Overall Rating
Overall Rating (6 Reviews)
4.8
(6 Ratings)(6 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
5
SCENERY
4.8
PRODUCTION
4.5
SWAG
3.2
Because the Ascent and Marathon are so unique and so physically demanding when compared to other half-marathons or marathons, having a general understanding of the courses is the key to planning your training. The Ascent or ascent portion of the Marathon can take as long, or longer, than a full … MORE
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Recent reviews

    aronowp FIRST-TIMER '17

    Tough, tough race for an aging “flat lander” not acclimated to altitude, but super fun challenge. Not doing it again this year but thinking about returning in 2019. Truly an … MORE

    Tough, tough race for an aging “flat lander” not acclimated to altitude, but super fun challenge. Not doing it again this year but thinking about returning in 2019. Truly an iconic trail marathon that I will never forget.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    Tororuns FIRST-TIMER '86

    Ran up Pikes Peak with my dad and mom in 1986. My dad took off and left me and my mom. My mom later fell back. I reached the top … MORE

    Ran up Pikes Peak with my dad and mom in 1986. My dad took off and left me and my mom. My mom later fell back. I reached the top and was freezing and snowing. Waited for my mom then traveled by shuttle back to the bottom.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    1

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    erowings FIRST-TIMER '16

    I daydreamed about doing this up and back down the mountain marathon for years, even back when I wasn't a runner, and getting it done for the first time was … MORE

    I daydreamed about doing this up and back down the mountain marathon for years, even back when I wasn’t a runner, and getting it done for the first time was AWESOME! The slogan for the race on their website is America’s Ultimate Challenge, and though an argument can be made that there are many grueling and brutal ultras out there that are harder, that completing this race is no joke. The camaraderie amongst fellow runners was excellent, on the way up in particular, and I now see clearly why so many folks come back again and again to repeat it. There’s a certain element of esprit de corps involved with such a ridiculously uphill endeavor.

    I have much love and respect for all of the aid station and Search and Rescue volunteers at various elevations and remote locations on the way. It is truly a testament to organization and the volunteer spirit of the local running community.

    This may always be, for the rest of my life, the most beautiful race I ever participate in. If you’ve done it yourself you know what I mean. 10 stars for scenery.

    Word of warning to the future participant: I trained on steeply vertical trails for over 3 months to get this done – your own experience may be dramatically different if you do not have the kind of elevation or hills available to you where you’re from. Having said that, I met people from all over the country including sea level, so I know it’s possible.

    I’d love to share my lengthy blog article (so long in fact that I needed to do it in three chapters) about this run with you, and invite you to click and leave a comment, too. It’s over 5,000 words, so I kept this as brief as possible for that reason. I did drop a link to it into this review someplace…

    Oh, and when you get to the end there’s two really good pizza joints within a couple hundred yards of the finish line. Yes!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

    1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

    M_Sohaskey Sep 22, 2016 at 12:50am

    And don't forget the Colorado Custard Company in "downtown" Manitou Springs, owned by 12-time PP champ & course record holder Matt Carpenter! Congrats on conquering your bucket-list marathon Eric, I agree that climbing (and in your case descending) 7,815 vertical ft as fast as possible is an experience like no other. Now your next challenge... what do you do for a sequel? ;)

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    erowings Sep 22, 2016 at 7:09am

    I worked up the nerve to go talk to Matt, and I got a selfie with him too. His record may stand for many years to come. My next challenge is breathlessly enduring the wait to see if I got accepted for Boston Marathon registration!

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    I assume anyone looking to do this race understands the challenges involved - the race has 7800 feet of elevation gain in the first half followed by an equal amount … MORE

    I assume anyone looking to do this race understands the challenges involved – the race has 7800 feet of elevation gain in the first half followed by an equal amount of downhill in the second half – but if you’re prepared for it, it is totally worth it. The feeling of accomplishment crossing the finish line after being on the mountain for hours (upon hours, upon hours) is unforgettable! Be prepared for this race to take you about double that of a regular road marathon – but also be prepared for breathless views while running on an extremely well organized and well marked course with awesome aid stations full of volunteers willing to help assist and encourage you in any way they can. The swag in general is awesome, however my one and only complaint is that a race this size should have gender specific shirts!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '10

    BOTTOM LINE: No race name states its case more honestly or succinctly than the Pikes Peak Ascent. This is a terrific challenge for any trail runner, and a notch on … MORE

    BOTTOM LINE: No race name states its case more honestly or succinctly than the Pikes Peak Ascent. This is a terrific challenge for any trail runner, and a notch on your racing belt that will boost your personal “bad ass” rating in the eyes of both runners and non-runners. Pikes Peak holds two distinctions for me that 4+ years later have yet to be equalled: 1) my only half marathon of over 4 hours (a personal worst 4:08:52), and 2) the only event in which my stomach actually reversed gears (i.e. gave back to the mountain) after the race. I still wear both of these achievements as badges of honor.

