MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - The running community in Colorado Springs is big and contains many moving parts, but on Thursday, Aug. 18th, it will become one, a family that lives and plays together, celebrating its running culture at the second Pikes Peak Run Fest, hosted by Pikes Peak Marathon, Inc. The fun begins at 5 p.m. at Alamo Square Park, 215 S. Tejon. The event is free and everyone is invited.
The Run Fest precedes the 61st running of the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon on Aug. 20 and 21 in Manitou Springs. Businesses and organizations interested in participating in the Run Fest are asked to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Race participants are invited to pick up their race packets at the Run Fest. (Race packets will also be available at the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon Expo, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, and noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, at Memorial Park in Manitou Springs.)
The Colorado Springs Sports Corp., an organization that knows how to throw a good party, is helping with logistics and marketing.
“We started the Pikes Peak Run Fest last year to commemorate the 60th running of the Pikes Peak Marathon, and to celebrate 60 years of running in the Pikes Peak region,” said Ron Ilgen, Pikes Peak Marathon, Inc. president. “It was such a big success with many recommending that it continue, that we decided to make it an annual celebration and serve as the kickoff for our weekend of races on Pikes Peak. It provides the people of Colorado Springs, runner or not, a way to share in the excitement and be a part of our races.
The history of running in Colorado Springs is rooted in the Pikes Peak Marathon, which began in 1956 with body builder Monty Wolford’s win in the inaugural race. Since then, the Pikes Peak races have become internationally famous and have forged the region’s identity as a mountain/trail running hub.
“Indianapolis has the 500, New Orleans has Mardi Gras, we have the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon and we are just as passionate about it as those places are of their history,” said Peter Maksimow, Pikes Peak runner and ‘The Prez’ at Team Colorado, a group of local elite runners that promotes fun and adventure on our trails.
Runners are everywhere. And for good reason. Running makes us healthy, and it makes us happy. And for more than 60 years, the citizens of the Pikes Peak Region have made it a part of their culture.
There are running stores and businesses that specialize in shoes, clothes and products aimed at enhancing our running experiences. We have the Triple Crown of Running series, the Grand Prix, the Blue Moon Trail Run series, the Fall Series and Winter Series of races. There are weekly club and training runs. The Pikes Peak Road Runners’ website lists about 210 running events, including about 115 races that collect roughly $1 million annually in entry fees.
“Colorado Springs is a major running town, especially for mountain and trail running, with some of the best runners in the world both living and training here,” Ilgen said. “One can say that the Pikes Peak Marathon started the sport of mountain running. It also started the legacy and popularity of running in the area.”
New this year, Pikes Peak Marathon, Inc. is proud to announce that an exhibit documenting 60 years of running on Pikes Peak will open on Aug. 13 at the Pioneers Museum.
Run Fest plans call for live music by the Austin Young Band, plus a selection of local craft beers, food vendors and exhibits by running organizations, companies and stores. About 2,000 people attended last year and danced well into the night to Austin Young’s energized Blues guitar.
“Our race participants and vendors had such a good time at last year’s Run Fest, we can’t wait to do it again this year,” said Karole Campbell, Pikes Peak Marathon marketing manager. “It made a great connection between the races, the community of Colorado Springs and the running and outdoor culture of the Pikes Peak region.”