By Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent Runners
Months of training, one day to race, and a lifetime of memories! Stories updated monthly by guest bloggers, check back next month for another great tale from Barr Trail!
It was August 16th, 2008. The 53rd running of the Pikes Peak Ascent. If my memory serves me right, which is getting harder as the years slip past, there was a little drizzle in the air at the start. Dave Sorenson, official timer for the Pikes Peak Road Runners, summarized the weather on the clubs “results” page as this: Weather: At the start, light rain with temps in the 50s. Summit weather was in the 30s with fog, sleet, grapple, wind, cold. It was pretty miserable on the top (1).
At the time, I was 52 years old, this was my 7th or 8th Ascent (see note about memory above). I had done pretty good in the previous Ascents, averaging around four hours. I knew this one would be different, what with the weather and all, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
Waiting at the start line I thought the cloudy sky and light drizzle would be welcome. I had always believed the stretch of trail from Barr Camp to the A-Frame as the toughest – weather wise. That’s where the sun breaks out and the heat is on. You’re not high enough in elevation yet to get the cooler air and you sweat gallons trudging out of a forest of shrinking trees into a blazing sun. At the start I had worn a long sleeve tech T and shorts and brought along light gloves and a Tyvek, zip up hoody that was a Fall Series 2006 shwag gift; I still use it today. My Shag Bag had warmups, a sweatshirt, socks, slippers and a snickers bar (my go-to post run power bar).
The gun went off and we stopped standing in the drizzle and began running in it. Like most races I run, I find a pacer and stay back behind, trying to keep an even distance. Should I end up passing that person – good for me, if I lose them, good for them. I’m always looking for that perfect pace. This year it was wet, and people generally don’t train on the mountain in inclement weather. I know I don’t, but that’s because I’m “solar powered”, but that’s a story for another time. I went through pacers like a shopper on Black Friday gets through the front door. No one was a pacer for any length of time, and I contributed to that by running inconsistently at best.
I began to struggle at the A-Frame. It was much colder, windy and dark with thick storm clouds overhead. I began to think about putting on the gloves and hoody but that would mean I’d have to stop. God forbid the folks I passed would pass me and then I’d have to pass them again. Usually by A-Frame you get into a “death march”. That part of the race where the person ahead of you will stay ahead of you until the finish line and the person behind you will stay behind you until the finish line. I was not going to be a leap-frogger. I trudged along, thinking more about my beat-red quads and my freezing snot faucet. At about the marker commemorating the death of G. Inestine Roberts (who at the age of 88 died above timberline during her 14th climb) there was a huge, loud and sudden clap of thunder. I immediately knew now why this race would not be like any others. Lightning above tree line is so dangerous that I could place a bet that the folks still below A-Frame were getting turned around and they were.
I thought of turning around, for a second, but then kept on trudging. It was less than three miles to the summit. Little did I know that these miles would be the worst miles I ever encountered, ever.
Trouble began when I had made the decision to put on the gloves. I stopped and reached back to my pack. I couldn’t move the way I wanted to. My hands were stiff. The first joint that I could control was my elbow. There’s no way I could pinch two fingers together to clasp a zipper. I started trudging onward thinking “this is going to suck, I got to speed up and get it over with”. The next few steps were clumsy and not well placed. I thought if things below my waist still worked I could make it to the top. I vowed never to stop again because bad things happen when I stop; like trying to get going again. I kept thinking, problems with my body are mine to work out, I can do this. Then the hail and snow hit and everything went white-out.
I knew I was on “The Grand Traverse”, that long stretch of trail that goes across the face of Pikes Peak and ends at “The Cirque”, but where? I stopped hearing the crunch of gravel, that noise that reminds you that you’re not alone. The sleet and blowing snow increased and the trail was getting covered and icy. I heard voices in the wind, it was the Aid Station, the last one before the finish line. When I got there, snow had made drifts around the rocks and the water cups were frozen. A volunteer asked If wanted some M&Ms and I nodded. I held my hand out and noticed it was shacking, really bad. The M&Ms rolled off, I couldn’t close my hand to hold them. Somebody hollered loudly over the wind “I’m going to bag you, can you make it to the top?” My mind wanted my body to say something, but I couldn’t move my lips to form words. I stumbled away in a black plastic leaf bag that sounded like “Old Glory” in a hurricane. My last memory before the finish line was a mantra; “If I keep having to climb up, I’ll find the top”. Visibility was about ten feet and all the rocks looked the same. Where’s that trail?
