few trails as long or that climb nearly as much as Barr Trail on Pikes Peak.
For that reason, there is no better way to prepare yourself for the elevation gain of Pikes Peak than by running up it. If you live in the Pikes Peak region, I’d highly recommend running the entire route from bottom to top at least once in your pre-race preparations. Run lower sections of Barr Trail as soon as the snow melts. For the majority of runners in the race without easy access to Pikes Peak, you should prioritize a combination of long, steady paced runs and elevation gain. Treadmills are a great tool for this. For example, plan a two hour treadmill run set to an incline of 5% to 10% grade to give you a good sense for the kind of monotonous uphill grind you will experience on Pikes Peak. For marathon racers in particular, there is also the consideration of training your legs for the downhill. After having completed the marathon course in 2020, I can attest that the most difficult part of the race for me was the later sections of downhill when I felt as if my legs had been beaten to JELL-O by the repetitive downhill pounding. Marathoners should make sure to accumulate plenty of race-paced efforts (not just easy running!) on downhills and/or supplement with gym work that targets quadricep strength and balance. Overall, you should be prepared to run what is likely to be the longest continuous downhill and/or uphill of your life.
Pacing: This is one of the easiest races to have a “blow up” or complete energy bonk, typically due to pacing mistakes. In a typical race, you might push too quickly at the beginning of a race but there are often points in the course on downhills or flater sections where you can recover and settle into your pace. Make sure you concentrate on your pace and don’t get caught up in trying to keep up with another runner and don’t expend energy trying to pass the person in front of you only to slow down once you have overtaken the person. The altitude and relentless nature of the uphill in the Pikes Peak Marathon make it difficult to get out of an energy deficit once you’re in it. For this reason, it’s essential that you begin the race at an easy pace and don’t find yourself struggling too much on the climb to Barr Camp aid station.
Remember that as the altitude increases, so too will the demands on your body. You should attempt to arrive as fresh as possible to the final three miles below the summit. For those who have run a road marathon (26.2 miles), one helpful pacing tip is that you can expect to reach the summit (mile 13.1) in about your expected road marathon finish time. For example, if you run a 3 hour and 30 minute road marathon, you can expect to reach the summit of Pikes Peak in a similar time. If you are an experienced trail runner who excels at high altitude running, you may reach the summit slightly faster than your marathon time. In contrast, if you are newer to trail running it may take slightly longer than your marathon time to reach the summit. In general, don’t let yourself get in a “hole” early on and expect to run slow or hike!
A-Frame: At approximately three miles to the summit, runners reach treeline (11,950 feet) at a section of the course known as “A-Frame.” This section is named after an A-frame shelter located near the course at this point. From A-Frame to the summit is described by many racers as the most challenging part of the entire race. In this section, runners face over 2,000 feet of elevation gain and average grade of 12.4%, all at the highest altitudes of the race. Race leaders have lost their leads in this section or transitioned from smooth running to dizzy hiking in a matter of minutes.
In order to prepare for this section, I suggest two things: save your energy and fuel frequently. Firstly, take your time on your way up to Barr Camp aid station (mile 7.6) and consider taking a short break at Barr Camp to let your heart rate drop before making the climb up to A-Frame. This can help you avoid crashing at A-Frame and give you the extra boost you need for the higher altitudes to come. Secondly, proper fueling is essential above A-Frame. Higher altitudes require your body to burn higher amounts of carbohydrates for fuel and it’s also easier to become dehydrated without feeling thirsty. Both a lack of carbs and fluids can be detrimental to race performance and lead to fatigue. In order to properly fuel at altitude, make sure to take frequent sips (not huge gulps) of water/electrolyte mix and small bites of carbohydrate rich foods at least every 15 minutes.
