August 23, 2009

Pikes Peak Ascent 2009 Report

Pikes Peak Ascent 1 – Me 0

Pikes Peak got the best of me last Saturday.

Let me first say that this race is excellently managed. Race organizers devised a scheme to:

- Shuttle runners off the top of the mountain in a timely fashion
- Shuttle spectators up and down a portion of the mountain
- Backpack in and set up aid stations in remote areas of the trail
- Recruit the assistance of medical personnel/search and rescue
- Recruit hundreds of joyful volunteers
- Give out cool finisher’s jacket and other race day goodies
- Manage everything else that goes with organizing a race

The Race:

I took it out real easy from the start making sure not to get caught up in the hype. After 1 or 2 miles, someone shouted out, “18th place.” I figured this was accurate based on how many people were ahead of me from the gun. (*But then around mile 10, having only passed maybe 2 or 3 people, someone shouted I was in 7th. How was I in 7th? 18-3=15th…Maybe there wasn’t enough oxygen going to the brain or I simply misheard).

I maintained my position (18th or 7th) during the relatively flatter middle miles of the race. I felt pretty good considering I earlier questioned my ability to finish after the steep first 4-5 miles. Furthermore, around mile 7 I was rejuvenated by a large deer standing within 20 feet on the trail between the summit and I. I got excited and even commented to the guy next to me on how great this was. So for the next few miles I chugged away gobbling up distance and elevation.

The last 3-4 miles were torture. I was a disaster. I could hardly see or even lift my legs at this point. I veered off the course due to my own stupor on two different occassions during the final 3 miles. First, I ran right past two volunteers standing at a switchback who werent paying attention. They quickly redirected me back on course. Second, another runner coming from behind gained a spot on me going in the correct direction on the swithback and yelled out to follow him. I was a disaster and I’m not ashamed to say that I walked the majority of the last few miles. With 3 miles to go I probably jogged/walked 70/30. With 2 miles to go that ratio were more like 30/70 and the last mile had 1/99 ratio with the final 60 feet making up the 1% run portion.

I don’t remember how I managed to stay upright without tumbling down the mountain nor can I explain what it feels like to have a guy pass you going 15 min/mile pace but I made it to the finish line. All that matters is that I finished. In the shuttle down the mountain after the race, I learned that I was as high as 6th place. I have no idea how I got as high as 6th place because I felt like there were at least 10-15 people ahead of me right off the gun and I only passed 2 or 3. Haha. This meant in the final 3 miles I squandered 7 positions. I hardly remember anyone passing me let alone 7 people. I suppose all of this amnesia is a good thing…I may forget how painful it was and be dumb enough to sign up for next year.


I felt really good after the race. Any time you finish a race and give your best effort, especially longer races, you can’t help but to feel good about your accomplishment. Also, I felt extraordinary after emptying the contents of my stomach on sidewalk of Manitou Ave after that horrendous bus ride down the mountain.


I was partly disappointed after the race, not so much in my finishing place or time, but rather the fact that I didn’t train harder for it. I am eager to return back next year and go after it again.

Thank You:

Julie D- The sole member of my race crew.

The Bus Driver- Sorry for the mess I made on your bus. I tried to hold it in.

The Department of Health and Safety, Manitou Springs- Sorry for the toxic spill on the sidewalk on the 550th block of Manitou Ave.

Standing on Manitou Ave with coveted finishers jacket

Manitou Ave

Camping after the race

Red Rocks Outdoor Concert Venue

I can't get away from these things

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