Friday, April 24, 2015

Team Colorado Welcomes Allie "Mac" McLaughlin (Yes, her Manitou Incline PR is faster than yours!)

Name: Allie "Mac" McLaughlin

Age: 24

Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO

Current residence: Colorado Springs, CO

Sponsors: Great Harvest Bread Co. (NOW SEEKING, if you are interested, please contact us!
2014 World Mtn Running Bronze Medalist
photo: Nancy Hobbs

Personal Bests: Manitou Incline - 20:07 (2010, Dang!), Indoor 3k - 9:22 (2010), XC 6k - 20:01 (2009), Pikes Peak Ascent - 2:33:42 (2014)

Notable Achievements: 2008 Colorado State XC 5A State Champion, 2009 NCAA XC All-American (5th place, 2nd ever best finish by a freshman behind Shalane Flanagan--2000), 2014 US Mountain Running Champion, 2014 Pikes Peak Ascent/WMRA World Long Distance Challenge Champion, 2014 World Mountain Running Bronze Medalist.

Goals for 2015 and beyond: I would really love to represent the US and race internationally
again as well as run a strong road half or 10k!

Favorite trails: Ute Valley, Greenland Open Space, and The Incline!

Favorite workout: I don't do workouts. Or I guess I just consider every run a workout?

(Don't let her size fool you, Allie also lifts weights, plays hockey, snowboards, wakeboards, swims, downhill mountain bikes, and humbles even the fastest of men!)

Favorite races: Nashville Rock n Roll Half, GoPro Vail Pass Half

Favorite beer: Vodka!

Instagram @alliemc3

Why Trail/Mountain/Ultra Running?: I love the technicality of trails and the places they take you!

"Struth!!!" says the large Australian. 2014 Pikes Peak Ascent.            photo:

Monday, April 6, 2015

Team Colorado Welcomes Sandi "The Riveter" Nypaver

Name: Sandi "The Riveter" Nypaver

Age: 26

Hometown: Parma Heights, OH

Current residence: Mecca of Trail Running, CO

Sponsors: Hammer Nutrition, Ultimate Direction, UGo Bars, and  Feetures!

Personal Bests (or Worsts):  I thought it was a good idea to run 100 miles without ever having run an ultra or trail race before and my sister agreed to pace me, so I ran it and ended up winning.

Notable Achievements:  I received the coveted Best Blood award while running Grindstone 100 in 2010. I still have a bump on my knee from a rock puncturing my skin.

Goals for 2015 and beyond: To perfect running like a dog (minus the running breaks to smell poop). They just love being outside running and are so happy to be running they don't even notice how challenging it is to run a steep uphill at altitude.

Favorite trails: Bear Trail in Ouray Colorado, but all the trails in the San Juans are pretty spectacular. I love Bear Canyon Trail in Boulder as well, so maybe I just like trails with the name Bear.

Favorite workout: The Quad Builder: 5 x 1/2 mile hill repeats with some shorter repeats after.

Favorite races: I Believe Trail Races, Mountain Masochist, Promise Land, and most likely a race I have yet to run. 

Favorite beer: It's Colorado, obviously no one here likes beer.

Why Trail/Mountain/Ultra Running?: Who wouldn't want to risk getting eaten by mountain lions, falling off cliffs, getting lost, getting caught in storms, puking their guts out at a race, or cause hours of self-induced pain? I'm pretty sure that's the definition of a good time. In all serious though, I just love running and being outdoors. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Barr Trail Mountain Race and The Pikes Peak Marathon Team Up

Triple Crown of Running adopts
Barr Trail Mountain Race

April 2, 2015

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - One of the top mountain runs in the west, the Barr Trail Mountain Race (BTMR), will merge with the Triple Crown of Running in 2015. The agreement will provide long term financial stability and proven race operations support for the BTMR, which is set to run for the 14th time on July 19.

