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7am, Manitou Springs City Hall. A scaffolding of banners overhead, beautiful sunny day. Crazy runners crowded onto the street, nervously looking up at the summit 13.32 miles away, trotting back and forth anxiously for quick, last minute trips to the port-a-potties. A goosebump-raising singing of America the Beautiful, a rush of adrenaline and at last: the gun- the moment I’ve waited 365 days for, the official beginning to the celebration of my favorite weekend all year long.

Four months of training have come to this moment. Hundreds of miles, hours of core work. I feel ready. I’m ready to conquer this mountain I revere.

But, in the words of Edmund Hillary, “it’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves”. Every run out there, the mountain teaches us something new. Patience, perseverance, respect, and of course, the reminder that you better not forget sunscreen unless you want to be a lobster again! It allows us to improve, day to day, week to week, year to year, so long as we put in the time (and possibly an occasional extra sacrifice of blood from a misstep and subsequent fall.) It molds our bodies, adapting to trail running, and molds our minds to push throughout the climbs. It reminds us that yes, you might have had a crappy run today, but there’s always tomorrow, and after all, how bad of a day can it really be when you can be out on a beautiful trail with great fellow runners and incredible staff and volunteers enjoying a sunny day on America’s Mountain?

The thing about Pikes Peak is the special challenges it presents for each and every one of us. The challenge of the consistent uphill is something I love to conquer, something that has kept me coming back for 5 years. For “challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful” – Joshua J. Marine.

A challenge every runner must overcome is their own mind and concept of limits. Break free from the nagging, yet convincing voice saying, “But this is uphill, that means prime walking territory!” and you’ll break free from your previous PRs. From this breakthrough yields meaning, a lifetime of memories and motivation. So while I’m chugging up Pikes Peak this weekend, I’ll be saying over and over to myself, “Power. Breakthrough” to push through the tough spots.

Now, with less than 10 hours until the gun spurs us ahead, I can’t contain my excitement for this weekend. I can’t wait for the singing of America the Beautiful, the ‘Halfway to Heaven’ signs welcoming runners to Barr Camp, listening for the booming and encouraging voice from the summit cascading all the way to below A-Frame, the kuzoo-playing Search and Rescue at the Cirque, and the crowds of spectators cheering at the summit. I can’t wait for the taste of pickles at Barr Camp on the descent of the marathon, the happy sight of volunteers at Bob’s Road, and the heroic, goosebump-raising, adrenaline-rushing, crying-from-happiness sound of “Chariots of Fire” welcoming me to the spur in Barr Trail to Ruxton Avenue. I can’t wait for the screams and cowbells as I try not to grunt my way down Ruxton Avenue to the finish, and I can’t wait for the refreshing feeling of the mist spritzing out of the car wash sprinklers steps away from the marathon finish.

Thank you so much to all the amazing volunteers, Search & Rescue, race committee, and sponsors of both the Triple Crown of Running and the Pikes Peak Sports Triple Crown Team – you all put on some of the best races and make this weekend my absolute favorite.

Happy Pikes Peak Weekend!!! Good luck to all runners! And a special shout-out to my running family: to my fellow doubling brother, mom, and cousin, Ascenting stepdad, marathoning cousin, and Leadville 100 running dad. 

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Comment by Megan Kunkel on August 18, 2013 at 11:39pm
Thank you, Mel!! You too!!!!
Comment by Melvin Watson on August 18, 2013 at 4:15pm

Way to go Megan!!!!

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