16 Golden Stairs: The final challenge below the summit is known as the “16 Golden Stairs.” A stair refers to a set of switchbacks in the trail. This section refers to the final 32 switchbacks below the summit of Pikes Peak (you will see a sign “16 Golden Stairs” on the trail, though I’d advise not trying to count all of the switchbacks!). In contrast to the dirt and loose gravel encountered on the majority of the course, the 16 Golden Stairs is largely rocky terrain with frequent rock step-ups of 10 to 15 inches. By this point in the race, your legs are likely to be tired and it can be difficult to manage the more technical terrain. 1995 Pikes Peak Ascent Runner-Up, Dan Vega, gives his advice on managing the Golden Stairs, “All the pain goes away once you cross the finish line, so hold nothing back!”.
In order to prepare for this challenge, I would practice spending time on technical terrain and performing stair climber or “box step up” workouts. Firstly, spending time on technical terrain will help prepare your mind to pick the right lines to take on the trail. Instinctively learning when to step on or around a rock can add up to large energy savings throughout the race. It will also help your muscles become accustomed to the additional balance challenges associated with rocky terrain. Secondly, gym workouts involving stair climbing or box jumping can help you become more efficient at climbing over technical terrain. These workouts aid in recruiting leg muscles needed to manage difficult terrain and will increase your overall leg strength, leading to less fatigue and more graceful running/hiking over rocks.
Weather Considerations: High alpine environments are known for unpredictable and volatile weather conditions. In previous editions of the race, runners have been turned around due to severe lightning storms and the 2018 Pikes Peak Ascent was shortened to a race to Barr Camp (see below) because of potential for a life-threatening hailstorm. Last year in 2021, The Pikes Peak Ascent experienced a snowstorm on the summit while conditions below in Manitou Springs were relatively mild. Many runners were unprepared for the cold when they reached the summit. Even though you are in a race, remember that you are in a potentially dangerous mountain environment where weather can change from beautiful to stormy in a matter of minutes.
In contrast to constant threats of snow, hail, and cold temperatures, the race can also be very hot. Traditionally held in August (though the 2022 edition will be held in September), temperatures can reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit in Manitou Springs during the afternoon. Marathoners should be especially concerned with the weather as they will be on the mountain for the longest and encounter the most extreme temperature changes. Prepare for both the hot and cold!
Lightweight Rainproof Jacket: Due to the threat of storms above tree-line (even on sunny days), it’s a good idea to have a lightweight rainproof jacket with sealed seams. This can protect you from the sting of harsh winds and keep you dry in case of precipitation. Such jackets store easily in a running vest or belt and are light enough not to be a nuisance even if you are aiming for a competitive overall or age-group placement.
Gloves: Many people don’t appreciate the importance of this tip until they fall! Pikes Peak Marathoners should wear gloves on the descent to save their hands from cuts, and scrapes should they fall. It’s extremely common for runners to fall in this race due to the combination of technical terrain on the 16 Golden Stairs, fast descending on loose gravel and scree, and high altitude “brain-fog.” You may fall, but at least you can save yourself from bloody hands! Carry a lightweight pair for the descent, or wear gloves the entire way to retain heat. If your feet, hands, and head are warm you will be much more comfortable.
Fluids and Calories: Running in high-altitude environments requires more calories (carbohydrates in particular) and can more easily cause dehydration. Although the course has eight aid stations, it’s still a good idea to have calories and fluids with you. I’d suggest bringing a bottle, hydration pack, or soft collapsible flask for fluids. For calories, you can either ingest them in your drink mix or bring easily portable items such as gels or chews that store easily in a vest or pockets in your shorts or tights.
PRO TIP: Two-time Pikes Peak Marathon Champion and four-time Pikes Peak Ascent champion, Anita Ortiz, shares her nutrition and hydration tips for the Pikes Peak Marathon: “Nutrition and hydration are extremely important when running the Pikes Peak Marathon. You need to have your ‘wits about you’ at such a high elevation and navigating rocky terrain. I always start eating and drinking early and often, taking little sips and nibbles every five to ten minutes. As I climb higher, it becomes harder to take in the calories, but if I’ve started early and kept at it, I feel okay in the final two miles up to the summit. As I descend, my tummy gets happier again, and I start sipping and nibbling to the finish.”
