Marathon goes international
By TIM BERGSTEN
The Pikes Peak Marathon could become a regular stop for the Buff Skyrunner World Series, an international series of running races at high altitude.
Everybody has heard about this race, it is world famous, said Lauri Van Houten, spokesperson for the Skyrunner Series.
There will be some bugs to work out between the entities. The Skyrunners operate under a different set of rules. Marathon officials learned that lesson the hard way during Sundays race when Skyrunners cut corners on the course while descending from Pikes Peaks summit. That practice is allowed in series races.
But the deal seems good for the marathon, which will be featured on European television this year, according to Van Houten.
One thing we can guarantee is visibility in the European press, she said.
With the series comes more competition and the chance for prize money, something the Pikes Peak Marathon has never been famous for.
Galen Burrell, the official marathon winner Sunday, said he would welcome competition from overseas.
I think it was great to have international competition, he said.
He still has it
This from a guy who has completed the worlds toughest bicycle race four times and the difficult Giro dItalia three times.
That was as hard as any stage Ive done, Pierce said at the finish line.
Pierce, 46, lives in Colorado Springs with his son, Logan, and girlfriend Joanne Kiesanowski, a road cyclist who he trains and who recently competed in the womens Olympic road race.
The Pikes Peak Marathon was Pierces first attempt at the distance. He finished in 4 hours, 59 minutes, 51 seconds.
I started running on trails, and it was cool, and one thing led to another, and I thought Id do a marathon, Pierce said. I guess I started with the toughest one. But thats OK because the Tour de France was my first pro cycling race.
Race director Ron Ilgen made the call at noon, four hours after the second wave of runners had started in Manitou Springs.
About 183 runners turned back. The four-hour turnaround time was 30 minutes earlier than race officials had planned. Ilgen said he made the decision when search and rescue personnel warned him that a storm was approaching and lighting strikes were reported within six miles of the peak.
I agonized over the decision, but I didnt want to expose the runners or 130 volunteers and 40 more search and rescue people to that kind of weather, Ilgen said.
Some runners were angry at the decision and claimed that there was no race personnel on the course to help them as they descended.
Ilgen said race vehicles were sent to the Barr Trail trailhead to help transport runners back to Manitou Springs.
There werent any serious injuries, and everybody got off the mountain safely, Ilgen said. That is my main concern.
Race record safe
Carpenter did not compete this year, choosing to run the Leadville 100.
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Copyright 2004, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information. All rights reserved. Used with permission.