“This is an obvious and natural fit between our two organizations, as both have provided many years of challenging and iconic mountain races,” said Ron Ilgen, president of Pikes Peak Marathon, Inc., which oversees the Triple Crown. “The synergies gained from a race organization perspective are many, but even more so for Pikes Peak runners.”

Team Colorado, a nonprofit organization of elite trail runners, inherited the management of the Barr Trail Mountain Race in 2014. Under the new agreement, Team Colorado will continue to produce the event, with team president Peter Maksimow serving as race director.

“Team Colorado is giddy with excitement with the merger of the Barr Trail Mountain Race and the Pikes Peak Marathon and the Triple Crown family of races,” Maksimow said. “The fit is perfect as these races share the same ideals, love of the sport, community and worldly following.”

The Barr Trail Mountain Race is capped at 400 entries and online registration opened today. Check for more information. Information about the Triple Crown of Running can be found at

The Barr Trail Mountain Race was started in 2000 by Matt Carpenter, the 12-time winner of the Pikes Peak Marathon, and Nancy Hobbs, a longtime race promoter who currently serves as the executive director of the American Trail Running Association. The event gained popularity as a training race for the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon, and as a fundraiser for area nonprofits, an objective that remains with the merger.

“There are many similarities to the BTMR and the Pikes Peak Marathon,” Ilgen said. “One of particular importance is that we share the same goal of giving back financially to organizations that support running.”

Runners will see an immediate benefit, as the overall men’s and women’s winners in BTMR will earn a comp entry into this year’s Pikes Peak races. And all who finish within the race’s 3-hour and 30-minute cutoff will qualify for entry into the 2016 Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. Future plans call for the creation of a new race series that would complement the Triple Crown, which currently includes the Garden of the Gods 10 Mile Run, the Summer Roundup Trail Run, and the Pikes Peak Ascent, or the ascent portion of the Pikes Peak Marathon.

Held on Barr Trail, one of the world’s most famous mountain race courses, the 12.6-mile BTMR starts on Ruxton Ave. in front of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway in Manitou Springs. From there, runners begin a tough 3,360-feet ascent to Barr Camp where they make the turn and charge back to Manitou Springs. Though the race is doable by any runner in reasonable condition, it is famous for burning the legs and lungs of those willing to push themselves.

“The first time I ran BTMR I couldn't walk normally for a week. It doesn't matter who you are, the mountain will make you hurt,” said Alex Nichols, 2013 BTMR winner.

The Barr Trail Mountain Race annually attracts some of the best trail runners in the country. Carpenter won multiple times, and Brandy Erholtz, a former two-time Pikes Peak Ascent champion and women’s overall record holder at BTMR (1:47:57), competes there nearly every year.

“I love the BTMR,” she said. “It’s a great excuse to train on Barr Trail for Pikes Peak. The aid stations are awesome, and if you do well, there is prize money! Not to mention you are in downtown Manitou Springs where you can get good grub, craft beer and soak in the river. Fun for the entire family!”

With more races and expanding opportunities for runners coming online each year, managing running races and maintaining participation numbers has become a challenge. Race organizers are convinced the merger will make for a sustainable BTMR.

“Now we can back up our pretty face with the brawn and prestige of the Pikes Peak Marathon and make sure that the legacy of the BTMR lives a long and healthy life,” Maksimow said. “We can't think of a better big brother to adopt us.”

2014 BTMR winners: Joe Gray, Colorado Springs, 1:29:43; Brandy Erholtz, Evergreen, 1:55:08
BTMR course records: Ryan Hafer, Colorado Springs, 2010, 1:29:05; Brandy Erholtz, 2010, 1:47:57
History: The Waldo Canyon Fire forced the cancelation of the 2012 race.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Max King To Join Team Colorado

Max has his hat, his assless chaps and he's headed to Colorado           photo: Max King

It's been a secret for a while but Team Colorado is excited to announce that the one, the only, Max "Silver Mullet" King will be moving to Colorado and joining Team Colorado! Max recently joined Team Salomon and is best know for his muscly physique, OCR skills--such as swinging from trees--oh yeah, and 2014 Road 100K World Champion. He is packing up the family wagon train and leaving Bend, OR, which he will miss greatly, to search for gold in the mountains of CO. Plus, he has already won so much prize money in Colorado that he feels like he has to give back to the state that has given him so much.

