This story has been archived from the Sunday, August 20, 2006

Pikes Peak Ascent Notes



The first wave of Pikes Peak Ascent runners headed down Manitou Avenue at the start of Saturday’s race. Of the approximately 1,800 registrants, 1,085 men and and 550 women finished.

Ecuadorian fast to finish, slow to register

Silvio Guerra is no ordinary gate-crasher when it comes to the Pikes Peak Ascent.

Guerra is a three-time Olympian for Ecuador. As a “bandit,” or unofficial entry, he crossed the finish line atop 14,115-foot Pikes Peak in first place Saturday, with a time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 4 seconds — more than three minutes faster than Simon Gutierrez’s official winning mark, but his time didn’t count because he did not enter the race.

Race organizers said Guerra showed up the morning of the Ascent to enter and was denied a race number. Only past champions are allowed to show up on race day to enter. Slots are saved, however, for elite runners in a race that filled up in less than 10 hours this year for the general public. Those slots are usually finalized a couple of weeks before the Ascent and Marathon.

Eleven-time Pikes Peak winner Matt Carpenter has clashed with race organizers about easing their strict policy toward elite runners. But he has little sympathy for Guerra in this case.

“To just show up like this is just dumb,” Carpenter said. “Because it puts an asterisks next to everyone else’s results. That’s just weak. . . . That’s infuriating. You still have to be able to put your ducks in a row” and enter on time.

“This exactly isn’t what I’m fighting for.”

The race was part of the World Mountain Running Association’s Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge. Guerra said he tried to enter the Ascent through his sister in Boulder two weeks earlier, but she said she was told the field was full. Race director Ron Ilgen said race officials would have considered Guerra had he requested an elite entry. Guerra ran anyway in hopes his federation would support his trip to next month’s WMRA world championships in Turkey.

“It was just unfortunate,” Ilgen said. “I told him to come back next year.”

Said Guerra: “I’m a little disappointed because I win. It’s my fault. I didn’t know the entries fill up very fast.”

Carpenter said Guerra asked to enter last month’s Barr Trail race the day before the event. He was granted an entry.

Rain gouges trail in parts

Some runners said Friday night’s deluge left the trail in rough shape in spots despite last week’s work by volunteer crews to repair damage from a rainy summer. Improved weather is forecasted for today’s marathon, but the trail is bound to show some ill effects.

“It was fairly washed out,” said Steve Moon, 41, of Colorado Springs, who ran Saturday’s Ascent. “There were some pretty good ruts in it.”

Foot-high berms were visible in places, and the trail suffered going up the W’s (early switchbacks) and at No Name Creek.


Pat Castle collapsed in the arms of volunteers at the top of Pikes Peak after he crossed the finish line Saturday. Castle, a 35-year-old Air Force Academy chemistry professor, reached his goal of finishing in less than three hours. He made it by 10 seconds.

Have knees, will run

Keith Booth, a 52-year-old from Austin, Texas, likely had some of the top running experience in the field.

With a white beard that ran to the top of the red bib number pinned near his stomach and an even longer pony tail, he looked the part. Booth made his eighth straight appearance at the Pikes Peak Ascent.

Moreover, he said today’s Pikes Peak Marathon will mark marathon No. 70.

And his knees still are holding up.

“I had my knee scoped in ‘83 and I haven’t had a problem since,” said Booth, who sported a jacket with a patch that read “Los Angeles Marathon 2003, March 2.”

“Knock on wood,” he continued. “Hopefully running helps. But you never know. I’ll do it as long as I can.”

Booth completed the Ascent in 4:42:15, which earned him 89th place in the men’s 50-54 division and 761st overall among men.

10 seconds to spare

The most emotional outburst at the finish line came from the lungs of 35-year-old Pat Castle from Colorado Springs.

Castle’s goal was to run the Ascent in under 3 hours.

His time: 2:59:51.

After he crossed the line, Castle bellowed with joy as if he’d won the lottery. He then collapsed to the dirt before staff members carried him away.

“When I was about one minute from the finish line, I told myself to let the Holy Spirit carry me forth,” Castle said. “After that, I don’t remember feeling the ground; I was walking on a cloud.”

Bang the drum slowly

About 30 yards from the finish, perched on a rock, Willum Williams beat steadily on a drum.

He did so for his friend Amy Wilson, who finished in 3:58:31.

It was Williams’ first time at the race.

Copyright 2006, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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