Trail Running Shoes: Trail running shoes will help you run faster on this course. Trail shoes will provide you with grip on loose dirt and help you better manage roots and switchbacks in the beginning and middle of the trail, as well as the more technical rocky sections towards the summit. If you are running the Ascent, I suggest wearing an extremely lightweight, minimal (low-stack height) trail shoe designed for racing or uphill running in particular. For marathoners, choose a trail shoe that is lightweight but also has a good mix of agility and cushion. The downhill will beat up your feet and you should wear shoes that save you from this repetitive pounding.
Sunglasses and Sunscreen: Sunglasses and sunscreen are important accessories for high-altitude race environments. UV radiation from the sun is significantly more intense at higher altitudes and can cause permanent eye damage, even on cloudy days. Choose sunglasses with higher levels of UV protection such as those with Category Two and Three rated lenses. Likewise, choose a sunscreen product that provides optimum protection and one that allows your skin to breathe and doesn’t come off when you sweat.
Passing: In the Pikes Peak Marathon, you should expect two-way traffic from runners going uphill and downhill. Elite runners reach the summit in at least half of the time that it takes the average runner. If you expect to be in the mid to back of the pack, keep your eyes peeled for the top runners descending at fast speeds even before you reach Barr Camp. The trail can be narrow in many spots, so make sure to use extra caution in these sections. Also, should you choose to pass other runners, make sure to provide the runner you’re passing with a cue such as “On your left!” or wait to pass until you reach wider sections of trail.
PRO TIP: Did you know the entire Pikes Peak Marathon course is on Google Maps street-view? In 2017, the American Trail Running Association partnered with Google Maps to capture 360 degree panoramic images of every foot of the 13.1 mile route. Learn more about the project and see the trail on our Pikes Peak Trekker page - https://trailrunner.com/explore/pikes-peak-trekker/
Manitou Springs resident and 4:36 Pikes Peak Marathoner
Manitou Springs, Colorado just celebrated its first appreciable snow of the season. The later than usual arrival has meant unseasonably warm weather and dry trails to this point. But the next months will hopefully bring more of Mother Nature’s winter confetti.
I’ve found that this time of year can present a motivational dichotomy when it comes to training. On one hand, the turning of the year brings along the excitement of planning and signing up for new races or athletic feats to accomplish. The allure of an idea or potential adventure for the year ahead is excitingly overwhelming. At the same time, as you wake from your day dreaming and glance out the window, the shorter days and single digit temperatures are objectively and concretely confronting you, calling you back down from that idealist realm. Sure those big “A” races are undoubtedly going to be one of the highlights of the year, but they’re months away and the temptation to skip a workout and to fall out of routine can be enticing. A missed run here or there this far out surely can’t jeopardize any race fitness, we reason. And while it is true that taking a few extra rest days isn’t a bad thing, especially if you’re experiencing additional stress and your body needs to allocate more resources to recovery, I’ve found that maintaining some level of consistency to be a worthwhile practice in mitigating injury and optimizing my sense of wellbeing.
Fortunately, there are some simple solutions that I’ve found help me counteract the urge of dormancy. One of which is to identify smaller objectives. If that big race you have in mind for the year is so far out, you can’t even see it on the horizon, consider bringing the horizon closer. This could be in the form of smaller local races to keep you engaged in your training and to help prepare you for a later main-focus event. Alternatively, establishing a monthly challenge can serve in place of a smaller race and still keep you honest with staying active. In 2012, I committed to once a month trips up and down Pikes Peak which gave me at least one long day effort a month to look forward to. This motivated me to not get too removed from the hard earned fitness that I’d acquired over the previous fall. Additionally, while carrying extra layers and gear made the miles pass by slower, working harder with each step meant that I was slowly building strength for the leaner racing months ahead.