Max surrounded by 9 Team Coloradans as they smash the Mt. Washington Road Race Team Record in 2012. "I need to move there" he thinks!                                                 photo: The First Lady

Max is sad to leave but says, "I'm really excited to be picking up the whole family including a 2 and 5yr old and moving them to the high altitude of Colorado. It's as much for me as it is to get the kids introduced to high altitude early and start their mountain running career. I'd like Micah to become the youngest Pikes Peak Marathon Champion ever and Hazel to be the youngest person to ever complete the famous marathon next year. I think she's almost ready but just missing that specific high altitude training."
Maintenance and growth is the key!
photo: OutThereColorado

Team Colorado: What are you lacking? Do you think Colorado will get you to the next level?

Max: I'm getting to that point in my life where I need to start thinking about the next step in my training evolution and I really believe that Peter "The Prez" Maksimow can help me get there. His ability to grow and maintain facial hair is astounding. It's going to be a necessary piece of my training going forward, just look at the rest of the ultrarunning world. Everyone has facial hair, a lot of it too!

Atop Mt. Washington Rickey, Jared and Brandy take bets on when Max will move to Colorado, as he listens to Tommy explain "I just ran right by Max, I'm from Colorado, this is a speed bump compared to Colorado!" Jason from NC is getting as high as he can to gather the effects of  high altitude.  photo: Joe Viger  

TC: So, Max, this is a huge move for you! Why are you deciding to come to CO since you have had so much success in Bend? Is it the beer, are you coming to CO for the beer!?

Max: Yes, I've outgrown the sup-par beer of Central Oregon and it no longer is having a positive training affect. The watery macro beer of Colorado will allow me to get serious in my training and not be too tempted to drink it in larger quantities. 

Max spotted in Manitou Springs, CO getting tips from the golden boy, Alex "Axel" Nichols, and other Coloradans

TC: Inquiring minds want to know: how do you get so muscly? Is it all that OCR training?

Max: It has been a challenge to get to this level of running fitness, to say the least. I've recently begun a strict diet of a dozen eggs and a donut for three meals a day along with a CrossFit regimen that would make Stone Cold Steve Austin cry. I no longer believe that running produces fast times in races, it only leads to more injuries for me. 

Silver Mullet: Check. Muscles like Arnold: Check. Swinging skills of an Orangoutang: Check.

TC: Are you going to take a stab at Matt Carpenter's Pikes Peak Marathon record? Alex "Axel" Nichols said he won't let you beat him, he doesn't care how fast you have run in the steeplechase or 100K!

Max: Yes, but after developing my CrossFit mentality I no longer feel like it's a legitimate record to go after in the summer. When I arrive in Colorado I'll wait until winter to attempt the record using snowshoes. Plus, tree line on Pikes Peak starts where Mt. Hood ends!

TC: We heard you have done 100 X 400m on the track and pinned a race number directly on the skin of your chest….that sounds like Team Colorado material to us!!!

Max: I'm so happy to be welcomed as part of Team Colorado!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Team Colorado Welcomes Silke "Smooth" Koester

Name: Silke "Smooth" Koester

Age: 32

Hometown: Take a guess!

Current residence: Boulder, CO

Sponsors: Simple Hydration, Feetures Socks, CarboPro

Personal Bests (or Worsts): Personal worst: slipping on a slimy swamp boardwalk and landing on a nail in the middle of an unsupported point-to-point 50K race in the middle of nowhere Adirondacks. Personal best: Crossing the finish line of my first 100 mile race at Western States last year & earning that silver belt buckle.

Notable Achievements: Keeping up with my husband, Ryan, for the last 35 miles of both of his 100 mile races (and wins) last year.

Goals for 2015 and beyond: To run with curiosity, zeal and fearlessness. Like my dog.

