© Pikes Peak Marathon
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 first time and what year was that?
In the spring of 1994 I impulsively quit my then 'career' as a professional cyclist and soon restarted my running life (I had been a runner/triathlete in the years prior to bike racing.) And, as a cyclist living at the Olympic Training Center in the early 90's I remember the adventure of winter hiking up to Barr Camp. I also recall 10 years prior as a college soccer player, standing on the soccer field of Colorado College and staring in awe at Pikes Peak; knowing and wondering when and HOW I would be back climbing Pikes Peak!
My first PPA was 1994, I honestly don't recall how I felt on the mountain or much about the race, except that I ran a 3:04 and was in the top 10 which I thought was pretty cool. I did reflect that despite my complete absence of mountain running experience, my "cycling legs" are what powered me up in a decent time. I ran again in 1995 - shaving an entire 45 seconds off of my time and again making the top 10.
1995 - 3:03:30 - 2nd Place AG
What was your favorite memory of the Pikes Peak Ascent/Marathon?
It has to be my Masters Record year, 2007. First, running through Barr Camp and hearing the official mumble something about "2nd place...", the guy I was with quickly asked a "fan" if there was a woman up ahead. The response was, "I think so, but it could be a guy......" Hmmm, well I decided to relax and stay focused on my goal of the Masters record, knowing I can't control who else is (maybe) out ahead. Then at A-Frame, my famous friend Buzz Burrell, let me know "Maria (Portilla) is 7 minutes ahead!" This made laugh... Like 'Ohhh, ok, I'm definitely in 2nd ... That's fine, just focus on my goal....' Then as soon as it was possible to be seen from above, I heard the VOICE.... "LIIIiiiSA GEEEEEeee!', the 8 x PPA winner & Legend, Scott Elliott, my Pikes Peak mentor, was yelling as though the voice of God, encouraging me up the mountain....it gave me chills and a welcome boost of support to forget about the diminutive, Peruvian Olympic marathoner Maria Portilla, and stay on point of my very personal goal. One of my all-time favorite days.
2007 - 2:42:44 - Master's Female Winner, 2nd Overall Female
What keeps your returning year after year?
I thrive and thoroughly enjoy the challenge of preparing myself to run up Pikes; the goal always, now, is to simply feel ready, competent and excited to be there. It's forever nostalgic and rewarding for me.
How has Pikes Peak Ascent/Marathon shaped you into the runner you are today?
I think my experience and success on Pikes has enamored/tuned me into the joy of the power of the mountains.... As a bike racer, I always thrived on the uphill portions of races, and finding uphill mountain running to be a thing, was awesome!! And it lead me to the thrill of running for 2 U.S. World Mountain Running teams....I continue to find my sweet/happy spot in running when I am grinding UP something long and steep!
Do you feel like a pioneer of trail/mountain running?
At least somewhat I suppose. When I won this race at ages 40 & 41, I was asked what it was about being "this age" that seemed to give an advantage. I remember replying that maybe young talented, or really fast flat-landers, are uncomfortable with the feeling of working SO hard and moving SO (relatively) slowly! NOW, I am nearly certain, my 2 wins are the slowest winning times AND by the oldest winner in the Ascent in these 14+ years since, so perhaps 'they' heard and took that as a challenge?! Plus adding prize money will always bring out the speedsters!
What advice would you give to runners racing their first Ascent or Marathon?
*Don't try to "win" the first mile+ to the trail!
*Don't panic about passing on the trail, there is always eventually room to pass. I mean don't ever put in a huge acceleration to pass! Bide time and ease past people as the trail allows.
*Take in nutrition every :30-60 minutes. The last 3 miles are going to require an extraordinary amount of energy and to NOT be depleted will be your Key to having your best possible above tree line experience!!!!!
*Embrace the 'pain & suffering' by staying within your own.
441 Manitou Ave, Suite 100
Manitou Springs, CO 80829
In 1972 Peter Strudwick did the Ascent in 4:20:29 and the Marathon in 7:02:28. What is so incredible about that you ask? Well, soon after his mother had caught rubella, commonly called German measles, Peter was born with legs that ended in stumps just past the ankles, a left arm that had only one thumb and a finger, and a right arm ending at the wrist.
When Zebulon Pike tried to ascend the mountain that would later be named after him he was turned back by the harsh weather. Many claim he said that no one would ever reach its summit. However, it is generally accepted that he meant on that day, under those conditions. The snow was waist deep and his men were not dressed for it and were out of food.
“Militant tobacco-hating physician” Dr. Arne Suominen from Delray Beach FL, became the founder of the modern day Pikes Peak races when he wrote a letter to the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce in 1956 and challenged cigarette smokers to race him up and down Pikes Peak. 1956 Results