MANITOU SPRINGS - When runners in the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon make their way up and down the tricky switchbacks known as the “W’s” on Barr Trail, they’ll have the course largely to themselves.
Like last year, the City of Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak Marathon will close the Incline on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 20 and 21, during the Pikes Peak races. The Incline will then remain closed until December as work crews make needed repairs on the old railway bed.
Pikes Peak Marathon, Inc. President Ron Ilgen said safety concerns for all trail users should always be a top priority in such a large-scale backcountry event.
“We again appreciate the support from the City of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs in closing the Incline during the 61st Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon,” Ilgen said. “The chance of injury with runners racing on Barr Trail is our primary concern and we hope that the Incline hikers understand.”
More than 2,400 runners will line up in Manitou Springs for the world-famous mountain races. About 1,600 will run in Saturday’s Ascent, a 13.32-mile climb up Barr Trail to the finish line at the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak. Participants in the marathon will tag the summit then turn back and make a wild down-hill scramble to finish in Manitou Springs.
The Incline ascends nearly 2,000 feet and climbing the challenging staircase of railroad ties has become one of the most popular outdoor activities along Colorado’s Front Range. It’s common for more than 2,000 hikers to make the trip on a weekend day. Since Incline users have traditionally been encouraged to return via Barr Trail, city and marathon officials have agreed that the additional foot traffic from the Incline, mixed with ascent and marathon runners traveling at higher speeds on Barr Trail, creates the possibility for accidents.