Favorite trails: The ones that go uphill.

Favorite workout: Never-ending grinding uphills.

Favorite races: San Juan Solstice 50 for the unbelievably beautiful high mountain trails, and for the small town community enthusiasm and support. 

Favorite beer: A pitcher of FYIPA on Monday nights at Boulder’s Southern Sun Brewery with the Rocky Mountain Runners, and a Negra Modelo on my deck on a hot summer day.


Why/Trail/Mountain/Ultra Running?: Because I get beaten by women 20+ years older than me.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Michele "Bomb 'chele" Yates on Pregnancy, Life and having a Big Belly

Team Colorado's exclusive interview with the very ripe Michele Yates! Maybe past her due date now, actually!

How the time does fly! It seems like just yesterday that Michele "Bomb 'chele" Yates was crushing the most prominent ultra races and earning some people's yearly income in just a few races. Well, in the past 40 weeks she has been cultivating the next great ultra runner in her belly and we talked to her about it!

Team Colorado: Hi Michele, we hear you are almost ready to take a load off! How soon!? Do you know the gender or do you and Wyatt want to be surprised?

Michele: As of today, November 30th, no baby yet...but it seems as if I have entered the early labor stages this morning. I am 40 weeks this week so it makes sense :) It is a mini-me!!!.. We are having a girl and her name is to be Maya Jo.

Team Colorado: Talking about women issues, there are a lot of stories of eating disorders in our sport and it's not just females, although, most of what we hear about tends to be female-related.  Have you seen this in the sport?  

Michele: Does it exist in our sport, yes. But, it's something I can't be for sure about or judge on necessarily because I don't want to make assumptions about people. I will say that you won't make it too far or too long if you don't take care of yourself- ESPECIALLY in the ultra world. You can still be lean AND HEALTHY!!!

Team Colorado: Your were Miss Figure Colorado in 2008 (bodybuilding, is that the proper term?). How was it to go from one extreme (bodybuilding, where one needs to gain weight to build muscle) to the other (running, where it is ideal to be slender and lean)?

Michele: I was Ms. Figure Colorado 2008. It's not actually body building (but that sport is very political and not very structured in terms of what exactly they are looking for between a figure competitor and body builder-meaning sometimes they score high for those women who should clearly be in the body building category and other times they look for a softer appearance). For me, I didn't actually change too much at first and still found success. There was only a short period of time where I was adding in more calories and an extra set of my strength training in order to compete in that world. Soon after, I realized this was not nearly as gratifying as running and my heart was not there. It was fun while it lasted. :)

Team Colorado: You ran a trail marathon (and placed second, we might add!) at 5 months pregnant and a 100K at 4 months. Do you think this amount of running could be harmful to you or your fetus? How do you decide what to do and what not to do when it comes to exerting yourself?

Michele: Yes I did, however, with the encouragement of my doctors and wisdom of my own body. There are certain warning signs (whether your running or not) that you need to be aware of in order not to hurt the fetus. YOU ALWAYS PUT THE FETUS FIRST AND AT ANY TIME IF YOU EVEN QUESTION THE SITUATION, THEN STOP. There is no shame in doing what YOU normally do while pregnant, but be aware that YOU WILL need to modify as you go. If you keep these things in mind, then both yourself and the baby should be fine. A few of the things you need to monitor, high body temperature, hydration, pain or discomfort in your abdomen..

Team Colorado: As women are still not equally paid for the same work in our society, our sport is also not at the point it should be for gender equality. For example, only 4 women compared to 6 men make the US Mountain Running Team to compete at the World Mountain Running Championships. How ridiculous is that? Does this make you angry!? Do you want to kick someone in the nuts!?!? (Pun intended)

Michele: I think in this modern world it is sad that we (as women) are not treated equally. How hard is it to make it 5 and 5? Why do sponsors feel men should get more or better sponsorships than women? Do they feel their social media following and promoting tactics are better? Is that proven? Maybe they know something I don't know...but perhaps these are questions for the companies and organizations not me :) I can't let it anger me because that doesn't do anyone any good and is not productive. I'd rather chick all the guys next year and see what the companies/organizations have to say!