My memory of the finish line was of two people, one under each arm, dragging me across the finish line. My second memory was lying in a cot, under warm blankets, wearing dry clothes taken out of my shag bag. I had an IV in my arm, I think. A friend walked by and looked at me and said “Jon, you look like shit”. I looked around and found I wasn’t alone. There was a long line of cots. I closed my eyes and teared up. It was over, and I was shivering uncontrollably.
Other memories I have of the 2008 Ascent came from friends and volunteers. Recovery from that kind of cold and dehydration isn’t a memory, it’s a condition. My hands didn’t stop shaking for days. I had lost feeling in my fingers which lasted for weeks and was followed by tingling that lasted for months. My lips finally warmed enough to form words that evening. Of the 761 runners that crossed the finish line, I was the 748th. I’m sure the hundreds that were turned back at the A-Frame thought they were cheated. What they lost was an opportunity to have a near death experience and put the lives of volunteers at risk just to save them, like they did for me. I’ve been told that I was found off trail, climbing on my elbows and knees over boulders going straight up. If that’s what was taken away from those that were turned around and feel cheated, then so be it. Remember, things that don’t kill you CAN make you stronger, they can also cripple you for life. I didn’t return to the Ascent starting line for two years and my hands still have sensitivity to cold. When you chose to run Pikes Peak, just know that the mountain has the final say.
"Movement is the song of the body"
Movement, it’s what drives us forward. It brings new life to each day. When we are in pain and movement feels impossible, joy can feel miles away. Sometimes our movement can be inhibited through injury, surgery or even stress. If you have ever been in this place, you know what I’m talking about. It’s very easy to go from a state of joy to a state of depression when we suddenly cannot move the way we are used to and do the things we like to do!
The Colorado Institute of Massage Therapy is more than just a massage school. It’s an opportunity to help make a difference in others' lives! If you have ever had a good therapeutic massage or sports massage, you know how beneficial it is to help keep you moving. Our goal is to give you an opportunity to establish a career that’s full of purpose. Helping bring life back to others by decreasing pain and increasing range of motion is an ultimate reward!
The Colorado Institute of Massage Therapy provides a Certification in Neuromuscular Therapy through the International Academy of Neuromuscular Therapy along with a certification in Trigger point Therapy, Swedish massage and Integrative techniques.
For more information about our certification programs visit us at CIMT.edu or call us at 719-634-7347. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram @massageschoolcom
Pikes Peak Summit Visitor Center: Almost to the Top
For more information on the Pikes Peak Summit -
It's been a long time coming, and we're nearly there. The new Pikes Peak visitor center has been under way since 2018 and we are excited to announce that it will be opening in late May of this year, construction and weather permitting. The completion of this edifice comes with a lot to look forward to.
The structure is 38,000 square feet in total. It includes the north overlook, many educational displays, and exciting experiences for visitors to enjoy the beauty of Pikes Peak in a whole new way.
Although we are excited for you and your loved ones to experience Pikes Peak's newest feature, the time hasn't come yet. The summit will be closed until May 23rd, which is when construction on the visitor center is scheduled for completion. Meanwhile, you'll have to make do with the other beauties America's Mountain has to offer, such as these:
By Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent Runners
Months of training, one day to race, and a lifetime of memories! Stories updated monthly by guest bloggers, check back next month for another great tale from Barr Trail!
We Love Our Mountain - by Paul Czosnowski
I wanted to share the story of me and my wife. I met Charlotte in 2017 a week before the Ascent. She was training to run the ascent and I was training to run the 2018 marathon. We met by chance in riding to the summit from manitou in the same car. We had a nice, "I don't know you" conversation. We got to the summit, took a picture with the woman who drove us up and then ran up and down the trail from the summit. We rode down together and had a great, "I knid of know you" conversation. When we got to the bottom, I told her it was really nice meeting you. Before I was even done talking she jumped out of the car and went to her own. I was left thinking, "Did I offend?"
