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The 2011 PikesPeakSports.us Triple Crown Runners team page

PikesPeakSports.us and the Triple Crown of Running are proud to announce the members of the 2011 PikesPeakSports.us Triple Crown Runners racing team. The team was chosen from a group of 60 applicants following a tough selection process. Our team consists of regular people, your neighbors and friends who train and run in the Pikes Peak Region. These runners have dedicated themselves to completing the Triple Crown series: the Garden of the Gods 10 Mile Run, the Summer Roundup Run and either the Pikes Peak Ascent or Marathon. The team consists of runners of various abilities, from competitive age-group contenders Brandon Stapanowich and Amy Perez, to 58-year-old Alexis Smith, a cancer survivor who has a goal of reaching the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak. They've agreed to share their experiences on PikesPeakSports.us. Look for their updates every couple of weeks. We'll provide photos and even some video interviews as we roll through the summer season. This is going to be fun. Special thanks to the Colorado Sports and Spine Centers and Frank Hennessy for their support.


Alexis Smith, 58,
semi-retired, cancer survivor

Alexis' blog
This is ... It!
Two races, one message
Four-footed running partners
No Garmin...no problem
The world is (not) flat
Garden of the Gods Race - 10 miles with infinite possibilities
Colorado weather (you like it or not)
Unfinished Business
While at Garden of the Gods

How long have you been a runner?
I have been in and out of running since my early 20's, hung out in Boston at the Elliot Bar on Mass Ave. where I met a crazy group of runners. Then life gets in the way and running drops by the wayside. I moved back to it when I realized how much I miss the space and quietness of running. I am newer to trail running, came at it during my last reincarnation as a runner. I love trails. There is something personal for me that happens on trails. I am present to life in a very immediate and direct way. It doesn't get any better.

Tell us about your best race.
Best race was Collegiate Peaks 2010. It was on the first anniversary of my last chemo. I got to show up. I got to finish (25m). I was last. I didn't care about being last . Its all good.

What do you like about the Triple Crown?
The Triple Crown moves through three different courses, with the end goal being to get up Pikes. Three local races, each with its own flavor and challenges that are spaced through the summer. The first two races set the training tone, with always an eye to the last one. My race is with myself, to finish each course with the best I can put out. Its interesting that running enables even an older runner the ability to test themselves. The pack is big enough for the contenders, the middle, and those of us who are along for the ride, who know we are racing with ourselves, for ourselves, for the pure pleasure of showing up and doing our best. Got to love a sport that invites so much diversity.

Why do you run?
Trails are seductive. Running snakes me around and up and down places that invite exploration . Running pulls me away from the things that cause me fear, distress, or anxiety, then after a bit, places me back into those things, but with a clarity and peace that I can not recreate elsewhere. I am alive when I run. I am still a cancer survivor. Running is an affirmation of life. I feel my breath move in and out. The sun or wind or rain hits my face. I get tired. Sweaty. I know that later all the side effects from the cancer treatment will regroup. But for now I am free and alive . That's what running is for me.

Where is your favorite place to run and why?
There is no one place that is a favorite place. I enjoy the trails on the west side of town. The reservoir area is a great place to go when I am bringing the dog. I have been spending time recently just going to places that I haven't run before and trying them out.

Brandon Stapanowich, 26
pediatric physical therapist at
Memorial Hospital's outpatient clinic

Brandon's blog
(3) 2-1 ... The Final Countdown
"I just felt like Running"
Summertime: The Magnificent Seven and the Epic BBQ at altitude
Keepin' my pancakes on the rocks: Food for thought
Summer Roundup 12K Race Report
Changing: The ephemeral nature of life and running
'Caus it's a Bitter Sweet Symphony that's Life (and Ultrarunning)'
Home at Garden of the Gods (Race Report)
DANGER: Hay loading ahead
Running backwards with time
Cross training: They say if you love some running, then you have got to set it free ...
Be Here Now: A lesson from the Garden of the Gods