Team Colorado: A wise woman once said, "giving birth is like legal doping." What changes do you think your body will go through after birth? We are sure giving birth is extremely difficult on the body (but, then again, so is a 100 mile race), how will you plan your comeback?

Michele: My come back... totally depends on how the birth goes. If it's a vaginal clean birth (no tearing), no c-section... then (although I'm not in a huge hurry), I plan to start with some cardio cross training (walking, recumbent bike, etc) after at least one week totally off. From there...after about a month, I plan to start including some running. Once I feel really, good...well I'll be hitting it hard again and trying to build up volume for my "test" race- Black Canyon 100k mid February with my "A" race being Indiana Trail 100. I have big hopes and lofty goals for the next few years, again it just depends on how my body responds to birth and the labor process. Your body does have extra hormones, blood vessels etc that are produced from labor, but the one thing I think that will top all of that for me is passion I have just to be bombing those downhills on the trail again!

Team Colorado: Tell us about this crazy idea you have been involved in which includes racing 200 miles.

Michele: Myself, Wyatt (my hubby), and Charles Johnston started a friendship at one of my previous races and got to talking about creating a 200 mile race. It has been a goal of mine to do (eventually), and Wyatt and Charles took the idea and ran with it. Wyatt and I spent the summer camping and hiking some awesome Colorado Trails in the Gunnison area. Although not without challenges, we finally were able to create our 200 mile course and get a verbal permit for 100 runners. You can check out more on our website we can promise you that you won't be disappointed! It was created "Michele Yates style"- so no trekking poles allowed, pacers only for safety, and nothing but new, technical, and various terrain trails along the way!

Team Colorado: Will "running" 200 miles be more of a race of fueling rather than one of running?

Michele: I will let you know when I do it :) But just like a hundo- nutrition/fuel will be of utmost importance. You won't have chance in hell if you don't address that early on and throughout no matter what shape you are in. The course has over 40,000 feet of elevation change so one can expect some running, sleeping, and hiking. 

Team Colorado: We know you love to dance, in closing dance us your best baby belly dance (don't worry, no one will see you)!

Michele: I will be sure to include some baby belly shots!!!.. But as far as the dance goes, I promise I will do a belly victory dance when I achieve my goal of breaking the 100 mile World Record in the next few years ;)

We wish you all the best and we look forward to meeting the newest addition to Team Colorado!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The State of The Pikes Peak Ascent: The Prez's Speech

I am slow.

I can’t help it, it’s just the way I am.

                Wacker (169) eyeing Gute (3)...wins stink-eye contest!                                 photo:

But let us disregard my punctuality on race write-ups and talk about running uphill with some of the top mountain runners in the world, shall we?

The 2014 Pikes Peak Ascent doubled at the WMRA World Long Course Challenge and 20 countries were represented, making it an Olympic-atmosphere feel full of colorful kits and comical communication barriers. My race preparation consisted of spending the week in Detroit--don’t ask, I’m trying to forget about that part of my training. Upon my return to Manitou Springs, my legs felt like pixy sticks from running along the river with a nice southern view of Canada (yes, southern!) and my head felt like it had been punched by the very large fist statue of Joe Louis himself.

That's a big fist, Joe!

I arrived back in time for the pre-race press conference, which was chocked full of foreign athletes, which race MC, Bart Yasso, taunted in the nicest of ways and attempted to get all the English he could out of them. It’s the American way: making people feel uncomfortable in the most comfortable way possible.