A couple of days later I reached out to her on Facebook and we began a conversation and over a week or two we decided to run together again and that led to our first date. We grew close quickly and continued to run together. In June of 2018 she made me that happiest man by saying yes to my proposal underneath the waterfall at hanging lake. We ran the Pikes Peak Marathon step-in-step together in 2018. We got a whole lot closer on the run when my wife tripped and fell with me following close behind and falling on top of her. I was worried because I saw her face hit the dirt and her first words were, "Are my sunglasses ok?" I love my wife! We have run several marathons together and were married on Sep 1 2019. We continue to hold Pikes Peak close to our hearts and were married with the hashtag #pikepeaksoulmates.
We love our mountain.
Paul and Charlotte
Excerpts From The Mountain - by Lize Brittin
Ann Trason is THE goddess of ultra running. During her career, she set over 10 course records. I was lucky enough to see her run at the Leadville 100 one year when I was supposed to pace someone over Hope pass.
The runner whom I was supposed pace ended up dropping out just before mile 50 where I stood waiting. While standing there, I had the chance to view Ann speed by looking like she was in the middle of a 10K at sea level instead of on her way up and eventually over a 12,500-foot mountain. Boy, can she move! Shortly after seeing the leaders zoom by, I got the news about my guy with a knee injury that caused him to quit the race.
Being all carbo-loaded and nowhere to go, I quickly made my way to my car and drove to Colorado Springs where the Pikes Peak Marathon was scheduled to be held the next day. Being a little out of shape, my goal was to run to the top and drop out because I wasn't at all ready for the downhills. I'm more of a climber and couldn't really be worse on the descents. Plus, I was coming off another injury and had only been putting in base mileage, nothing too fast. The sensible thing would be to run to the top and find a ride down. The only problem was that once I started, I felt pretty good and decided to tuck in behind a lady, a pretty fast one.
She didn't seem too happy about me tagging along, but we ended up in a 1-2 position at the top. With everyone cheering, I got caught up in the excitement. "You can catch her!" they all yelled. And, quite stupidly, I thought, "Yeah! Maybe I CAN catch her!"
Someone put a shiny blanket around me, stuck a banana in my hand, and turned me around, gently shoving me down the trail. "Go!" he yelled. So, like a fool, I started going down with nothing on my mind but M&Ms and how badly I wanted some. A lady offered me some skittles, and I said, "No Way!" Actually, I politely declined, but when you're expecting chocolate and only fruit candy is available, it's pretty disappointing.
Not very far into the descent, I promptly blew out my right knee. I hobbled to the finish, dropping from 2nd to 11th place. Stopping on that mountain means you probably have to wait around for a donkey ride down or suck it up and get yourself either back to the top or down to the bottom. I had no intention of being carried out of there, so I limped, hobbled, and jogged my way to the finish line.
Ann Trason set a course record at Leadville in 1994. Then, two years in a row, she ran back-to-back ultras winning both the Western States 100 and also the Comrades Marathon in South Africa, which is actually 56 miles. Trason won the Western States 100 an unprecedented 14 times and set the course record for women, running the race in 1994 in a time of 17:37:51.
Meanwhile, my only other win came many years after I retired when I won a very small mountain race in Aspen where I had the pleasure of running a little way with Neal Beidleman. He pulled away at the end of that race but kept me company like the gentleman he is through a good portion of the climb. Ahh, the memories!
(From PPM Results Archive - Lize Brittin finished this 1988 Marathon with an outstanding ascent time of 2:57:43 and a descent of 2:33:07, for an overall total of 5:30:50!)
Experience - by Marcy Schwam, Marblehead, MA
I love the Pike’s Peak Marathon. I first ran in 1978. In 2006 as I was headed for an age group win, I took a nasty header with 8 miles to go. People around me were sickened with all the blood. I had no idea how bad it was, but as I came into the aid station, someone already reported it. They wanted me to stop and I refused. I lost time as they did neurological tests and pressure bandaged the head wound. I ran on, and could here them on the walkie talkies that the woman with the head wound was approaching the finish line. I was wooshed into the medical tent and a doctor actually stitched me up right there and then.
In 2010 I did the double and it was one of the greatest weekends ever.
At age 60 I was entered and had hoped the the age group record which was in reach. Unfortunately dumb timing and a knee scope kept me from attending. My new goal. Returning at age 70.
I love the Pike’s Peak Marathon.
