Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Team Colorado's movin' on up...and down! Part Deux

A preview to the 2013 Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon - THE MEN
Rickey attempting the "pull my finger" trick at the start of the 2012 PPA
Team Colorado members L to R: Sage Canaday, The Prez, Gute, Rickey Gates, Kim Dobson, Tommy Manning

Pikes Peak High-Altitude Mile Chumps

With the Inaugural Pikes Peak High-Altitude Mile in the books and the title of Drago (or McDrago) awarded to Big McD for edging out Axel by only three seconds, we turn our attention this weekend and the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. 

Simon "Gute" Gutierrez and Neil “Big McD” McDonagh will toe the line of the 58th running of the Pikes Peak Ascent, a 13.32 mile jaunt up 7,815 feet to the top of Pikes Peak, 14,115 feet above the sea!

Gute, without question, has the experience and speed to land himself a top spot this weekend. 2013 will mark his 8th start with 7 finishes under the waistband of his running shorts, all top 10, THREE wins and a 2:13:29 PR, this guy’s has figured out how to defy gravity, or age, perhaps! 

Gute likes it fast
We tried to catch up with Gute on the Peak this weekend but he was too fast so we hijacked his car and forced him to drive us down the road. After getting pulled over (he drives as fast as he runs) Gute shared some thoughts on the weekend:

“I am going into the race with a smile and eager to run a strong up front "Gute" style race. (Translation: I’m going to run really, really fast, especially in the first a 5:25, don't tempt me!). Life is good, my heart is happy (no irregular heartbeats) and I am so excited to race with some of the best Ascent runners in the USA. My training has gone great. In July, I ran more miles than I have since 2008. I may even have some real racing flats from HOKA (so the Prez will stop calling them ‘fat shoes’), so that has got to help speed things's time to fly! Once I reach the summit, I'm heading back down the trail to cheer on all the wonderful people I know coming up, up up....” 

You had better bring some warm clothes, Gute…you are going to be up on that peak before some racers crack their first gel! 

Big McD was making some “JAM! That’s Good” jam for the team (boy, are we anxiously awaiting the delivery), so we fed Cricket McDonagh treats until she spilled the dirt on McD’s training. 

Cricket says "put me down you bastard, I'm not an insect!"
Team Colorado: Cricket, what are your expectations of Big McD this year?

CRICKET: I wake the brown haired man at 4:00 am every day and he feeds me breakfast. I expect to do that on Saturday.

TC: Any changes since Big McD’s been training for the Ascent?

CRICKET: I also bark at the brown haired man to feed me dinner at 5 pm every night. That has not changed.

TC: Cricket, what is your prediction for the Ascent?

CRICKET: The brown haired man better not be late with my dinner on Saturday.

Well, she was not helpful at all, not sure what we expected of a beagle.
"Expect this" cricket replys

Big McD will be at the front of the starting line at 7am on Saturday with 2,000 of his newest best friends for his first attempt at the Ascent. Living on Ruxton Ave., McD is no stranger to Barr Trail, Manitou traffic and the early morning chatter of runners heading up to the trailhead. He says “the scene on Ruxton lately is busy with folks doing fitness-y things. Tourists on the street often ask me how far it is to the summit, so I alternate between ‘2 miles or 35 miles one way.’ People are obviously prepping for the Pikes Peak Marathon weekend judging by the increased amounts of loud shouts of the F-word I hear early every morning from my bedroom window.”  Big McD predicts crossing the finish line in 2 hours and 30 minutes…we are suspect. 

…where’s our jam?!

BIG BOY PANTS! The Pikes Peak Marathon

Axel giving Max King a slap on the ass and a "Way to go kid!" as he passes him in 2012

Alex “Axel” Nichols and Peter “The Prez” Maksimow believe what goes up, must come down. Or at least that is what they are trying to convince themselves this week. The 26.21 mile trek starts at 7am on Sunday and will head to the top of Pikes Peak and then back down… ~15,630 feet of elevation change. 

This will be Axel’s second attempt at this distance (after five top 10 finishes in the Ascent) and the pressure is on. Taking second to Killian Jornet, the fearless and terrifically talented Spaniard last year, Axel is fit, healthy and looking faster than ever (we think the Inov-8 headband is the secret). We trapped Axel at Front Range BBQ, fed him a few of their fancy beers on tap and a full rack of ribs, and asked him about the upcoming weekend…

TC: Other than being in your backyard, why Pikes Peak?