Another advantage that comes with winter training for summer races so far into the future is the greater degree of flexibility. There should be less emphasis specificity and more opportunity for freedom with what one considers training. From my perspective, the “WHAT” I’m doing in winter training isn’t as important as simply that I’m “DOING.” I say this not to advocate for copious amounts of ill planned running volume but more as an argument for being active while doing the things that fill your motivational bucket. Winter can be a great time to explore other supplemental pursuits like hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing while still challenging your muscular endurance and aerobic fitness. Even sledding can be a sneaky way to incorporate some uphill interval work as you lug your toboggan up a snowy slope, scream down the hill, and repeat.
Finally, the longer shadows and muffled sounds of winter can offer a unique perspective on the trails you may know by their summer personalities. It’s an ideal opportunity to either slow down or to take moments to pause mid-run and observe things as they are, not necessarily as you remember them. For this reason, a camera is often one of my favorite pieces of running gear because it encourages me to be more aware of my surroundings. Concern with mileage or pace can yield, or at the very least share its importance with witnessing the beauty around you. Maybe you still chase CR’s, but instead of “Course Records,” it’s “Creative Ruminations" that you’re pursuing when you’re out on the trails. If not a camera, perhaps you choose to journal or write a poem about the run after returning home. Whatever your chosen modality, I find winter to be an ideal time to embrace introspection and see what role gratitude and creativity can have in your training.
Seasonal changes are a predictable part of the natural world and should be reflected in our training. While high intensity efforts year round can lead to stagnation, burnout, or injury, too far of a departure from an athlete’s routine can have similarly negative effects in the form of deconditioning and lethargy. I encourage you to take winter as an opportunity to shift rather than stop. To do what you need to make the winter training entertaining.
Work at Barr Camp -
For those of us who have run the Pikes Peak Ascent or Marathon, or who have spent hours training or hiking Barr Trail, we know and appreciate the value of Barr Camp and its caretakers. Perhaps you've used Barr Camp as a turn around point, a rest area along the way to your destination, or even a camp area for an overnight adventure on Pikes Peak. No matter what the purpose of the visit, so many of us have benefited from resting on a bench, use of a restroom, an early morning pancake, and great conversation with the caretakers and other visitors at the camp. No doubt if you have spent any time at Barr Camp, you've met the caretakers and have a true appreciation for all that they do on a daily basis. Those caretakers are a critical piece of our experience at Barr Camp and enjoyment of Pikes Peak. But did you know Barr Camp is now looking for new caretakers? We're taking the opportunity to help spread the word that Barr Camp is hiring! Do you know someone that would love the experience of living and working on Pikes Peak?
See the information below and pass it along!
Barr Camp is hiring a part time or full-time seasonal Caretaker with possible consideration for full-time. Single and couples invited to apply. This position involves living remotely at Barr Camp. Great customer service and handy-person skills required. Must be able to hike 6.2 miles up Pikes Peak and perform physical tasks at 10,200 ft. elevation.
Go to barrcamp.com for information about Barr Camp.
If interested, email a short bio and a request for additional information
to [email protected] and [email protected]
2021 USATF MUT RUNNERS OF THE YEAR STACKED WITH PIKES PEAK VETERAN RUNNERS -
The November 29 article in trailrunner.com by Richard Bolt, highlights the 2021 USATF MUT Runners of the Year. Among the winners are 4x Pikes Peak Ascent Winner - Joe Gray, 3x Pikes Peak Marathon runner - Max King, and 1x Pikes Peak Marathon Runner and 2nd place female finisher - Kasie Enman. Also noteworthy are these nominees who are Pikes Peak winning and veteran runners as well - Allie McCaughlin, Courtney Dauwalter, Preston Johnson, Adam Peterman, David Sinclair, Darren Thomas, Elizabeth Claflin, Kelly Mortenson, Mark Tatum and Chris Grauch. To see the complete list of nominees, go to, https://trailrunner.com/trail-news/murphy-gray-enman-and-king-voted-2021-usatf-mut-runners-of-the-year/?fbclid=IwAR3ZxcAy8gNOrTolUxwdhXaPKWyFRV93R-lNkmi7470anFbr9NSC5fltQmg. Adding to his MUT Runner of the Year accomplishment, Joe Gray was also named the XTERRA Trail Running World Champion! Go to trailrunner.com/trail-news/murphy-and-gray-crowned-xterra-trail-running-world-champions/ to see the complete article.