THE 2021 GOLDEN TRAIL WORLD SERIES IS REVVING ITS ENGINES -
BUCKLE UP, HOLD ON TIGHT, THIS YEAR IS GONNA BE ONE HELL OF A RIDE!
A GOLDEN STAR-STUDDED 2021 STARTING BLOCK
This 2021 GTWS edition is on track with a pre-registered starting list at the highest level it’s ever seen. An elite compilation from across the world ready to thrash it out in 2021after last year’s white-out season.
Here are the 6 iconic GTWS 2021 races: Zegama, Marathon du Mont Blanc, Dolomyths Run, Sierre-Zinal, Pikes Peak Marathon, Ring of Steall, and the Grand Final, the K42 Adventure Marathon, in Patagonia (Argentina).
Who is coming? THE BEST OF THE BEST!
The 2021 Constellation of Female Stars
2021 will see an incredibly exciting women’s field, starting with Judith Wyder (Team Salomon, Switzerland) GTWS 2019 winner, Dolomyths Run and Ring of Steall record holder, she’s back after the birth of her second child, will she hold onto her 2019 GTWS title after her year away? Teammate Maude Mathys (Team Salomon, Switzerland) GTC 2020 winner and Sierre-Zinal and Pikes Peak Marathon record holder, will not make her return easy. What will Rachel Drake (Team Nike, USA), 2nd overall at GTC 2020, make of the GTWS races as a rookie up against the well-honed regulars on these technically challenging and varied race routes? There’s Blandine L’Hirondel (Team Hoka One One, France) 3rd overall GTC 2020 & IAU World Champion 2019, the skimo specialist Johanna Åström (Team Arc Teryx, Norway) who crushed the Tromsø skyrace course record in 2019 and 5th overall at the 2020 GTC, Denisa Dragomir (Team La Sportiva, CompresSport, Romania) European Skyrunning Champion 2019. Other exciting women to watch, Anaïs Sabrié (Team Matryx, France) Holly Page, (Team Adidas Terrex, UK) 10th overall GTWS 2019, 2nd ROS 2019, Fanny Borgstrom, (Sweden) 3rd at ROS 2019 and 11th at GTWS 2019. What an exciting year!
Multi-national Men’s Line-up
Check out the fast and furious men’s line up! Who will prove themselves to be the Italian hero, Davide Magnini (Team Salomon, Italy) 2019 Mont-Blanc Marathon and Dolomyths Run winner, 2nd overall GTWS 2019, or his double Nadir Maguet (Team La Sportiva, Italy) Ring of Steall 2019 winner? Will Frédéric Tranchand (Team Scott, France) be as powerful as he was on the first stage of the GTC 2020 against Bart Przedwojewski (Team Salomon, Poland), GTC 2020 winner, who is more motivated than ever to defend his title? Stian Angermund (Team Salomon, Norway) Zegama record holder, 5th overall GTC 2020, Rui Ueda (Japan) Skyrunner World Series Champion 2019, Jonathan Albon (UK) IAU World Champion 2019, Francesco Puppi (Team Nike, Italy) 7th overall GTC 2020, Nicolas Martin (Team Hoka One One, France) 10th overall GTC 2020, and Rémi Bonnet (Team Salomon, Switzerland) 8th overall GTC 2020, seems to have made a giant leap from boy-cub to lion after an exceptional skimo season.
2021 has all the ingredients to have the most exciting GTWS edition to date!
Full Elite’s list attached.
Of course, we are still living in uncertain times and we must be prepared to adapt the race schedule if needs be, here are our backup plans:
If 1, 2 or 3 races are cancelled: The GTWS still takes place with a reduced number of races and the number of mandatory qualifying races changes (5 races: 3 best results out of 5; 4 races: 2 best results out of 4; 3 races: 2 best results out of 3).
If more than 3 races are cancelled: We move to a GTC format with Golden Tickets to win on: The GTWS qualifying races which will take place, the GTNS races which will take place, other races and/or Golden Segments.
The 2021 GTWS will make you sweat, scream, shout, and gel-dunk just from your sofa! The GTWS 2021 will release 7 episodes, 30 minutes each, at the end of the year – plus 10-minute recaps directly after each race – all filmed during each race, so you can enjoy the full experience wherever you are in the world – as if you had been side-by-side with the best trail runners on the planet!
Remember that there’s €160,000 prize money up for grabs during this 2021GTWS.
