This story was saved from the August 12, 1998

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Gluttons for punishment to meet on Pikes Peak

Ascent, marathon always entice rugged contestants

By Angie Reese-Mudd/The Gazette

WHEN: The Pikes Peak Ascent (13.32 miles) is Saturday, with the first wave at 7 a.m. and the second at 7:30. The Pikes Peak Marathon (26.21 miles) is at 7 a.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Both races begin in Manitou Springs at El Paso Boulevard and Manitou Avenue. The Ascent finishes at the summit; the Marathon ends at Manitou and Ruxton avenues.

RECORDS: Ascent: Men - Matt Carpenter (2:01:06); Women - Lynn Bjorkland (2:33:31). Marathon: Men - Matt Carpenter (3:16:39); Women - Lynn Bjorkland (4:15.18).

Saturday's 17th Pikes Peak Ascent is a 13.32-mile race up the side of the mountain, climbing 7,815 feet. Sunday's 43rd Pikes Peak Marathon travels 26.21 miles, running the same course, and coming back down the mountain.

Both of these events are enough to scare the average runner, but according to the Triple Crown of Running, that hasn't been the case.

"I have turned away several hundred people," said Dave Zehrer, the race director and Triple Crown president.

"I send out the registration packets in October, and every year, it fills up a little earlier. This year, the races were full in May, and we had 600 registered combined for both races before the end of the year. We're still getting phone calls, even this week, from people who feel they have to get into either of the races. I hate telling them no, but we don't have a choice."

The Ascent, which has its first wave at 7a.m. and second wave at 7:30a.m., is limited to 1,800 runners, while the Pikes Peak Marathon, at 7a.m., is limited to 800.

While there are 23 foreign competitors - coming from as far as South Africa and Australia - there are 951 participants from the Colorado Springs area alone.

There are 34 people who have registered for both races, and while some will choose to do only one, Zehrer said there will be a handful of runners who will compete in both. He can't make any exceptions because the races are limited for two reasons - runner safety and environmental consideration.

"Safety-wise, it's too tough to provide medical and logistic support for more people than that," Zehrer said. "That really is the capacity limit on the (Barr) Trail, and we don't want to make it worse by not allowing enough medical services for those people who may need it. We don't need there to be any collisions between people going up and people coming down (for the marathon), and we already have enough falls.

"But we also have to submit a forest permit to hold the races, and we have promised not to exceed those numbers. It's great if nothing happens, but you just don't know about this place."

In addition to the El Paso Search and Rescue team, which will be set up along the course, there will be 700 volunteers throughout the weekend.

Colorado Springs Utilities has set up water stations, including an extra station that was added 1.65 miles into the course before the Barr Trail.

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