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Barr Trail Mountain Race to celebrate its fourteenth running

Waiting for the first runners
Waiting for the first runners
Nancy Hobbs

On Sunday, July 13, 2014, the 12..6-mile Barr Trail Mountain Race will celebrate its 14th running. Held in Manitou Springs, CO, the event starts at the Cog Railway located on Ruxton Avenue at an elevation of 6,570 feet. After a short uphill stretch on pavement, the course connects to the Barr Trail and follows the trail to Barr Camp located at an elevation of 10,200 feet, and then returns back down Barr Trail with a finish at the power station 3/4 of the way up Hydro Drive, just west of the Cog Railway start line.

Brandy Erholtz at BTMR 2010
Nancy Hobbs

The inaugural event was held in 2000, and except for the cancellation of the race in 2012 due to the Waldo Canyon Fire, it has been held every year since. Says first-year race director Peter Maksimow, himself a four-time finisher of the race, “After the very destructive events in Manitou Springs of 2012 (fire) and 2013 (floods), the race was struggling and its future was in question. This is one of the classic mountain races in the country and Brandon Stapanowich and myself decided that the mountain and trail running community, along with the Manitou Springs community as a whole, really needed it to continue, so we took the race under our wing and are nurturing it to return it back to its old glory days.”

It’s not just tradition, it’s a great course. “The BTMR is a true mountain race, testing a runner's ability on long, grinding climbs, gnarly, fast and technical downhills and transitions to fast turnover in a few flat sections, all while being at fairly high altitudes,” said Maksimow.

There is a three hour and 30 minute cut-off time which is a challenge to some participants, but it is part of the of the allure of the race. “Run hard, push your body to its limits and EARN your finisher shirt and perhaps a unique, handmade benchmark plaque,” said Maksmow. “The versatile runner who has done the preparation will be successful.”

The aid stations, manned by local high school track and cross country teams who vie for bragging rights as well as a donation to their programs, are located at the start/finish, the Incline Overlook, No Name Creek, Bob's Road, and Barr Camp. In the past, approximately $6,000 has been distributed to local high schools, with the grand prize going to the popular vote for the most energetic, best-themed and voted most likely to “help me get through this painful race with a smile on my-face.”

Aid stations will be stocked with sports drink and water which is toted up the treacherous service roads thanks to volunteer Tyler Purvine and his cold war-era Pinzgauer and friends at the Rocky Mountain Pinzgauer Club.

In addition to supporting the high schools, proceeds from race registrations are donated to three non-profits to include El Paso County Search and Rescue, Barr Camp, and Friends of the Peak.

Competition should be fierce for the $1500 prize purse. “We are still forming a solid group of competitive athletes, which the BTMR is know for,” said Maksimow.

Expected on the start line this Sunday will be course record holder from 2010 Brandy Erholtz who is a five-time member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team, two-time Pikes Peak Ascent champion, two-time Mount Washington Road Race Champion, and multi-time NACAC Mountain Running Champion.

She will face Amy Friedman who in 2012 won the North Face Endurance Challenge 26 miler in New York, Julia Veseth, sixth place finisher in this year’s Greenland 25K Trail Race and winner of this year’s Desert Rats Trail Festival 50K, and Monica Folts, a top finisher in this year’s Mount Evans Ascent.

On the men’s side, last year’s champion Alex Nichols will be on the start line to defend his title. Jared Hazen, who has taken the ultra running world by storm with his third-place finish at Rocky Raccoon 100 and his recent 14th-place finish at the Western States 100 will be competing as will Scott Spillman, who finished third at last year’s event. Geoffrey Terer, known for his fast road times and Mt. Evans Ascent victory in 2012, is poised to add to the competition.

First-tmer at the race will be Joseph Gray, who recently relocated to Colorado Springs from Washington state. Gray is a five-time North American Central American and Caribbean Mountain Running champion, 15-time USA Team Member, and eight-time U.S. National Champion. Last month, Gray won the Mt. Washington Road Race in an impressive 59:10, and on July 6, he won the USA Mountain Running Championships at Loon Mountain in Lincoln, NH.

Andy Wacker, winner of the 2014 Mt. Evans Ascent and last weekend’s Summer Roundup 12K Trail Race will test his mountain legs at the BTMR in advance of representing Team USA at the WMRA World Long Distance Challenge to be hosted by the Pikes Peak Ascent on August 16.

Course records may be in jeopardy. They stand at 1:29:05 for the men, set in 2010 by Ryan Hafer, and Erholtz’s 1:47:57 set that same year.

Race sponsors include presenting sponsor, Pikes Peak National Bank, Manitou Brewing Company, Front Range BBQ, Select PT, The Roman Villa, Swiftwick, Inov-8, Boulder Running Company, Enduro Bites, and the Michael Everson Agency.

For complete results after the race and historical results in advance, visit this link.

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