We run a 50k smack where I grew up. Cheyenne Canyon, here we come!
Race Report: Pikes Peak Ultra
This was a tough race. If you go by the numbers it is the most up and down per mile we have completed. It was certainly up there with the Dirty 30, and Bears Ears. What make this one hard was a combination of the weather and the relentless climb followed by the relentless downhill. Nothing but fun on this one.
You start the race in Bear Creek Park, located in southwest Colorado Springs. You climb for a ways and then drop downhill into the first aid station. So far so good. You then climb up the Cheyenne Canyon, making your way to aid station 2. At this point, you are starting to warm up, and the uphill is becoming noticeable, but manageable. So far so good. At some point between aid stations 1 and 2 you get wonderful views of Seven Falls. Add that to the list of highlights for sure.
The climb out of aid station 2 claimed many a victim. This climb is not only very steep, but it was also very hot at this point. There were various small creeks along the way. We stopped at each, dipping various body parts in the water. I soaked a kerchief, slopped it over my head, and then placed it around my neck. These respits from the heat helped, but it was still very hot and exposed. At one point, I flat-out laid down in a creek. That was delightful and really cooled my core. The heat was at this point manageable. The climbing becomes awful. It just keeps going up and up, and it is really very steep. You just creep up the hill. We saw a handful of folks simply up and quit … turning around to walk back to aid station 2.
The good news at this point – there is a break midway in the climb toward aid station 3, where it goes flat for a tiny bit. The bad news – the break is small and then there is more climbing to reach aid station 3. Having finally reached aid station 3, you are rewarded with …. more climbing. Holy smokes! It just never ends. But wait, there’s more.
Leaving aid station 3, there is a tad bit of downhill before turning back uphill. The climb here is not that steep. The problem is that you have been trudging uphill for hours and hours. Eventually, you hit a literal fork in the road. You turn right and traverse a flat section before making the final push uphill to summit Mt. Rosa. The views here are, of course, fantastic. We encountered one small problem at this point – the weather turned from scorching heat to cold accompanied by thunder, lightning, and hail.
For anyone growing up in Colorado, being on top of a hill during a lightning storm is an absolute no-no. No time to stand around; we had to beat it for lower ground. The hail was stinging but thankfully small and only lasted 20 minutes or so. The drop in temperature was appreciated, even if our fingers did start to go numb. The main difficulty was thundering downhill while skipping across wet rocks. The conditions thankfully improved as we moved into aid station 4.
From here it was just a “downhill cruise” to the finish. Many sections were steep and loose. The miles upon miles of downhill took its toll – even on Annie and me, who are excellent downhill runners.
What really got to me, was the return of the heat. By the time we made it to aid station 5, it was once again, very hot. You leave aid station 5, for a half-mile uphill stuggle-bus session. The heat soaks in and by the time we crested this hill, everyone looked pretty rough. Annie grabbed a new gear and took off. She left me and a couple of others in the dust as she powered through to the finish. I did my best to keep up, but I was just too hot. I stopped at a creek to cool down but did not do enough. I should have once again laid down and really cooled my core. Thinking I was closer to the finish than I was, I thought I could gut it out. While I did manage to stagger across the finish line, a few more minutes to cool down would have paid dividends. I was really in sorry shape at the finish.
This race was really near the edge of what we can accomplish as runners. Having DNF’d the Power of Four, it was interesting to go up against something that pushed us near that limit again. At the same time, this race was theoretically harder than the Dirty 30, but we ran this course faster. Maybe we are getting better at this and another attempt at the Power of Four is warranted. Time will tell.
Race Website: https://www.madmooseevents.com/pikes-peak-ultra
Lowest Point: 6,174 feet
Highest Point: 11,376 feet
Approximate Gain: 7,423 feet
Approximate Descent: 7,423 feet
Average Grade: 9%
Max Grade: 36%
Annie's Finishing Time: 9:14:34
Scott's Finishing Time: 9:26:18
View all race results by clicking here.