In addition to conquering America's Mountain, we know Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathoners to do many other great things, congratulations to all!
Richard Bolt - trailrunning.com, American Trail Running Association
Press release from USA Track & Field’s Mountain Ultra Trail (MUT) Council. Based in Indianapolis, USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track & field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States.
The USA Track & Field Mountain Ultra Trail (MUT) Running Council of long distance running has named the 2021 USATF MUT Runners of the Year. Thirty-seven talented MUT runners from twenty different U.S. states received nominations. After reviewing international and national race results, fifteen MUT executive committee members, made up of elite athletes, coaches, administrators and race directors from a dozen USATF Associations, cast ballots for this year’s awards.
The following individuals will be recognized at the USATF Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida this weekend.
The 2021 USATF MUT Runners of the Year are:
Joseph Gray (Colorado Springs, CO). A previous winner of multiple USATF Mountain Runner of the Year awards, Joseph’s 2021 accomplishments include winning the USATF Half Marathon Trail Championships and USATF Mountain Running Championships. He also won the Broken Arrow Skyrace 23K, one of only two WMRA World Cup races held in the United States. Joseph also finished on the top step of the podium at the Pikes Peak Ascent and Cirque Series Arapahoe Basin races. As the defending (2019) World Mountain Running Champion and winner of the Gnar Gnar race this past August, Joseph had also qualified to compete at the first ever World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Thailand before the event was postponed.
Grayson Murphy (Bozeman, MT). Grayson was named 2019 USATF Mountain Runner of the Year after winning the World Mountain Running Championship and USATF Mountain Running Championship in that same year. While this year’s World Mountain and Trail Running Championship was postponed, Grayson did successfully defend her USATF Mountain Running Championship title at the Gnar Gnar race in Oregon. She also travelled to Europe to compete in several WMRA World Cup races where she won Spain’s Canfranc-Canfranc race in course record time and won Italy’s historic Trofeo Nasego race. Grayson also finished 2nd at the Vertical Nasego VK behind 6-time World Mountain Running Champion and uphill specialist Andrea Myer. Not content with just mountain and trail events, Grayson raced the USATF Olympic Trials 3000m steeplechase in a time of 9:25.37 – a discipline where she’s currently ranked 36th in the world. She also finished 22nd at the USATF 5K Road Championships in a time of 15:25.
Max King (Bend, OR). Max stormed onto the mountain and trail running scene back in 2008 winning the XTERRA Trail Run National Championships in his hometown. He went on to race the 2010 World Mountain Running Championships in Slovenia helping the U.S. men’s team earn a silver medal. In 2011 Max won the World Mountain Running Championships followed in 2014 by a victory at the IAU 100 km Road World Championships. After becoming a master last year, Max has not slowed down. In 2021 he finished 2nd at the USATF Mountain Running Championships and earned a spot on the U.S. team for the first ever World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Thailand. He was also first master and 2nd overall at the USATF Trail Marathon Championships in Moab. Max finished 5th at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 23K (WMRA World Cup) where he was top master by over 15 minutes and finished 2nd at the Canyons Endurance Runs 100K earning a Western States 100 Golden Ticket.
Kasie Enman (Huntington, VT). Kasie finished 11th at the 2008 Olympic Team Trials-Marathon before breaking onto the national mountain and trail running scene in 2009 when she earned a spot on her first US Mountain Running Team. In 2011 she gained global recognition as the first ever U.S. woman to win the prestigious World Mountain Running Championships. Over the next decade Kasie would go on to represent the U.S. at the World Mountain Running Championships, World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships and Trail World Championships – the only U.S. woman to compete in all three world championships. In 2021 Kasie finished 4th overall and first master at the USATF 50K Trail Championships, a race she won back in 2018.