See all the details here: https://www.goldentrailseries.com/rules-gtws/
Runners must take part in at least 3 out of 6 qualifying races and reach the top 11 to be invited to the Grand Final. If a runner didn’t reach the top 11 but participated in 3 of the 6 qualifying races, he/she can still go to the Grand Final at his/her own expense and still have the chance to win the race and prize money!
The Golden Trail World Series final ranking will be determined by the runners’ 3 best results during the season, plus their result at the Grand Final.
The Golden Trail World Series stands out in the modern sports world respecting unique values like parity, equity, transparency and honesty. The races have been chosen to highlight the most iconic events in this sport today. The Series aims to promote professional trail runners as the world-class athletes that they are, to showcase and protect the awe-inspiring nature and environments where we play and compete, and to acknowledge the amazing, passionate fans as an essential ingredient in the sport. Each of the six races in the Series has been specifically selected because of the scenery, challenges, history and atmosphere that they offer to both the runners and the public. These are the races that every runner wants to experience and some of the first written on any runner’s bucket list.
Photos available, please respect the copyrights @GoldenTrailSeries | @”name of the race” | @”name of the photograph”
By Katie Benzel
The Pikes Peak Marathon is sad to report the death of one of the great pioneers of trail running: Arlene Pieper Stine, the first woman to officially complete a marathon, who ran Pikes Peak in 1959. She died on February 11, 2021. Stine was a fixture at the race starting with the 50th anniversary of the Marathon in 2009, speaking at prerace Peak Busters meetings and appearing at the start line annually until it became too difficult for her to travel. She always had a friendly smile and an encouraging word for all who approached her.
Her legacy will inspire generations of women to tackle their mountain, whatever that may be. She will be greatly missed.
For further reading about Arlene's remarkable achievement, we recommend these articles by WBUR, Runner's World, and The Gazette.
Arlene herself didn't even realize her finish was so remarkable until the Pikes Peak Marathon tracked her down in 2009. She had signed up for the race to promote the fitness studio she owned, took her 9-year-old daughter along, and didn't think twice about conquering the 14,115-foot peak that August day in 1959.
Days before the 60th annual Marathon in 2019, runners dressed in her signature white shorts, hat, and shirt (modeled after Arlene's favorite movie star, Marilyn Monroe) and summited Pikes Peak to commemorate her accomplishment.
By Eric Swab, Trails and Open Space Coalition
TOSC is committed to preserving open spaces and parks, as well as creating a network of trails, bikeways, and greenways for the Pikes Peak Region.
Well – at least some of the trail does. Some is older, some a lot older, and some newer. If you have hiked to the summit on Barr Trail you have seen the granite plaque that dates the trail’s construction from 1914 to 1918. Fred Barr probably started the project in 1914, but 1918 is the year he finished surveying the route. Construction was not completed until 1921.
The trail that reached the summit in 1921 started at No Name Creek, not in Manitou Springs. Beginning in 1908, Fred Barr owned the Burro Livery concession at the top of the Manitou Incline. After building trails on “Rocky Mountain” to Lookout Rock, Eagle Cliff and Mount Crest Crags, he decided to provide a way for his customers to reach the summit.
Fred’s was not the first trail up the east face of Pikes Peak. That may be claimed by the engineers of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. General William Jackson Palmer, wishing to provide an attraction for his Colorado Springs passengers, built the “Fremont Trail” in 1871. Some believe this trail only went as far as timber line, leaving the hiker or equestrians to find his own way from there.
In 1917 The Forest Service hired Fred to supervise a crew of 10 men to build a trail from Manitou to the Fremont Experimental Forest. Assuming the trail shown on USGS Topographic maps (highlighted in pink below) was the one supervised by Fred, not all the current trail (shown in blue) was built by him. In 1948, the Forest Service reconstructed Barr Trail using small bull dozers developed during WWII. It is possible that changes in Fred’s design of this stretch of the trail were made to improve its sustainability. A 1920 map of Barr’s Trail above No Name Creek shows his design coinciding with the current trail.
Tradition tells us that Fred Barr worked as a miner to fund the construction of his trail. Fred did work as a miner for the Pikes Peak Fuel Company in the early 1930s. However, this is more than 10 years after the construction of Barr Trail. Funds for his trail may have come from money he borrowed against his homestead near Ellicott. He may have worked as a miner during the Great Depression to supplement his income as a burro concessionaire.
