Some participants want nothing but to finish Ascent
By DAVE PHILIPPS
The winner of the Pikes Peak Ascent usually reaches the finish on the 14,110-foot summit in less than two and a half hours. The top 20 runners trot in under three.
Then there are the other 1,600 entrants who train religiously for the big day when they jog, walk and sometimes almost crawl the 7,815 feet from Manitou Springs to the top, chasing personal goals.
Some use the race as a reason to stay in shape, some for bragging rights. Some, like the 100 or so members of the Arkansas Pikes Peak Marathon Society who drive out each year, seem to be part of a masochistic flatland cult.
And some do it simply to see if they can.
Members of this last group set their goal as low as a goal can be set on a 14,000-foot peak: just finish.
Linda Aiman, 58, a substitute teacher with no history of running, is one of the slow but determined.
She has never entered the Pikes Peak Ascent before, but has been training with the Incline Club, a group of runners coached by Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon record-holder Matt Carpenter, for a year.
Almost every Thursday, she jogs up Barr Trail with the club. On the weekends, she does a long run on the peak.
I dont actually run, to be honest, she said after a recent afternoon workout. I walk very fast, but thats a big improvement.
When she started training with the club last summer, she couldnt go far before stopping. Now, a week before the race, she still proclaims herself the caboose of the club, but said the months of training have paid off.
Im consistent. I can go all the way to Barr Camp without stopping. I dont go fast. I call it trudging, she said.
She thinks she can climb the peak in less than six hours, more than twice the winning time. She hopes it will be fast enough.
Even the most leisurely racers compete against the clock. Anyone who does not reach a small cabin at treeline, called the A-frame, in four and a half hours is turned back. In severe weather, sometimes the cutoff time is earlier.
Many racers who miss this limit keep going, but after the cutoff they dont get their official finishing time or a finishers medal.
In the races eyes, they cease to exist.
If all goes well Saturday, Aiman said shell breeze past the cutoff just in time and chug up the last three miles to the finish.
Thats my goal, just to beat the time, she said. I want one of those medals awfully badly.
DETAILS: The Pikes Peak Ascent is Saturday. The Pikes Peak Marathon is Sunday. Information: www.pikespeak marathon.org.
CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0223 or email@example.com
Copyright 2005, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information. All rights reserved. Used with permission.