Wacker, not just a name...nor a pretty face
Now, I didn’t have the weight on my shoulders that I potentially could have had. I thought I had a good shot at being part of Team USA after have some really good results in qualifying races but was eventually not selected. I’m often the bridesmaid and not the bride, but at least I am in the wedding party! Plus, I had Team Inov-8 and Team Colorado to represent, not to mention Team Manitou Brewing Company, which had the best post-race prizes for me no matter how I finished. It was very encouraging to have some of the Team USA members make me feel like I was part of the team with supportive comments, kind words and a good ol’ ‘merican slap on the ass. Andy Wacker gives the best ass wacks, hence the name. And that Shannon Payne, yeah, her slaps hurt pretty bad! Again, hence the name.

The grandioseness of the weekend did not set in until I began to see all the uniforms: South Africa, Wales (just one), Eritrea (it looked like a 2:10 marathon uniform, and it was worn by four-time WMRA Long Course runner up and 2012 & 2013 WMRA Grand Prix Champ, Azerya Teklay), Ukraine, Italia (that’s how they spell it on their jersey), Norway, Slovenia, Mexico, Australia, Germany, Japan (another solo), Romania (the Romantic Romanian Runner Ionut Zinca) and many more. Even Kansas! I finally met fellow Inov-8 teammate and obstacle racer-extraordinaire, Cody Moat—it’s difficult to miss a bright red jersey with a foot as an 8 on it. I searched for another Inov-8 team member, friend and all-around good guy, Scott Dunlap, but he was somewhere gathering his strength for the Ascent/Marathon Double and knew that he had to partake in our now-traditional celebratory beer on the Peak after the race. Team Colorado was well represented with Stevie "Sunshine" Kremer, Brandy "Mile-A-Minute" Erholtz, Donna "Gar-Gute" Garcia, Amy "Chef l'équipe" Perez, Simon "Gute" Gutierrez, Sage "The Rage" Canaday, Neil "Big McD" McDonagh, and myself, Le Prez, as they say in France.

A few Team Coloradans under the lined and one circle-spangled banners. 
Quick! Look right!
The start line looked intimidating with all the cleanly shaven legs (except for Team USA’s Zach Miller, you need to join the club, Zach!) and intense looks. My ego wouldn’t fit on the front line, so it was pushed back to the second row of the start line. It was, by far, the most competitive race the Pikes Peak Ascent has ever assembled, but I knew that the race was not won in the first mile so I had to run smart and know if I did I would deserve that beer at the top.

Zach: refusing to join the club. Wacker: doing his best chicken leg impression.         photo: Eddie Metro

The starting cannon detonated and either gave you an additional shot of adrenaline or stopped your heart momentarily. I did not fall down so I guess I received the former. There goes fellow Team Coloradan and 3 X Ascent Champion, Simon “Gute” Gutierrez, to the front in his patented lead-out sprint. Oh, what’s this!? The guy with the freshly shorn legs and pretty hair, Andy Wacker, goes by Gute at an even faster cadence. It is times like these that I wish auctioneers would commentate on races in the lead vehicle. Now that would be entertainment!

Watch that elbow!                                       photo:
The lead pack is three times the size it usually is during the Ascent and I felt like I was in a swarm of bees that had just had their hive kicked, buzzing and eager, almost angry. Apparently, I was eager, too, because a 6-flat first mile on the road climb to the Barr Trailhead can lead to the death sentence in this race. Oh well, can’t take that back now!

The next section, the Ws, is one of the toughest sections of the race, in my opinion, with its long and steep switchbacks that appear as Ws on an aerial map. It seemed I wasn’t moving fast enough because the entire Italian contingent went by me in a matter of about 10 seconds, each one saying “sorry” to me as they passed. They were so nice in their competitiveness. I think the English translation would have been, “get out of my way you American with a fairly decent mustache!” Next a Mexican went by me, then others that I didn’t recognize because all I witnessed was their asses. That’s what happens with steep grades, you get right on someone’s shoulder but really you are face to ass with them.

Brandy talks as fast as she runs!         photo:
I had a short chat with the Scottish-Coloradan, Ryan Smith (first UK finisher--Scotland is still part of the UK, you know!--living in Colorado has done him well.). He was thoroughly impressed with how loud I was belching 2 miles into the race. We did a great job of entertaining ourselves amid the misery of the climb…and it had just begun. As the saying goes, misery loves company…and it does!

