This story has been archived from the Friday, August 18, 2006



Marc Murphy, 52, of Woodland Park, left, and Kevin Dougherty, 52, navigated the mountain in last year’s Ascent.

The usual race tactics won’t work for the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. A fast first mile will put runners in oxygen debt early and it’s nearly impossible to muster a finishing kick near the top of the 16 Golden Stairs. Instead, competitors pick a race strategy that suits their abilities.

- Elites
Most competitors see the backs of these guys/ladies early in the race before they separate from the field and disappear on the trail. The elites plan to run to the top and usually do — faster than everyone in the race.

- Elite wannabes
These competitors put in plenty of training time and intend to run with the leaders in sight. Sometimes the strategy backfires, especially on the steepest parts of the course, and these athletes are forced to slow down and walk.

- Part runner, part hiker
Many Ascent competitors use this strategy: run when you can, then hike when the terrain gets too rough. These racers save energy on the steepest and most taxing parts of the course by walking (which is nearly as fast as running on some parts). When the trail is not as steep, these athletes make up ground by running.

- Hikers
Some competitors don’t intend to run at all. They hike the entire course and still can make the cutoff times. Sure, this strategy saves energy, but it’s tough to hold back when everyone around you is running (at least at the start).

THE ASCENT: Saturday, first wave 7 a.m., second wave 7:30 a.m.

THE MARATHON: Sunday, 7 a.m.

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

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