This story has been archived from the Tuesday, August 29, 2006 AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Austin group scales Pikes Peak

By Brom Hoban

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Nearly 90 Austin runners made the trek to Manitou Springs, Colo., to run the Pikes Peak Marathon last week, making it the largest group of participants from any city outside of Colorado.

The second-oldest continuously run marathon in North America, Pikes Peak is actually several races: the 13.32-mile ascent up the 14,115-foot peak, the full 26.6-mile marathon ascent and descent, and in some cases the “double,” which involves running the ascent on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday.

A major reason for the huge Austin showing was the Rogue Training Systems Pikes Peak training program, headed up by Steve Sisson, now the assistant women’s track coach at the University of Texas. Sisson was the first overall Austin finisher, with a time of 5:45:36 for the full marathon.

Julia Wolfe was the first Austin-area woman to finish the full marathon, posting a 6:21:49.

Under Sisson’s guidance, Austin runners trained for 21 weeks running trail races and traveling to other mountain runs for preparation.

“I consider some of his training exercises to have been more difficult than the race itself — 30 miles in rugged Bandera in the Texas summer heat, for example,” said runner Kirk McGlamery. “That tough training prepared me mentally and physically.”

Austin’s Sadie Barrs, who placed fifth in the 25-29 age group (7:18:21), described Pikes Peak as a unique experience.

“It’s hard to be on your feet that long, and when you get there, it’s overwhelming how steep the mountain actually is,” said Barrs, who has a 3:37 marathon best and is a math teacher at Austin High School. “Around here, you get up a hill and it’s over. Up there, it just doesn’t end.

“People would cheer for you as they were coming down, and you were going up, so that was great.”

The weather held up well for the runners, with cool breezes and temperatures in the 40s, although they encountered quite a bit of slush above the tree line.

“My own race was a little disappointing,” said Sisson, who had wanted to run faster but was hampered by a sciatic problem. “But I have to say: If it had not been for the team environment we went up there with, I probably would have dropped out. We had a really tight-knit group, so I really needed to finish the race for them.”

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