After the Ws did a good job of stringing out the field, I found my self running with Thomas Cornthwaite of England. I only understood half of what he said with his thick accent, but I appreciated every word as it took my mind off the hard uphill grind. We fed off each other like a proper English breakfast and pushed the pace when it began to slow. Every time I went by him it was, “You look crackers!” or “Bloody Good, mate!” My encouragement was usually a slap on the ass and some American words that he hopefully couldn’t understand…just so we could be on the same page. It was working! We were gradually catching and passing runners who had underestimated what wrath the mountain could impose.

Zach Miller likes to chomp bananas!
We caught and passed an Italian, an American, some more runners, then Gute just before Barr Camp. His race strategy was to go out hard the first half and bank some time for the second half. This is where I told myself the race was to begin, even though I had already had almost 70 minutes of hard racing and jockeying for position, I had to convince myself this is where it started. We acquired Gute in our train to the Peak and continued to catch the carnage on the trail like Pac Man chomps up fruit.

The next couple of miles was like purgatory, it had to be done to breach treeline and face the most difficult section of the course, A-Frame to the summit (3 miles) aka the surface of the moon, where you are either struggling or have already turned into a zombie. We spotted more runners up ahead! As Thomas and I approached, he stated who the runner was (Emanuele Manzi of Italy) and excitedly exclaimed “Maaaanzi, gooud runnah!” (That’s the best New Castle accent I can hope to impart in written word). I knew the field was world class and everyone we came in contact with now held an impressive resume, so I seemed to be acquiring 1UPs with every person I passed. One more person and I would have the ability to throw fireballs! Well, I already had so much red on I looked like I was on fire: racecar red Inov-8 jersey and hat, razzel red Swiftwick Aspire 4 socks and the new rad red, ectoplasm green and black TrailRoc 245 (next season’s color, keep an eye out, you can’t miss them…they're bright!).

Gute and Gar-Gute, a couple of youngster!   photo: Gar-Gute
I came up on Ionut Zinca, the Romantic from Romania, who placed 3rd at last year’s WMRA Long Course Challenge, and we exchanged a few words before he accelerated off ahead at such a difficult point in the race to do so. This explains why he was 3rd last year! I felt good, I had trained for this and I was racing to plan. How many more pieces of fruit could this Pac Man get? I looked down the switchbacks and saw friend and recent training partner Marco Sturm of Germany running well and making up ground. Gute was still right there, don’t ever count him out even though he is almost 50. Where did Thomas go, he was just right with me!? Marco’s high altitude prowess was due to his month of training and living on Pikes Peak before the race. After seeing him up on the Peak every time I was up there we got together for runs, found him Team Colorado housing in Manitou Springs and he even defected to the Colorado! (Not really, but he is still staying in Manitou Springs as of early September.)

Marco Sturm: elite mountain runner, cat sitter.
Stevie "Sunshine" Kremer shows that mountain who's boss!   photo:
Neil, exorcizing the demons!         photo:
2 miles to go and close ahead I could see Zinca passing a pair of runners. I followed suit and decided I needed to do the same. It was Amed from Mexico and Mei from Italy. I had no idea what place I was in at this point. I could have been anywhere from 7th to 15th from my rough calculation, but the brain doesn’t really function properly at 13,000 ft. My brain did know to run as hard as I could with as little oxygen as was available. And so I ran on…

1 mile to go. I couldn’t tell who the black singlet belonged to until I passed him, Stefan Hubert, Germany’s top runner.The front side of the German uniform is red, that's a sneaky trick! One foot in front of the other, the senses are getting blurred now. Struggling runners. I am struggling, but I am still passing them. How!?!? With a half mile to go, you encounter the crippling rock scramble which is lovingly referred to as the 16 Golden Stairs. As the name indicates, 16 tightly weaved switchbacks over boulders make 15 meters seem like 800. For lack of better terms, a real kick in the balls! Zinca is slowing to a crawl, am I really going to pass him!? I hear someone yell “10th place!” Are they referring to me or someone else? Halfway through the stairs Zinca willingly moves over and allows me to crawl by. BluhBluhBluup--1UP! I needed that extra life!