Trail legend also tells us he did all the work himself. There are newspaper accounts that say he had help. In addition, there is a strong possibility that he adopted some parts of the Fremont Trail. A copy of the 1920 map mentioned above can be seen at the top of the page. Notes on this map raise some interesting questions. Two of the trails at the east end of Barr’s trail, the “Trail to Mt. Manitou” [incline], and “Trail to Fremont Experiment Station”, must have existed before 1909, to provide for transporting men and materials from the Incline to the Fremont Experimental Forest construction site. Fred’s 1917 project probably widened those trails. Barr’s 1908 Burro enterprise offered both the Fremont Experimental Forest and “Halfway House” as destinations for his customers.
Moving west up Barr Trail we see another “Trail to Fremont S??”. We know this trail/road as “Bobs Road” today. It is used for support of the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon, and as a jumping off point for Search and Rescue. The date of this trail and its name are unknown. Next is “Trail to French Cr and Cascade”. Surely this is Forest Service Trail 638, today a popular hike from the Town of Cascade to Barr Trail. There is no evidence that Barr built this trail. Could it date from the late 1880s when Cascade was developing as a summer resort? If so, did it connect to the Fremont Trail, since Barr’s trail did not exist yet?
Next, we see “Trail to the Printing Office”. This has to be the trail that passes “Montes View Rock Pile”. Some say this was the original trail to “Mountain View”, a stop on the Cog railway. The Printing Office was the business of Thomas B. and Grace T. Wilson. The Wilson’s published the Pikes Peak Daily New at Mountain View which they sold to the passengers of the Cog. Next, we see “Trail to the Bottomless Pit”. This is not Barr’s trail to the Bottomless Pit, but a branch of the Fremont trail to that destination.
Further up the trail is the note “Halfway Camp”. By 1919 Fred had completed his trail to a point above timberline, so he could have had a camp here in 1920. The first media mention of his camp was in 1922, when it consisted of a group of tents. The first log cabin at Barr Camp was completed in 1924. Conspicuous is the absence of any mention Barr’s trail to “The Second Bottomless Pit”. Today this is Forest Service Trail 652 from Barr Camp to the Oil Creek Tunnel or Ghost Town Hollow.
Next is a note at timber line. Above that “Rim of Bottomless Pit” and “Rim of Crater”. Note there was a side trail leading to the Bottomless Pit overlook. It is noteworthy that Fred was sensitive to the natural beauty of the trip to the summit. It wasn’t necessary to stretch his trail across the entire eastern face of the mountain. Finally, we see the note “Summit House”. The map shows both the Zalmon Simmons Cog “Summit House”, and Spencer Penrose’s “Highway Summit House”. Penrose didn’t purchase the Cog until 1925. The map shows a trail between the two summit houses. Did Simmons really build a fence, as claimed by some, to prevent the automobile visitors from enjoying the views to the east?
There is a black line with “tick marks” drawn on the map, that mostly parallels Barr’s trail. This represents the telephone line that once served Barr Camp. The existence of phone service is supported by early photos showing overhead lines running to the cabin. Observant hikers looking carefully beside the trail will see the old poles, mostly on the ground. These can be distinguished from dead trees by the absence of limbs and the presence of wooden insulator brackets nailed near the top of the pole. Fred was planning on phone service as early as 1922, but it is unclear when it was actually installed or discontinued.
Like any anniversary, the completion of Barr’s trail to the summit of Pikes Peak marks an event in the long history of this cherished resource in the region. Thanks Fred!
Robert M. Ormes, “Fred Barr,” Typescript, 23 Jan 1922.
Pikes Peak Marathon Selected as Part of the Five-Race Series in Salomon's Launch of the North American Golden Trail National Series
The Golden Trail Series Announces North American Golden Trail National Series
New U.S.- and Canada-based series will shine a spotlight on competitive trail running across five races in 2021
OGDEN, Utah (Feb. 18, 2021) – Today, Salomon announces the launch of the North American Golden Trail National Series (GTNS), inviting trail runners across North America to run the five-race series for a chance to compete in the GTNS Grand Final, a three-day stage race in the Azores Archipelago. The national series’ five races will be held across the U.S. and Canada.