2021 marks the first time that all four American winners of the World Mountain Running Championships in the past decade have also won USATF MUT’s Runner of the Year in the same year. Max and Kasie earned their first world championships when the event was held in Tirana, Albania in 2011. Grayson earned her world championship at the 2019 event in Argentina. Joseph won his first world championship in Bulgaria in 2016 and his second at the 2019 event in Argentina.
USATF MUT Council chairperson Nancy Hobbs said, “There were many outstanding mountain, ultra, and trail performances this year to recognize in the USATF MUT runners of the year. Congratulations to all the nominees and to the winners in all four categories.”
Athletes nominated for MUT Runner of the Year and worthy of mention include Camille Herron, Courtney Dauwalter, Randi Burnett, Rachel (Johnson) Tomajczyk, Allie McLaughlin, Kimber Mattox, Stefani Flippin, Elizabeth Northern and Daniella Moreno for open female. Jim Walmsley, Preston Johnson, Adam Peterman, David Sinclair, Darren Thomas, Zach Bitter and Rajpaul Pannu for open male. Kathy Dormer, Diane Hankee, Elizabeth Claflin, Marisa Lizak, Sarah Barber, Liza Howard and Pamela Chapman-Markle for master female. Jonah Backstrom, Gene Dykes, Kelly Mortenson, Paulo Amaral, Jacob Jackson, Bob Hearn, Olivier LeBlond, Mark Tatum, Chris Grauch and Rich Hanna for masters male.
An explanation of USATF MUT award categories and nominations:
Cloud-Runner (Fred Maas)
12 Time Pikes Peak Runner - Santa Fe, NM
The last notes of America the Beautiful lingered inside my head as I dared one glance up at the peak 8,000 feet and fourteen miles above. We stood in pre-dawn darkness with the peak brightly lit in the sunrise with most of a moon setting behind it. It is the only look upward I would dare until I reached the top. It was 2005, the 50th annual Ultimate Challenge run up Pikes Peak.
We began the run up main straight in Manitou Springs with hoots of our determination, and cheers from friends, relatives, and towns’ people proud of their runners lining the sidewalks. I thought about the 25th annual which I had also run in 1980.
The run was much smaller then and little known. I had only found out about it from an ad in the relatively new Runners’ World magazine, though at that time I had already been running for twenty years. You could sign up ahead of time, or you could just show up and sign up at the run. Even then, there were some 800 avid participants of whom about 250 ran up and down, the rest just the ascent.
Researchers from the U.S. Army were at the starting line that day seeking volunteers to participate in some sort of a study. I asked them what they were doing. They answered, “you have children as young as 12 and a grandfather who is 76 running to over 14,000 feet. We put a pack on the backs of fit young twenty-year-olds and most can’t make it over an 11,000 foot pass. We want to find out why!”
Looking over their questionnaire I said, “you are asking the wrong questions. Doesn’t much matter what my training was last week or last month. Matters what I was doing last year or two years ago!” In addition to the questionnaire about preparation, they also asked for blood and urine samples, took information like height and weight.
The run up and down was for me an epic effort. The year before I had done the Ascent, so I had some idea of what I was in for. After turning at the top and starting down, the euphoric runner’s high settled in. I felt strong and excited, and I could see out forever. I wound up and ran down too fast.
It felt so effortless. The runners still ascending were so respectful, I had to hurdle one who was hunkered down in a boulder slot where there was no room to pass.
Uh-ohh. Before I reached tree line and A-Frame aid station, my quads began talking back, “where do you think you’re going so fast?” I backed off on speed, and settled into a more sustainable descent.
I was pretty darned spent by the time I reached the finish. The Army Docs were there waiting. The medical folks looked at me quizzically. “You have lost 9 pounds and your body temperature is 94. You should be laying on the ground and hypothermic?” I said, “you’re right. Where can I get a beer?” (They pointed to a nearby keg).
Returning to the present, once again ascending the steep switchbacks of Barr Trail, I greet astonished hikers who may not have known of the run, standing aside to let this endless line of runners pass. The sun was on us now, and beginning to feel warm. My two sons, Dan and Bren, had gone on up ahead literally laughing and dancing, and hooting down to me from several switchbacks above.
