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Autumn running with the Pikes Peak Road Runners

Reflection of Pikes Peak in Crystal Lake
Reflection of Pikes Peak in Crystal Lake
Steve Krull / S. W. Krull Imaging

Summer is nearly over with autumn upon us and the Pikes Peak Road Runners running club has made sure that there are plenty of running events to keep runners busy as the sun sets earlier and the temperatures begin to drop.

The Pikes Peak Road Runners (PPRR) fall season, including the storied Fall Series, kicks off Monday, September 1 to celebrate Labor Day at 6:30 a.m. in America the Beautiful Park in Colorado Springs with the American Discovery Trail Marathon & Half Marathon & Relay endurance runs.

According to the official PPRR website, "The ADT Marathon is a USATF certified Boston Qualifier (CO-08011-DCR). The Marathon will start at 6:30 a.m., 26 miles north of downtown Colorado Springs. Runners will run on the American Discovery Trail (Santa Fe Trail) south, starting in Palmer Lake and finishing at America the Beautiful Park. The altitude gradually drops along the trail, starting at 7,225 feet, and ending around 6,040 feet at America the Beautiful Park. The trail is mostly packed dirt, however there are short sections of asphalt and concrete.".

The fall season also includes a rare ultra marathon on the rugged wilderness trails of the Pike National Forest. The Tommy Knocker Ultra race will be held on Saturday, September 6 in the Pike National Forest north of the town of Woodland Park. The day includes 100k and 50k ultra marathon trail runs starting and finishing at Camp Elim with the 100k distance boasting over 10,000 feet of elevation gain on beautiful forest trails.

The entire month of September is filled with excellent autumn running events including the Race for the Cure in Garden of the Gods Park, the monthly Full Moon Run and several special events to celebrate autumn including, Oktoberfest, a Halloween costume run, and one of my personal favorites, the Pony Express Run.

Dog owners will not be left out of the fall festivities this year with a special Oktoberfest run for canines and their humans. Pawtoberfest will run in beautiful Bear Creek Regional Park on on September 20 as the temperatures begin to cool down for autumn and the comfort of our furry running partners.

The Pony Express Trail Run is one of the most beautiful and enjoyable races in the Pikes Peak region. According to he official website, the race "originated quite a few years ago, as far back as 1977. The initial PPRR newsletter of April of 1977 shows the Pony Express scheduled for October 15th. At that time, the race was run from Woodland Park to Monument. At one time, it was run on the Section 16 trails in SW Colorado Springs. It has been at the Rampart Reservoir location for at least 10 years, if not more". Care must be exercised on the trail around Rampart Reservoir as it can get very uneven and rocky at points. There also tree roots growing across the trail in place that must be negotiated. In this race, every finisher is a winner. There are no overall or age group winners and each finisher is given a unique award.

Oktoberfest kicks off in Colorado Springs at the Citadel Mall on Saturday, September 27 with a 5k run. The course is an out and back on Sand Creek Trail and runners will be awarded a beer stein and drink coupon as well as entry to the Oktoberfest Celebration at Security Service Field in Colorado Springs.

Autumn running really gets rolling in October with the 35 year old PPRR Fall Series, four races of increasing distance culminating in a seven mile run in beautiful colorful Palmer Park. According to the official PPRR website, “This is a progressive series, meaning each run is longer than the previous one. The series scoring is based on cumulative time of all 4 races. If you run all four races, you will receive a special award and will be eligible for age group and overall awards. If you run one, two or three races, you will get a specially designed t-shirt.”. These are rugged trail runs on terrain that varies from well maintained to treacherous. Prepare to get wet and muddy in this series. The Fall runs begin on Sunday, October 5 in North Monument Valley Park followed by races in Bear Creek Park - West , Ute Valley Park and finishing in Palmer Park on November, 16 with the award ceremony in November at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Visit the PPRR website for all the details.

Additional runs in October include a XTERRA Marathon of Trail Races on Sunday October 12, the Peace Officers' Memorial Valor Run on October 18, and finally the season wraps up with the YMCA Creepy Crawl to celebrate Halloween.

There are dozens of additional events on the schedule all over the Colorado Front Range to enjoy this fall season. Be sure to consult the complete autumn race calendar to find an event near you.