    The Pikes Peak Ascent is a half marathon (actually 13.32 miles) that begins on the streets of Manitou Springs and gains 7,815 feet of elevation on the Barr Trail, en route to the finish line at 14,115 feet. And if one trip up the mountain on Saturday isn’t enough, you can register for the Pikes Peak “Double” in which you run the Marathon on Sunday as well.

    For middle-of-the-packers, after the first 1.5 miles on pavement the race becomes a caravan to the top on an oft-singletrack dirt trail. Despite this, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to maintain a fairly consistent pace until about mile 8, when I had to slow down for runners ahead of me. I’d been trying to maintain at least a slow jog to avoid walking, since once I stop running it becomes more and more difficult to start again, particularly on uphills. Passing can be awkward-to-impossible at times on the Barr Trail, but what you don’t want to do is pass another runner, only to slow down and have them leapfrog you once again. That’ll earn you some bad trail karma.

    According to the Pikes Peak Marathon website, air pressure is 43% less at the summit than at sea level. By mile 11 my red blood cells were betraying their sea-level origins, and my oxygen-deprived muscles had stopped buying what my brain was selling. Once above the treeline (~12,000 feet) my progress slowed to a crawl, and negotiating the “Golden Steps” (i.e. the large boulders blocking the trail in several places) felt like trying to scale the Great Wall. Case in point, my mile 12 clocked in at an impressively sluggish 26 minutes, 55 seconds.

    Once above the treeline I also paused to take pictures of the world spread out below, these pauses doubling as convenient excuses to rest. Runners trudging along like diligent, winded ants were visible on the trail above and below my vantage point.

    Luckily Mother Nature cooperated with partly cloudy skies all day, which made for pleasant running conditions aside from not being able to draw a deep breath in the last few miles.

    My brother and sister-in-law ran the Pikes Peak Marathon the day after I ran the Ascent, finishing in 7:29:52 and 9:55:13, respectively. Apparently my biggest mistake was stopping at the top… he claimed that as soon as he turned around and started his descent, he could feel more and more oxygen entering his lungs with each breath. Admittedly now, four years later, I’d love to go back and test my mettle in the full marathon.

    My only regret was that with my stomach in post-race turmoil, I opted not to test it with a “world famous” high-altitude donut from the summit café. Next time…

    PRODUCTION: The pre-race expo on Friday was held outdoors in a large tent and was comfortably low key, making it easy to pick up our registration materials and browse the sponsor booths in a short time. And despite the number of runners on the course on race day, only occasionally did the trail feel truly crowded.

    I carried my nutrition with me in liquid form and so didn’t take advantage of the aid stations, but they seemed to be well-stocked and well-appreciated by other runners. I also caught a glimpse of several watchful medical personnel along the way. Pikes Peak is not an easy assignment for volunteers – there are no elevators on the mountain, so many volunteers access their aid stations the same way the runners do. And yet there they were on race day, smiling away and – as far as I could tell and from what I heard – seemingly flawless in their execution. Long live race volunteers!

    SWAG: This included a standard white long-sleeve technical shirt with purple side panels (gold for the marathoners) that I still wear based on its most important attribute, the solitary number 14,115’ printed on the back; and a small, understated but perfectly acceptable medal.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

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    CSohaskey FIRST-TIMER '13

    This race is brutal. No matter what your pace this race is tough. The starting line is at already 6,345 and I live at sea level so I was already … MORE

    This race is brutal. No matter what your pace this race is tough. The starting line is at already 6,345 and I live at sea level so I was already a little winded before the race started. The halfway point is at the summit of Pike Peak at 14,115 ft where there is 43% less oxygen than sea level. The average grade is 11%.
    That said this is an amazing race. It starts in Manitou Springs Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The views are spectacular and this race is one you will not forget or stop talking about. Instead of the Star Spangled Banner at the starting line they placed America the Beautiful since Pike’s Peak was the inspiration for the purple mountains majesty.
    The first decision is what to carry. It can get cold and windy near the top so you want to dress warmly. But the weather can be warmer at the lower levels (88F on my race day). I wanted to carry enough to be prepared but at the same time, the first 13 miles are uphill and I didn’t want to carry any extra weight.
    The trail is in good condition up to the tree line at 12,000 ft. After that it gets a bit rocky. The last half mile to the top consists of the infamous 16 Golden Steps which is actually 32 switchback that involve stepping up onto large boulders. Then you turn around and do the whole thing again.
    The race was well run. The support stations were well run and although they were close in distance they were far apart time-wise because of my slow pace. On the negative side the shirt was low quality and is already falling apart. But this is still an amazing experience.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    1
    My Media

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  1. Races
  2. Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent