This story has been archived from the Monday, August 23, 2004

Marathon goes international


The Pikes Peak Marathon could become a regular stop for the Buff Skyrunner World Series, an international series of running races at high altitude.

“Everybody has heard about this race, it is world famous,” said Lauri Van Houten, spokesperson for the Skyrunner Series.

There will be some bugs to work out between the entities. The Skyrunners operate under a different set of rules. Marathon officials learned that lesson the hard way during Sunday’s race when Skyrunners cut corners on the course while descending from Pikes Peak’s summit. That practice is allowed in series races.

But the deal seems good for the marathon, which will be featured on European television this year, according to Van Houten.

“One thing we can guarantee is visibility in the European press,” she said.

With the series comes more competition and the chance for prize money, something the Pikes Peak Marathon has never been famous for.

Galen Burrell, the official marathon winner Sunday, said he would welcome competition from overseas.

“I think it was great to have international competition,” he said.

He still has it
Jeff Pierce, an original member of the 7-Eleven bicycling team that in 1986 became the first team from the United States to compete in the Tour de France, said the Pikes Peak Marathon is tougher than anything he has ever done.

This from a guy who has completed the world’s toughest bicycle race four times and the difficult Giro d’Italia three times.

“That was as hard as any stage I’ve done,” Pierce said at the finish line.

Pierce, 46, lives in Colorado Springs with his son, Logan, and girlfriend Joanne Kiesanowski, a road cyclist who he trains and who recently competed in the women’s Olympic road race.

The Pikes Peak Marathon was Pierce’s first attempt at the distance. He finished in 4 hours, 59 minutes, 51 seconds.

“I started running on trails, and it was cool, and one thing led to another, and I thought I’d do a marathon,” Pierce said. “I guess I started with the toughest one. But that’s OK because the Tour de France was my first pro cycling race.”

Weather problems
Rain, hail and lightning caused race officials to force runners in Saturday’s Pikes Peak Ascent to turn around at the A-Frame checkpoint, about three miles from the summit.

Race director Ron Ilgen made the call at noon, four hours after the second wave of runners had started in Manitou Springs.

About 183 runners turned back. The four-hour turnaround time was 30 minutes earlier than race officials had planned. Ilgen said he made the decision when search and rescue personnel warned him that a storm was approaching and lighting strikes were reported within six miles of the peak.

“I agonized over the decision, but I didn’t want to expose the runners or 130 volunteers and 40 more search and rescue people to that kind of weather,” Ilgen said.

Some runners were angry at the decision and claimed that there was no race personnel on the course to help them as they descended.

Ilgen said race vehicles were sent to the Barr Trail trailhead to help transport runners back to Manitou Springs.

“There weren’t any serious injuries, and everybody got off the mountain safely,” Ilgen said. “That is my main concern.”

Race record safe
Matt Carpenter’s overall records in the ascent and marathon were not challenged. He set them both in the 1993 marathon, climbing to the top of Pikes Peak in 2:01:06 before making the round trip in 3:16:39.

Carpenter did not compete this year, choosing to run the Leadville 100.


Copyright 2004, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Back to the Press Archives