UPDATE: Spectators will not be allowed on the course. Read below for more information.
For 56 years, runners have tested themselves on Pikes Peak’s steep Barr Trail. The history of the Pikes Peak Ascent and Pikes Peak Marathon is rich with dramatic tales of strength and courage, success and failure above the clouds.
On Sunday, Aug. 28, a new chapter in Pikes Peak running will be written – this time on the Pikes Peak Highway - when runners line up at the toll gate for the start of the inaugural Pikes Peak Road Ascent, an 11.6-mile run to Glen Cove.
“This new race offers some unique opportunities for runners,” said Nancy Hobbs, co-race director. “It’s the first chance to run on the Pikes Peak Highway, which is closed to cyclists and runners every other day of the year.”
Hobbs, along with co-race director Ron Ilgen and U.S. Mountain Running team member Tommy Manning, ran on the race route last month. She said the Pikes Peak Highway looks and feels much different on foot than in a car.
VIDEO: Race organizers discuss new event and the chances of seeing a Bigfoot
“Runners will get to experience the different ecosystems and scenery in a whole new perspective,” she said. “And running on the highway is not nearly as intimidating as Barr Trail because you get the chance to look around and enjoy scenery without worrying about your footfalls.”
Ilgen and Hobbs realized they had an opportunity to create the new race a year ago when the Assault on the Peak bike event made it’s maiden run from Manitou Springs to the summit of Pikes Peak and back. They approached Pat McDonough, Assault on the Peak event director, and the plans to add the run were sealed. This year, runners will share the road with cyclists in the second Assault on the Peak event.
“It just made sense,” said Ilgen, race director for the Triple Crown, which includes the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. “We know how to do running races on the mountain.”
Manning, who recently placed second in the Pikes Peak Ascent, said the new Pikes Peak Road Ascent is a race that anyone can do. There’s no reason to be apprehensive.
“Anybody can run this course,” Manning said. “Anybody looking for a new challenge should do it. It's not as long as running up Barr Trail, it's not as steep.”
He said the road makes the running easy. It’s nothing like running on narrow and technical Barr Trail.
“The footing is good the entire way,” he said. “There are no rocks or roots to worry about and the road is wide enough to pass or get passed with ease. Nobody has to worry about getting stuck behind someone slower than them on the trail. “
Mountain runners and road runners used to altitude will enjoy the race. The course begins at an elevation of 7,750 feet and ends at 11,425 feet, just below timberline at Glen Cove. The grade averages 5 to 8 percent with some of the steepest climbing in the first mile.
“Road runners will be able to do well because it isn’t all that steep,” Manning said.
There will be several aid stations along the way.
The competition should be excellent with women’s Pikes Peak Ascent winner Kim Dobson and Lisa Goldsmith (third in the Ascent) in the hunt. In the men’s race, longtime mountain runner and three-time Ascent champion Simon Gutierrez and Manning will lead the way.
Runners can register online at Iamathlete.com through 6 p.m. Saturday. Late registration and packet pickup is available at ProCycling, 600 S. 21st St., from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday.
Press truck: Members of the media will be able to catch a ride on a press truck. Please be at the starting line at The Pikes Peak Highway toll gate at 7:30 a.m.
Other good information to know
- Parking – there is limited parking near the start (within ¾ to 1 mile). Carpool or have someone drop you off near the start area. You can also park in Manitou Springs and make your way to Memorial Park (in Manitou at corner of El Paso and Manitou Avenue) for a shuttle bus to the start. Bus transport will leave promptly from Memorial Park at 6:30 a.m. and at 7:00 a.m.
- Sweat Check – you can check your sweat bag (we provide plastic bag) at the start line and we’ll transport to the finish line
- Shuttles – we will shuttle all runners from the finish line back to the start line, or to Manitou Springs. Positively NO running back down the highway (even to see your loved one finish), and NO running further up the highway after you cross the finish line.
- Spectators – You can watch your loved one at the start, but spectators will not be allowed on the course (we previously stated an option for spectators). Runners will finish at Glen Cove and be shuttled back to the start or to Manitou Springs.
- Aid stations – at approximately the 1.8 mile, 3.5 mile, 5.5 mile, 7 mile, 8.5 mile,10 mile and finish. Water at all, Acli-Mate Mountain Sports Drink at 5.5 mile, 8.5 mile and finish. Snacks at the finish line. We encourage ALL runners to carry water either in a bottle, or hydration unit and fill up at aid stations as needed. If you would like to try Acli-Mate prior to race day, you can purchase product at Whole Foods, or Criterium Bike Shop in Colorado Springs.
- Awards ceremony and lunch – starts at noon and runs until 4PM in Manitou Springs’ Memorial Park. Awards ceremony at 2 PM. Lunch provided for all participants, $8 for guests.
- Awards – presented to top 5 overall men/women and age group winners. Special awards will be presented at the Triple Crown awards ceremony in September. Results will be posted at http://www.ccrtiming.com/ following the event.
- Bike Ride – We are hosting this historic event in conjunction with the 2nd Annual Assault on the Peak, a bike ride from Manitou Springs to the summit of Pikes Peak. We will be sharing the road with cyclists. Cyclists will pass runners on the left.
- Finisher shirt – pick up your finisher shirt at the finish line.
- Volunteers – if you know of someone who would like to volunteer, please let us know at 719-473-2625 or 719-573-4133.
- Chip Timing – this event is chip timed. You must cross over the mat (ie: step on the mat and continue on up the road) at the 10 mile point (mile marker 11 on the highway) and at the finish line at Glen Cove.
- We greatly thank our sponsors: Matthews Chiropractic, Wal-Mart, Acli-Mate, Bristol Brewing, Outthere.com, Emergicare, Colorado Institute of Massage Therapy, and Pikespeaksports.us.
Race organizers would like to thank the Pikes Peak Highway for the opportunity to stage this historic event.
The Colorado Institute of Massage Therapy will provide post race massages in Memorial Park during the lunch/awards ceremony. Tips are encouraged.
And one last suggestion. This year, race organizers say there has been an increase in Big Foot sightings along the Pikes Peak Highway. Be aware at all times … just sayin’.