“We are thrilled to further invest in trail running by bringing this popular global series to the US and Canada that will grow and evolve the sport in North America,” says Stephanie Gardner, sports marketing manager for Salomon USA. “The races we selected were designed to gather the greatest national athletes to compete on the most rugged, beautiful courses in the region and we’re really looking forward to highlighting them at the Golden Trail National Series in 2021.”
The North American series is comprised of four qualifying races and a final. To compete in the final, athletes must partake in at least three of the four races where they will earn points based on how they finish in each race. Athletes will earn double points at the final, which will be tallied with points earned from their best three out of four races. The top three men and top three women with the highest points will be invited to the GTNS Grand Final in the Azores, which will feature the top athletes from each of the seven GTNS around the world, including France/Belgium, Spain/Portugal, Italy, UK, Czech Republic/Slovakia/Poland and Germany/Austria/Switzerland. The top three men and women from the GTNS Grand Final will then go on to compete in the 2022 Golden Trail Championship.
“The 2020 Golden Trail Championship in the Azores was an absolute dream come true, so I’m excited that this series is launching on the national level and will elevate North American trail running athletes,” says professional trail runner and Salomon athlete, Bailey Marie Kowalczyk. “Not only was The Golden Trail Series a safe and fun trail running event last fall, but they mastered it in a way that brought so many people together and created an amazing competition. It’s exciting to hear this event will be taking place again and that more people will have the chance to compete on the world stage.”
The 2021 North American Golden Trail National Series will take place at the following locations:
Quebec Mega Trail 50k — Quebec
The Quebec Mega Trail 50k is the biggest ultra-trail competition in Canada that features over 7,775 feet of vertical gain throughout the course. The race starts in the village of Saint-Tite des Caps and then climbs up the brutal Mestachibo trail. Runners will then complete two ascents and two descents of Mont-Sainte-Anne (MSA), finishing with a 21km loop in the northern trails of MSA.
Pikes Peak Marathon — Manitou Springs, Colorado
The Pikes Peak Marathon is a race like no other and is known as Americas Ultimate Challenge. With a 2,382m vertical climb, the course takes runners from Manitou Springs, Colorado to the summit of Pikes Peak at 4,302m, and back down for a total of 26.2 grueling miles. The course runs mostly on Barr Trail, which has an average grade of 11%, is often narrow, winding, or steep along with sharp turns and abrupt changes in elevation or direction. It is the oldest continually held marathon in the United States, founded in 1956. And it has the distinction of the first marathon to allow a woman to enter and finish the race in 1959.
Whistler Alpine Meadows 55k — Whistler, BC
The Whistler Alpine Meadows 55k is a full point-to-point race route that features 9,200 feet of elevation gain with a beastly climb at the start. The race starts from Whistler’s Cheakamus Canyon area and traverses over the very top of Whistler Mountain to bring runners along Singing Pass and finishing up on the challenging windy single track of the Comfortably Numb trail system.
Way Too Cool 50k — Cool, California
The Way Too Cool 50k takes runners across the stunning and rugged landscape of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. The race features 4,839 feet of elevation gain on mostly single track, winding through the Secret Tail and Western States Trail. Official race date coming soon.
Broken Arrow Skyrace 26k North American Final — Squaw Valley, California
The Broken Arrow 26k covers a world-class loop that showcases some of Squaw Valley’s most famous terrain. From the valley floor at 6,200 feet, runners will ascend nearly 5,000 feet as they circumnavigate the heralded terrain of one of North America’s most rugged and extreme ski resorts. The course is characterized by a plethora of vertical gain over a technical and physically demanding landscape that’s mostly above tree line.
Golden Trail National Series Grand Final – Azorean Triangle
The top three men and women from the North American GTNS will get to travel to the Azorean Triangle for a 100km 3-day stage race on the Faial, Pico and São Jorge Islands. The top three men and top three women from this race will get to travel to the Golden Trail Championship in 2022.
The Golden Trail National Series is dedicated to following COVID safety protocols for the US & Canada GTNS races to ensure a safe and fun experience for all competitors and staff. Please check the GTNS website for the most up-to-date race information. For more information about the North American GTNS, please visit, https://www.goldentrailseries.com/series/usa-can/.