Within a half mile of the finish, I am energized again by a red, white and blue-clad superhero perched on a precipice, waving an American flag, mullet flowing in the breeze and muscles rippling in the vacant-atmosphere sunlight. Could it be!? Captain ‘merica!? He vaguely resembled my Team Colorado teammate, Brandon Stapanowich. This put a smile on my misery-stricken face for the first time in 2 hours and 20 minutes. I still couldn’t let up since Zinca was hot on my tail. I knew the last two minutes of the race are among the most painful I would experience in life and at any second I expected the Romanian to push past me, offer me a romantic gesture and say, “Sorry!”

Zinca trying to catch me to say sorry
Last turn! Don’t catch your toe on that boulder! Don’t fall over! No “Sorry” was whispered from behind and I cross the line to a congratulatory high-five from race director, Ron Ilgen, and all of a sudden the world is audible again. I placed 9th overall in 2:21:11, a 5:28 personal record on the mountain, along with being 6th American and behind only two Italians and one Eritrean. I was interviewed by the local newspaper the previous week, The Colorado Springs Gazette, and was asked what I thought my chances were of winning the race. “Top 20 would be amazing, top 10 would double amazing, winning would make me famous pretty quickly,” was my response. Silly questions solicit silly answers. In previous years, my time would have made me famous pretty quickly, but I was extremely happy with “double amazing.” My “double amazing” time this year would have “made me famous pretty quickly” in a few past years. Just to display how competitive the race was, 23 males broke 2:30 and 16 women broke 3:00, while only 3 men and 4 women broke those respective barriers in 2013. Women’s winner, Allie McLaughlin, ran the 3rd fastest women’s time in race history. 4th place finisher from last year’s Ascent, David McKay, was 22nd this year…and that is even with a faster time! Holy Schiße, as they say in Germany! 

Holding hands with RD Ron Ilgen at the finish, and Nora, the First Lady quick to hold me up so I don't fall over.

I was very proud to be part of it.

I would like to congratulate all of the participants--winners as well as those whose goal was just to reach to finish in under the cutoff time. To the US men’s and women’s team for both capturing the individual and team gold medals (Individuals: Team Coloradan Sage Canaday and Colorado Springs native Allie McLaughlin; Women's Team: Allie McLaughlin, Morgan Arritola, Shannon Payne, Stevie Kremer, Nuta Olaru; Men's Team: Sage Canaday, Andy Wacker, Eric Blake, Joe Gray and Zach Miller). Thanks to those on the US Team for making me feel like I was part of the team, even thought I was not. After all, the slogan for Pikes Peak is “America’s Mountain.” Alanis Morissette would say “isn't it ironic…don’t you think?” I would say "it's coincidence" because, after all, it is in America.

There is an "US" in Team USA! Congrats on the gold medal Sage Canaday, Andy Wacker, Eric Blake, Joe Gray and Zach Miller.                                                                 photo: The Prez

The best part of the event, and reason why I love the sport so much, is celebrating with the amazing people after the hard effort is over. In this case, we had the Team World Pool Party at a little watering hole called La Piscina (thanks Brandon, how do you always seem to miss your own party!?), where 50+ people from all over the world turned it into the “Official (Unofficial) Post Race Party.” Because, in the long run, becoming famous is not all that important…but it definitely does help your popularity at the after party!

Team World Pool Party! Amy Perez (not pictured) taking picture.

There's Amy! This is equivalent of being photoshopped into the above photo.  
photo: Not Amy this time but, you guessed it,

The smallest and largest participant at the Pikes Peak Ascent. Allie McLaughlin would have been very popular if she had been at the after party.   photo:

There's Thomas Cornthwaite! Bloody thumbs up, mate!        photo: