This story has been archived from the Sunday, August 17, 2008 Mankato Free Press - Minnesota
A long run in the Rockies
Local resident to run Pikes Peak Marathon
By Shane Frederick - Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO The staircase leading to the top of Good Counsel hill has 240 steps. Jim Wiese knows. Hes counted them several times.
The north-side resident and marathon runner will run up and down the steps eight or nine times during one of his training sessions.
While that might seem like a grueling workout, it doesnt begin to prepare him for the race he will run this morning in Colorado.
From what Ive read, Wiese said, its not a race for the weary. You cant go in under-trained.
By his estimation, the Pikes Peak Marathon will be Wieses 24th 26.2-mile race and his toughest.
You try to find that one race that tears you down until you break down, Wiese said. I havent found it yet, but Ill keep trying.
This might be the one.
The Pikes Peak Marathon is exactly what youd expect it to be. A 13-mile run up the mountain and a 13-mile run down.
My wife thinks Im nuts, Wiese, 46, said. My mom thinks Im nuts.
The description on the marathons official Web site doesnt necessarily dispel that theory.
Runners climb 10,000 feet in the races first 10 miles. Over the next three miles, they go up 2,000 feet but are above the tree line and in thin air where they average about 30 minutes per mile.
What little air remains cant satisfy the endless stream of zombies hoping to survive their next step, the Web site says. (Its) a death march right out of a scene from Dawn of the Dead.
When the race begins in Manitou Springs, Colo., its about 60 degrees. At the end of the race, its around 90 degrees at the bottom.
The top of the mountain is a different story. In 2004, runners were met with as much as eight inches of snow on the mountains peak. A year later, hundreds of them were stranded on the summit during a storm.
Wiese has run the Boston Marathon three times. This year, he completed Boston and Fargo and is also scheduled to run the Twin Cities Marathon in October.
I have a Bucket List of races I want to do, he said, and (Pikes Peak) is on it.
A year ago, Wiese thought he might be done running all together.
He had a ruptured disc in his neck and, while carrying a table over his head, smashed bones in his neck. He had surgery to fuse two of his vertebrae and also had a cage, bolts and pins installed in the reconstruction. Wieses doctor told him that the impact of running would be bad for his neck and that it might be best for him to stop.
But something bigger told him to keep running.
About the time I came to (out of surgery), Wiese said, was when the (35W) bridge came down. ... I just thought, Anythings possible. Even if I have to crawl, Ill do (another marathon).
Wiese said his neck has gotten better and better, even with the marathon training.
With 70s and 80s rock playing on his iPod, he runs the hills that surround Mankato, climbs the Good Counsel steps and works out on the treadmill at Anytime Fitness, trying to get in the best shape possible for todays race.
You get in that endorphin-junkie zone when you gotta have it, Wiese said. For me, thats what it is, a challenge. Right after youre done, on the finish line, you think, No more. Thats it. But the next day you wake up, and you gotta go again.
I guess some people like torture.