PEAK PLAYS DEFENSE
760 runners finish cold journey up mountain amid wind, hail, snow
By KATE CRANDALL
Pikes Peak Ascent participants expect to push themselves step by step toward the summit, carving the peak into pieces switchback by switchback.
But Saturday, they encountered the elements, too. The wind flung hail and snow and only intensified already frigid temperatures, culminating in what some called the worst-ever conditions.
Simon Gutierrez, 43, of Alamosa captured his third Ascent title, while Baileys Brandy Erholtz, 30, captured her first title. Lynn Bjorklund, 51, who holds the Ascent female course record, was the only runner to set an age-group record, beating the 1998 mark by more than four minutes.
For most everyone else, it was about survival.
Only 760 of the 1,972 who registered completed the 13.32-mile march. The rest either quit or were turned back midmorning by race organizers because of the weather.
Similar conditions are possible for todays Pikes Peak Marathon, which starts at the 600 block of Manitou Avenue at 7 a.m.
Copyright 2008, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information. All rights reserved. Used with permission.