The Triple Crown of Running is well underway in the Pikes Peak region near Colorado Springs with two events already behind us. The 38th annual Garden of the Gods Ten Mile was run on June 8, 2014 and the Summer Roundup 12k run was held in Bear Creek Park on July 6, 2014. The Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon are the final leg of the series and will be run on August 16 and 17, 2014. According to the official web site, "Series results are based on the cumulative race times for the three events. For those who run both the Ascent and Marathon (the Double) the faster ascent time will be used.".
Macdonard Ondara hailing from Santa Fe, New Mexico claimed first place in the wicked hills of the Garden of the Gods Ten Miler with an official chip time of 51:18. Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton of White Plains, District of Columbia set a new course record for the women with a time of 55:55. Winning the Summer Roundup 12k was Andy Wacker of Boulder, Colorado crossing the finish line in 41:02. Coming in first for the women was local runner Sarah Guhl from Colorado Springs with a time of 55:33.
The overall winner of the event will be decided on the grueling 14 mile Bar Trail leading to the summit of majestic 14,115 foot Pikes Peak. This daunting race begins in Manitou Springs, Colorado and treats runners to a gentle jaunt through town before taking a turn for the worst. At the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, runners are soon treated to the steep switchbacks of the first three miles of the 8000 foot climb of this rugged lung busting course. From there runners get a chance to jostle for position on a few miles of not so horrible terrain culminating in rest and refreshments at the historic Barr Camp. The trail becomes tougher over the next several miles to the A-Frame camp near the tree line. Finally, the death march above the tree line between 11 and 14,000 feet will decimate the field with only the hardiest runners able to continue at a respectable pace. The rest will struggle just to survive the cruelty of the thin alpine air and the rugged rocks of the steep winding trail. Weather conditions of any kind may be encountered there, from brutal blazing sun to terrifying thunderstorms and even the possibility of a wintry blast of snow. Once at the summit, only the most intrepid runners will attempt the quad destroying descent of the full marathon. Fatigue and confusion from the extreme altitude often cause falls and certain injury. Storms are most likely in the afternoon while the runners are still on the mountain. In the end though, the blood and the sweat will be worth the bragging rights for those who completed the Double.
Eric M. Blake of West Hartford, Connecticut topped the 2013 Ascent field with a time of 2:13:45 and Colorado runner Kim S. Dobson of Grand Junction won for the women with a time of 2:41:43. Japanese speedster Touru Miyahara won the long race for the men making the summit in 3:43:23 and our own Colorado runner Stevie Kremer of Crested Butte topped the women's field for the double with a time of 4:17:10.
This years race has the honor of being named as the Long Distance Challenge of the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA), one of the most prestigious race associations in the world. The designation of Long Distance Challenge gives the Pikes Peak trail run the distinction of being the de facto world championship of long distance running. The 59th race up America's Mountain will undoubtedly live up to it's reputation as one of the most difficult and brutal races in the world.