How long have you been a runner?
I picked up running about eight years ago after playing one year of college soccer

Tell us about your best race.
I've won two races in my career, the 2008 Sunset Stampede in Asheville, N.C., and the 2008 Beast of the East Half Iron distance Triathlon in Hiawassee, Ga. But my best moment occurred during of the 2005 Boston Marathon. As I rounded the last stretch on Boylston to meet the roar of hundreds of spectators, I became overwhelmed by fatigue, dehydration, and the magnitude of the moment. In what felt like a slowmotion collapse, my body rebelled, my legs buckled, and I found myself on all fours, unable to stand. With the finish line in sight, my only thought was whether to crawl or log roll the final 30 yards. Fortunately, a flash of reason urged me crawl and so I did, with eyes shut and knees bleeding. Upon crossing the finish line, I collapsed, was scooped into a wheelchair, received an IV in a medical tent, and was up and moving in 30 minutes. The following year I received an e-mail from an Adidas rep asking permission to use a photo of me crawling in an ad for the 2006 Boston Marathon. And so I ran again in 2006 to witness my picture plastered all over town: on billboards, buses, taxis, subway stations. I even saw it on a giant poster as I crossed the finish line (this time on two feet).

What do you like about the Triple Crown?
Series races are great in general because you get to see familiar faces throughout the racing season, but the Triple Crown is special because its a measure of how well-rounded a runner is. It incorporates roads and trails, rolling hills and steep climbs, and and altitude.

Why do you run?
The reasons why I run are ever-evolving. I run not as a means of staving off complacent indolence but in pursuit of feeling alive. I run to justify eating an inordinate amount of peanut butter (I currently put away two and a half jars a week which I'm not too proud of). I run for sanity and time to think, just as much as I run for the luxury of not having to think. I run in defiance of my ulcerative colitis diagnosis. I run so that I may continue to rescue the unlucky sock that my dog routinely takes hostage as he "butt tucks" through the house. I run in search of my physical and mental limits. I run because its what ultimately makes me happy.

Where is your favorite place to run and why?
Too many places to choose from (that's what makes this area great!) but basically any trails on the west side: Ute Pass, Barr, Longs Ranch, Waldo Canyon, any of the Garden of the Gods trails, Intemann, and the list continues to grow!

Amy Perez, 36, Director of Research and Communications at a Space Training Center
Amy's Blog
The money is in the bank, don't cash any until Saturday!
What do babysitters have to do with trail running?
Cupcakes, NO! ... Suffering, YES! Summer Roundup race report
UPANDOVER .. Garden of the Gods race report
What's not to love about the Garden of the Gods?
The unset finish line
The usual suspects
Staying Focused

How long have you been a runner?
Twelve years of running for running’s sake. Team sports in high school and college.

Tell us about your best race.
My best race was the 2010 Pikes Peak Ascent. Training for the Ascent is when I realized I love trail running. I have never made as many friends running as I did training for this event and it was by far the hardest race I have ever run. I actually was sad it was over when I got to the finish line so, this year I signed up for the marathon, too!

What do you like about the Triple Crown?
Last year was the first year I ran the Triple Crown or any of the races for that matter. I thoroughly enjoyed the unique challenge that each race presented. The pavement and hills of the Garden, the steep, consistent up in the Roundup only to turn around and barrel yourself all the way back down. And then the Ascent. How can you not look at Pikes Peak every day and not be proud to have run to the top? Training forced me to new trails, pushed me to new limits and introduced me to at least a dozen new, fabulous trail running friends.

Why do you run?
For me, running is about me being me. It is when there is some semblance of order. It is when I sort through problems and when life makes the most sense, or, even if it doesn't make sense, it is still OK. It is when I get a chance to think about everything and nothing all at the same time. But most of all it is when I feel most like me. I love the friends I have made that I think share these same feelings with me.

Where is your favorite place to run and why?
My favorite place to run is currently the Falcon Trail on the US Air Force Academy. It is a beautifully difficult kick in the pants every single time.