AXEL: I keep coming back because Pikes is a big, bad mountain that can make or break you without a second thought. This year I expect a deep desire to stop running by the time I hit A-frame, just like every other year. My training has been a steady rotation of training really hard for a short period, resting for a few days, racing, and starting it all over again. In the past I've had a much more detailed training schedule for the summer but this year's tight race schedule seems to be working somehow. So, after Pikes I plan on getting in more training as soon as I can walk to get ready for the Mountain Running World Championships in Poland. Plus, Pikes has an amazing effect on my hair, it makes it look so beautiful!

TC: What is your most and least favorite part of the race?

AXEL: My least favorite part is definitely the section between Barr camp and tree line, it seems to last forever. But then my favorite part is finally getting out of the trees and hitting the flatter sections in the 3rd to last mile.

In case there isn’t already enough pressure on Axel, a new challenge was levied this weekend (I’m sure he’s terrified). Axel will try to beat TC’s Chef d’equipe, Amy Perez’s Ascent time in the marathon! We can only hope Amy makes this a true challenge. Axel’s predict is 3:38 for the round trip. Amy’s is 3:40 for the one way trek to the top! Ridonkulous!

Last but FAR from least (or close to it, depending on how you word it), Peter “The Prez” Maksimow, like most of Team Colorado competing this weekend, is no stranger to this mountain. With four top 10 finishes at the Ascent and a 2:26:39 PR, it’s safe to say The Prez is very comfortable with the uphill. Unlike year’s past, Peter will not be able to cross the finish line, find a cold beer and sit atop waiting on his friends to finish. Instead he will grab some water, head through the turn around and bound 13 miles back down to town, hopefully finishing in one piece.
"Yeahhh, I have a beer...and no pants!"
Or he may just do this...

TC: So, how do you feel about not stopping at the top like you have the previous 4 attempts?

PREZ: Well, you are wrong about one thing, it will not be water that I grab at the top, it will, in fact, be a cold beer--not that Ultra crap, either. I can’t stray from tradition. It should also make the run back down the mountain more bearable. I have never experienced the descent in a race situation and am not particularly looking forward to it, but it is part of the race and I must abide by the course. I wish I had a personal Killian Jornet. I would put a saddle on him (he would look so cute!) and I would ride him down the mountain!

TC: You have run only the Ascent in the past, why did you decided to take a stab at the Marathon this year?

The Prez's face was being eaten by something in this photo
PREZ: I don’t know what I was thinking! Bad life decision, I guess. Well, bad decisions and because it is the USATF Trail Marathon National Championships. Ok, that, and to see Axel’s flowing golden locks as he passes me on his way down. Back when I registered, I expected to be healthy, which is not the case now so I will run because I don’t want the past three weeks of training to be for nothing. Just as important as the race itself is the atmosphere surrounding the weekend and the amazing people that are involved. It is a huge celebration, just with a couple of races thrown in there. Oh, how I wish there was a Pikes Peak Beer Marathon this weekend. I might have a chance at winning that!

TC: Any predictions?

PREZ: Yes. I can guarantee you that my legs will be the sorest they have ever been and I will be walking like a cowboy afterwards, there will be beer a’flowin’ this weekend and the LA Raiders will win the World Series!

Good luck to everyone racing on the Peak this weekend and our friends at the Leadville 100 and the TransRockies Run. Fingers crossed for some good weather too…if for no other reason than Manitou Springs residents deserve a break*! 

*Due to recent flash flood damage in Manitou Springs, changes have been made to the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon, however, the show will go on...with some changes. Spend as much money as you can in Manitou Springs...Matt Carpenter thanks you!


  1. See you this weekend boys! :) Prez, are smart. What's the point of going up if you can't hammer down?! It's the best part in my opinion!!!

  2. See you there with bells on! Did we mention that we are all carrying cowbells for good measure? Smart is a relative term, the beer at the top will help me get smarter!

  3. Is Randall running the Ascent? Saw his name listed. Wish everyone well this weekend! I'll be running Saturday & marshaling for the marathon Sunday