Weather forecast for this day was good. Clear, still, scattered mountain thunderstorms in the afternoon. Even at 60 years of age, I expected to finish safely before noon.
I met Steve Gachupin after the 1981 Run. He was congratulating my 13 year old son, Dan. He said, “I see you won the 15 and under age group.” Dan answered, “thank you.” Steve went on, “I see you set the age record.” Dan straightened up a bit, and replied, “why yes. Yes, I did.” Steve finished, “I used to hold that record.” Staring at Dan, he teased, “I held ALL the records.”
Steve, an Indian from Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico, had won the Pikes Peak Marathon 6 times in a row for which he now carries the knick-name, King of the Mountain. He taught me to pay homage to the Mountain. He taught me to smear mud from the mountain on my legs at No Name Creek as he had always done, an act of respect to “Mother Earth.” Steve was the honorary starter of the Race this day in 2005.
Onward through the next section of the ascent. Roots, rocks, and trees force a meandering course and constant concentration. The heart beats, the lungs breathe, the feet step, it’s about the rhythm, always the rhythm, the real runner associates, never disassociates.
Next aid station is Barr Camp. The support workers are partying, entertaining, as well as feeding and watering us. They are competing for “best aid station” award/reward. Their creativity adds momentary diversion and joy injected into the seemingly impossible ascent. We can already hear the loud speaker from the peak many miles above. As the music and joy of Barr Camp fade behind the not so faint loud speaker from the peak above is announcing the winner of the Ascent. I have yet a long way to go.
The run through pines and then firs between Barr and A-Frame aid stations seems much longer than five miles. As the trees get shorter, a nod to the altitude, the trail gets steeper, rockier, demanding ever more focus.
Water for the A-Frame Aid station is delivered by a two mile long hose down the hill. Amazing really. In fact, everything about the support for this run is amazing. Well thought out and tested now across so many decades. The aid workers here camped the night and have looked into the eyes of countless athletes some of whom are spent beyond what they ever thought they could handle.
The trees disappear above A-Frame. Too high. Now it is boulders and rocks, not roots and trees, that the runner is wending past. It is two miles to the next aid at Cirque. Altitude is now above 12,000 feet.
At this altitude the partial pressure of oxygen in blood is higher than the partial pressure of oxygen in the air. The only way you can derive oxygen is by the affinity of hemoglobin to snatch it out of the air. The blood of acclimated athletes does this better than those who have not spent time up here.
And for me, running has slowed to a hard paced walk while trying not to stumble on the rocks. My vision is riveted on the ground, every foot plant precisely measured. But something has changed. Why does everything look so different? The color of the ground has changed, changed from a bright white light to a subdued (and ominous) red.
I risk a glance up. HOLY !!!!
Big black billowing clouds were boiling over the peak, obscuring the sun. Suddenly a flash of lightning and the first clap of thunder. The predicted scattered afternoon thunderstorm had arrived early and right over us!
Everyone seemed to get the message at once, and everyone’s efforts redoubled. The only thing, and I mean this sincerely, the only thing to do was to get up top as soon as you can! I pulled out my 3 ounce wind-breaker and put it on, scant, but offered some soon to be needed protection.
I reached and turned and passed Cirque Aid station without a glance or a drink. Up! Get UP! More lightning, more thunder, then the rain began, then slashing hail. Yes, all hail had broken loose!
Hail that stung my bare legs (and later learned actually bruised the legs of many of the fairer sex), seemed to try to push me down. From beneath a boulder a shorts and singlet clad runner called out, “shouldn’t we get under a boulder in a lightning storm?” (Actually, you shouldn’t, particularly along a ridge).
“You needn’t worry about THAT lightning,” I called to him, “it’s BELOW us! RUN FOR IT!”
More breathless than I had ever been, and barely able to see through the driving rain and hail, I came to an intrepid lady in an orange poncho sitting on a rock, seemingly oblivious to the slashing thrashing hail. “You have reached the Fifteen Golden Stairs.”
