Zebulon Pike never made it to the top of his eponymous Pikes Peak, the easternmost 14.000 foot mountain in America and a navigation beacon to the heartland still today.
But thousands of runners just as hearty as Zebulon made it to the top over the past two days in the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon -- and in under 10 hours, albeit in shoes Zeb might not have fancied.
"Hearty" is the feeling in authentically quaint Manitou Springs, perched at an elevation of 6300 feet into the canyons at the base of Pikes Peak -- 7815 vertical feet below the summit of the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. The Manitou Springers are real Coloradans living a real Colorado life. For example, sometimes it rains.
Good thing the mineral water is free. There are over a dozen pure, drinkable mineral springs all throughout Manitou Springs, built into attractions where people can fill and re-fill their water bottles gratis.
As we reported in our last post from Pikes Peak, its 14,115 foot summit is accessible without crampons. One way up is the Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog railway, which is a simple, albeit narrated, route to the top.
Over 2500 hearty runners -- not a fat slob in sight -- qualified for coveted spots in Saturday's Pikes Peak Ascent, a half marathon from Manitou Springs to the summit of Pikes Peak, and Sunday's Pikes Peak Marathon, which is the same course as the Ascent but where runners turn around at the summit and plunge back down into Manitou Springs. The Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon are "America's Ultimate Challenge" (assuming this weekend's Leadville 100 is too preposterous to count....) Here is the happy scene at the start of the Ascent.
The Ascent rises an astonishing 7815 vertical feet in 13.32 miles, with its apex at the summit of Pikes Peak at a breathtaking 14,115 feet. At 14,115 feet, oxygen is scarce and no one can hear you scream.
The Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon are impressively well organized and managed events. Seattle Seahawks american football coach Pete Carroll lookalike Ron Ilgen is the race director. Mr. Ilgen and his entire staff are to be commended for the amazing job of coordinating and comforting runners all along the steep and roadless Barr Trail.
Pikes Peak -- it's more than a 6000 foot drop!