This story has been archived from the

August 15, 2001

Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon The Pikes Peak Ascent is Saturday. The 13.32-mile race begins at City Hall in

Manitou Springs and ends at the summit. The first wave starts at 7 a.m., the second at 7:30 a.m.

The Pikes Peak Marathon is Sunday at 7 a.m. The 26.21-mile race begins at City Hall in Mantiou Springs, reaches the summit, and ends at Ruxton and Manitou avenues.

Contact information
Mark Fitzhenry may be reached at 636-0178 or markf @ gazette . com

Race officials hear the running of the bull

By Mark Fitzhenry/The Gazette

As race director for the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon, Dave Zehrer has heard just about every excuse, short of "My dog ate my registration form," for why a runner should be allowed to run on Pikes Peak.

My dad's dying of cancer.

I'm dying of cancer.

I'm having a family reunion and I promised them I'd run.

I'm an elite runner, so make room for me.

I'm here on vacation.

I'm here from Vermont, and I didn't realize the race was full.

All those reasons, and Zehrer has one answer.

Sorry. This race is full.

The Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon, two races held the third Saturday and Sunday of August, have been filled to capacity every year since the early 1990s, Zehrer said.

This year, the second wave of entries for the Ascent for slower runners closed March28. A week later, the first wave of the Ascent was filled. By mid-April, the Marathon filled its 800 spots. And on May9, all waiting lists were closed.

In the races' 46th year, they have reached peak popularity.

"People enjoy trail running," Zehrer said, "and they enjoy a challenge."

Here's the real challenge: trying to enter the races after the waiting lists have closed.

Tim Hearn has spent the past several months lobbying for his wife, Linda Hearn, to run the Ascent.

Linda Hearn broke the lower two vertebrae in her back in July1998. Doctors told her she wouldn't run again.

This year, she completed the first two races of the city's triple crown, which she last completed in 1997. The Ascent is the third leg.

But when she tried to register in early April, the lineup was full.

"I really thought there were still some openings," Linda Hearn said. "I begged and pleaded."

Since then, Tim Hearn has left his phone number at a area running store, called the hashers club, and placed ads in newspapers to see if anyone has dropped out and would let his wife take their place.

"I've tried every manipulatory management thing I can think of," Tim Hearn said. "It kind of ticks me off I can't get her in. I really would like to get her in and she deserves to get a chance to."

But Zehrer is limited to the number of runners allowed on the mountain. Working with the U.S. Forest Service, he registers 1,800 runners for the Ascent and 800 for the Marathon.

To avoid bogus runners registering and then selling their numbers for profit, Zehrer does not allow runners to transfer numbers.

Thus, the Hearns' quandary - not to mention a parade of excuses Zehrer hears annually.

"We turn away hundreds and hundreds," Zehrer said. "I hear every reason in the book why (a runner) is special. ... You call back and check on some of these and it's pretty bogus."

The race also does not make exceptions for elite runners, which has drawn criticism. Matt Carpenter, one of the world's top altitude runners, protested in 1999 by not participating.

Zehrer stands by his stance that all runners are welcome, provided they register quickly enough.

The Hearns didn't, which leaves them on the outside looking up - but still trying.

"The drill is, you can't get another person's number," Hearn said. "We don't care."

Copyright 1999-2001, The Gazette, a Freedom Communications, Inc. Company. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Back to the Press Archives