“I could KISS you,” I called to her above the storm. The workers for this Run are absolutely as dedicated as the runners themselves.
Climbing the slippery ice slicked boulders, there in the mist finally was the Finish banner, my name being called on the loud speaker, and then from the sideline. My wonderful, beautiful wife, Debby, was there, well protected in storm gear, and sons Dan and Bren, we three in little more than running shorts, and lashed by the wind and the ice.
Hypothermia would soon set in if we didn’t find shelter quickly. We went to the gift shop, but it was packed, I mean, PACKED with the bodies of runners who had finished before us. With two or three more finishing every minute, the road down closed to traffic until the storm stopped and a snow plow could clear it, we had to find something else and fast.
There was another building. We went to it and knocked on the door. The guardian at the door said to us, “you can only come in if you have a medical emergency.” I looked at him grimly and said, “you might let us in to stand by the wall now, OR, ten minutes from now you will let us in anyway but as medical emergencies.” He got the point, “OK, go stand against that wall,” which we did.
(This was the first time in the 50 years of the race such dire conditions took place. Every year since, the Race places big tents on top… just in case. Sure enough an even worse condition occurred in 2008, but that is another story.)
The storm passed in half an hour. The sun came out, the hail and snow was inches deep and began to sublimate into steam. Tourist cars lined up to go down the road, waiting for the snow plow. A policeman stood guard at the head of the line. There were waiting busses for the runners, but we begged a ride in a tourist’s car, and crowded into the back of an SUV. The driver was in agony, his head in hands, from sea level, he had a nasty altitude headache. He grumbled, “you guys CHOSE to RUN up this mountain?”
I could see his point.
We were crammed into the back of the SUV like sardines. I decided that this would be better for everyone if there was one less person. My sons stayed with my wife safely and warmly in the back of the now less crowded car. I decided to finish the day as I had started it, on the run.
I walked over to the policeman who was stopping everyone from going down, waiting for the plow to clear the road. The policeman faced one way then another, I kept changing directions with him, but always behind him. When he turned and faced the lined up waiting cars, I turned the other way and began to run. Not that there was anything wrong with that.
Running down, on the snow, but in the sun, and mostly alone, (a few others were doing the same), it was like being released from prison. Down through the mists, vistas of distant snowy peaks, a herd of bighorn sheep crossed road just as I ran by. It was three miles down the road to the parking lot where cars were left to take the bus to the top.
The plow went past as I ran down, down with gloriously quick and lengthy strides each step sliding in the snow. By the time I reached the parking area, cars were also beginning to arrive from the peak.
My family hopped out of the SUV where they had found shelter, and we were reunited. And just in time. Yet another very very black cloud was fast approaching. We got in our car, and made good use of AWD as the second storm of the afternoon enveloped us and kept us company most of the rest of the way down.
Pikes Peak is indeed, the Ultimate Challenge. As a geologist might say, “don’t take it for granite.”
Written by ~ Pikes Peak Marathon & Ascent Runners
Since 1956, runners of Pikes Peak Marathon & Ascent have been taking on the challenges of conquering America's Mountain. We have compiled many stories from the experiences and memories of our past runners. We hope you enjoy these stories from some of our Pikes Peak Pioneers.
What did it feel like to run up Pikes Peak for the very first time and what year was that?
My first Pikes Peak was in 1984 and I remember being very inspired by the mountain experience. Looking up at the summit from A Frame was overwhelming, and topping out on Pikes Peak was very emotional for me.
What is your favorite memory of the Pikes Peak Ascent and/or Marathon?
My most unforgettable memory is definitely the 2008 Blizzard Ascent and I always love the fans at the finishes.
What keeps you returning year after year?
I just can't get enough of the mountain. Living in the region, Pikes Peak is always calling me back.
How has the Pikes Peak Marathon/Ascent shaped you into the runner you are today?
The Pikes Peak races have given me confidence in myself to meet difficult challenges. I have also learned to respect my training.
Do you feel like a pioneer of trail/mountain running?
Not really... I am thankful that I was on the front edge of the trail running discipline though.