Jen Shotwell, 45, aquatics specialist, YMCA
Jen's Blog
A Surprising Win
Sailin' Shoes
Garden of the Gods 10-Mile: Making peace with setbacks
Better late than never

How long have you been a runner?
Well I'm a late bloomer as far as running goes...started running about one year ago with Jack Quinn's running club. Then entered two sprint triathlons last summer. It was that 'oh my gosh I'm in my mid-40s' thing. Then last fall '10 a ran my longest distance race...the HRBC trail half marathon.

Tell us about your best race
My best finish so far was placing first in my age group at the Rescue Run this year ... what a bitter, cold day that was. The best race experience I've had so far would have to be running the Pikes Peak Road Runners Winter Series this year. I was very surprised to place third in my age group in the short series. The series was well organized and I enjoyed the challenge of different race courses and weather conditions.

What do you like about the Triple Crown?
Why the Triple Crown? Well let's just say that my friend Nancy Hobbs got me interested and I've lived here 6 years and never hiked to the top of Pikes Peak.

Why do you run?
I enjoy running because I love being outside! It also gives me a chance to clear my head.

Where is your favorite place to run and why?
I enjoy running in Monument Valley Park and Palmer park both easy to get from my house.

Aaron Atwood, 37, Director of Development for Summit Ministries in Manitou Springs

Aaron's blog
Bears AND Rattlesnakes
Shuffle in the dark
Mind games
Yeah, it's hard to explain
Back on the wagon
Crushed it!
Pre-Race jitters
A lunch break on the W's
Are you are Runner?
The difference a team makes
Keeping track of time
40 Days and Counting

How long have you been a runner?
I’ve been running since 1990 when I naively joined the boys cross country team for Grand Island Senior High School.I didn't even own a pair of running shoes. I think I wore Nike Air Jordans for the try-outs. I didn’t quit so I made the team.

Tell us about your best race.
My best race was a high school track meet at Fountain-Fort Carson High School. I was slotted to run the 4x400 Meter Relay. Less than 100 meters into my leg, a guy cut me off. That made me mad and I finished in around 56 seconds. That was fast for me. The ¼ mile is great. It’s short, flat and over before you know you're tired.

What do you like about the Triple Crown?
What a series! Garden of the Gods, Bear Creek Park and Pikes Peak in three months. Over 8,000 feet of elevation gain between the three races. It’s an amazing combination of scenery, competition and guts. I also like it because my wife doesn’t think I can do it. I love pushing her buttons.

Why do you run?
I recently started running again for my wife and kids. Both my parents are disabled. In a routine physical a few years ago, my doctor suggested that I exercise more in order bring my cholesterol down and offset some of my genetic disposition to health problems. I run because I want my daughters to grow up with a dad. I want my wife to have me around when she’s old. I run for myself too. It gives me confidence and I truly appreciate the gift of this human body when it’s being pushed to do things I don’t think are humanly possible . I got started running simply because somebody asked me to join them on a run. There's a lesson there I think. We can inspire someone to begin a journey just by having them join us for a mile or two of our own journey.

Where is your favorite place to run and why?
Barr Trail is my current favorite. But I haven’t made it very far up the thing yet. The trailhead isn’t far from my office at Summit Ministries in Manitou Springs. It’s my favorite because it’s hard and relatively remote. I feel like I’ve both gotten away from things and accomplished something when I’ve finished.

Lee Rhodes, 77, retired geologist
Lee's Blog
And Experiment of One
A first time for everything

How long have you been a runner?
Since 1977. I started at age 44 after running track in high school.

Tell us about your best race.
Pikes Peak Marathon, 2003. I finished in 7:05 at age 70. I fell coming down the W's and gashed my forehead on the split rail fence. It rstill finished the race even though my forehead required 25 stitches!

What do you like about the Triple Crown?
Great organization, reasonable entry fees, and beautiful courses.

Why do you run?
To be outside in the mountains (commune with nature?) and to stay healthy.

Where is your favorite place to run and why?
Anywhere on the Western States Trail.

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