The official word
Scanned from the 1997 entry confirmation booklet

Why have these rules if they are not followed?

The truth
Cut-offs were started in 1993

This is not a good trend

What does it mean?


Each year, race organizers like to brag about how the races are filling up earlier. They also like to brag about the fact that they are having to turn more people away — they claimed over 500 this year (1997) alone!

It is an unfortunate side effect that the more hikers allowed spots the less spots are left for runners. Because some spots are filled by people who have 2 or even 3 years of after-cut-off times, top finishers — both overall and age-group — get turned away.

Further, it is a FACT that the race organizers have ALLOWED (on purpose) slower walkers into the first wave so that they will get an extra 1/2 hour cushion. These are people that will have to be passed by people that told the truth about their predicted time and ended up in the second wave! Even worse, a small group is ALLOWED to start the race early so they can make the top before the finish line closes! Besides the fact that they will have to be passed by everyone, it is almost criminal that these people sometimes do NOT get their times adjusted based on when they started. They even get their bogus times printed in the results book!

I feel this trend is due to the efforts of one group of people, or more specifically, the leadership of one group who, ironically, call themselves “Peak Busters.” They have, in writing, raised the possibility of boycotting the races if the cut-offs were not extended for a few select members of their group. The leaders of this group from California have been the ones to REALLY dictate when the finish line shuts down. In fact, one person has been the last one to be timed (or very close to the last one) on three separate occasions!

However, the effects of not enforcing even the most liberal of standards are starting to show. Too many people are coming to the Pikes Peak Ascent & Marathon with the intent of turning it into a “Did-a-thon.” Allowing a “few” exceptions resulted in 67 after-cut-off times in the 1997 Ascent alone. So let me say, also in writing, with 500 runners getting turned away — Peak Busters, please carry out your boycott and good riddance!

1998 addendum: As you can imagine this piece has raised quite the fuss. Especially among the group mentioned above. While there have been those who cried “foul” — there always will be — I also heard from those who had the guts to take a good hard look at themselves. They told me that they did NOT run the race because they felt they did not have a shot at making the cut-off times. One lady, who happens to be a Peak Buster, went so far as to tell me in person “I knew I would not have the time to train so why should I take the spot of someone who did?” She made the trip out and cheered on her fellow runners. On the other hand it turns out one of the people allowed to start before the race managed to set an age-group record! What crap!

1999 addendum: Its a record!!! 80 people managed to get timed after the “official finish line closing” this year! Before the races I spoke with someone very high up in the Peak Busters and we managed to put some issues behind us as we hiked up the Barr Trail. They claim they are no longer asking to let people start before the race — awesome! Now if only the race organization would just close the finish line when they claim perhaps this sad trend would stop! By printing the names and times of these people it only encourages others that it is OK to come out and walk up the mountain on race day! It is hard to wade through the mumble jumble on page 5 of the 1999 confirmation booklet but in my book a closing time is just that — a closing time. What they mean by “within reason” is anyone’s guess. Bottom line: they timed people for an extra 1 hour and 20 minutes in the Ascent and 1 hour and 50 minutes in the marathon.

2000 addendum: Here is a chart to show where the races are headed:

    Average race times
Year    Ascent     Marathon	
1990    4:20:47    6:33:33
1991    4:19:44    6:36:16
1992    4:17:05    6:38:53
1993    4:18:24    6:43:10
1994    4:16:23    6:45:05
1995    4:19:33    6:42:44
1996    4:29:33    6:56:17
1997    4:37:22    6:58:46
1998    4:30:43    7:10:51
1999    4:35:59    7:04:47
2000    4:33:39    7:12:09
As you can see this was the slowest year for the marathon. It was also the slowest men’s winning time since 1967 when only 40 people did the race! John ‘The Penguin’ Bingham wrote this about his 6:04:43 Pikes Peak Ascent, “this is a hike, a walk, or SOMETHING altogether different. It ISN'T a run.” I guess I am surprised how a guy who “waddles” 5:30 flat marathons at sea level would have expected anything but a walk! Finally, you know how in the official results they list people who come in after the cut-off time with the little disclaimer about how they are not eligible for awards and records? Well I was at the 2000 Ascent awards ceremony when a person got awarded 3rd in an age-group for a time that was over five minutes after the 6:30 cut-off! As an aside, getting listed in the results and getting a finisher medal is the only award about 98% of the runners in this race will get so it hardly seems fair that those who come in after the stated official finish line closing time get the exact same recognition!

2001 addendum: Numbers about the same... However this year for all but a few of the after cut-off people they did not list times in the results book. It looks like if the Ascent time was within 1 minute of the cut-off the time got listed in the results. Therefore the ascenter who got timed in 6:30:44 got a name and a time in the regular results while the ascenter with a 6:31:03 only got a name in the section titled “FINISHED PAST OFFICIAL CLOSING TIME (6:30)- NOT ELIGIBLE FOR AWARDS:” Then, to really mix things up, all the marathoners who came in after the cut-off (by as much as 48 minutes) got listed with times in the special section. Where it gets really screwy is how some after cut-off times were used to award TCR series awards as well as to recognize Doublers. In fact, a new female Doubler record (9) was declared using an after cut-off time breaking the previous record (8) from 1993. The person got counted for a 10:09:12 marathon and yet I know of a Doubler that ran a 6:48 ascent (on day two) and got pulled off the course! In the TCR series an age-grouper was given 1st in his age-group for running a 7:13:00 (ASCENT!) and yet at the same time two people who ran faster than 6:45 were given an XX/XX in their age-group. CRAZY!!! How is it that missing by 9:12 gets a person listed as Doubler who is “heightening their experience” but missing by 1:03 does not even get your time listed? How is it that a 6:48 ascent split trying for the Double gets pulled but a 7:13:00 Ascenter wins first in his age-group? It takes time for the TCR to go through the results and selectively bend the rules like this and it is the arbitrary nature of this set-up that makes it so unfair!

As far as average times go, the Ascenters did great compared to recent years while the Marathoners put up the worst day ever. However, to be fair a record high temperature of 94 was set on marathon day!!!

    Average race times
Year    Ascent     Marathon	
2001    4:26:37    7:17:27

2002 addendum: When the results first came out there were NO after cut-off times or people:-) In fact, a friend of mine was the one pulling the tags at the top and telling people they did not make it. He said he got no complaints and almost all of them said they would try harder next time. Very encouraging. However about 2 weeks later a new version of the results came out with the after cut-off people listed. The good news: no times were listed! The bad news: 81 of them - a new record!

    Average race times
Year    Ascent     Marathon	
2002    4:34:10    7:12:44

2005 addendum: For the 50th they gave out a finisher jacket. As the jacket was expensive (and it was called a “finisher” jacket) they only gave them to those who met all the cut-offs — including the top! In the results no after cut-off people were listed in any way, shape or form. Looks like this issue is now moot:-) And to that, what good timing! A nasty storm blew in and stranded 600+ runners on the summit. It could have been a lot more if people were allowed to keep going up for hours on end.

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