Brandon Stapanowich, Manitou Springs
Co-Race Director, Barr Trail Mountain Race
It was around 1998 when the high school version of me was flippantly flipping through my dad’s Runner’s World magazine. I was living in North Carolina and didn’t run for running’s sake at the time, so I lacked context for trail running, Pikes Peak, Colorado, marathons, and any elevation over 6,000 ft. Yet despite that lack of perspective, when I turned to an image captioned, “Runners nearing the summit during the Pikes Peak Marathon,” I knew that my eyes were sharing something powerful with my brain. My experience of running at that time was simply as a means to chase a ball, or to chase a person to prevent them from striking a ball, or sometimes as punishment for not doing one of those things well enough. Yet even with my limited perspective on what it would actually take to run to the summit of Pikes Peak and back, there was something viscerally poignant about seeing that picture, enough to where some internal tinder was set aflame. Those gritty runners grunting and grinding on the 16 Golden Stairs moved my soul and gave me the notion that someday, I too would be running on that mountain.
Of course, initially I didn’t have an idea of when or how my goal would come to fruition and no prediction of when I’d actually be running on the mountain. But that’s often how the most ambitious and adventurous goals in life work, at least for me. Start a grand idea, born from little more than unexamined enthusiasm, and commit to it before that fiery feeling of excitement fleets. From there, the steps along the way and all the necessary minutiae that come with it become clearer to identify and act upon. Emotion inspiring execution.
Though the long game was at play, this formula eventually led to my first Pikes Peak Marathon 13 years later in 2011. That race surpassed my expectations. It took my breath away on the way up, a little bit of blood on the way down, and left me with a 26.2 mile-long grin of accomplishment.
Using excitement and curiosity to fuel escapades has led to more quests for experiences on and off of America’s Mountain. These have included a self-created Pikes Ultra (4 round trips completed both in 2013 and 2016), a marathon on the Manitou Incline dubbed the Inclination, the Ultra Inclinathon consisting of 24 hours of round trips on the Incline, completing the Colorado Trail, and pioneering a Colorado Springs Skyline Traverse (linking Blodgett Peak, Ormes Peak, Cameron Cone, Pikes Peak, Almagre, Mt. Baldy, Mt. Rosa, and Cheyenne Mountain).
The downside to this recipe is that, at its nature, waiting on emotion to dictate a goal can be a fickle thing. Deep-set feelings are rarely reliable and typically don’t like to be called upon at a moment’s notice. They require time, cultivation, and a healthy bit of introspective work, before the right idea comes with the right feeling and sticks.
This quandary has been particularly relevant over the past year and many questions arise. When will covid case numbers drop? When will vaccinations rise so that races can happen with regularity? What adventure will stir my soul again? In a time of great uncertainty, when motivation may be a little harder to summon, the Pikes Peak Marathon has once again inspired.
You see, one great thing about this race is the amount of data that has been recorded and is available. Results dating back to 1976 can be found in the annals of internet history. I actually didn’t realize the extent of this until after a conversation with a friend of mine, Wes, but there are age group records for women and men for each individual year of age. Seeing the names and the times representing the very best performances across the age span, in a time when all of our mortality seems just a little closer, has me wondering what I will be like when I’m in my 7th decade of life. Will I still be able to run? Will I still be able to climb mountains? My hope, naturally, is that the answer to these questions is yes. That, on a Sunday morning in 2062, I’ll be lining up on Manitou Avenue, running my way past No Name Creek and Barr Camp and A-Frame. After high-fiving a volunteer, I’ll tip toe between the boulders and back to town, this time without falling. It’ll be at a much slower pace than today, but how wonderful of an experience would that be. So look out 78 year old men’s Pikes Peak Marathon record… I’m starting my training today. And I’m (eventually) coming for you!
- Brandon Stapanowich, Manitou Springs
Co-Race Director, Barr Trail Mountain Race
We know how amazing Pikes Peak Marathon's course is and how incredible our runners are that take on America's greatest challenge -- and so does the WORLD! In 2021, the Pikes Peak Marathon will again host some of the best runners from around the world as they compete for HUGE prize money and rankings to earn a position in the Golden Trail World Series Grand Final in November, 2021, in the K42 Adventure Marathon in Patagonia, Argentina. Be prepared to see dozens of the top runners from around the world as they battle it out right here on Pikes Peak's Barr Trail along with you!