By Travis Duncan
They're called "Doublers" in the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon.
They race 13.32 miles to the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak in the Pikes Peak Ascent on Staurday. Then drag themselves out of bed to race to the summit and back to Manitou Springs in the Pikes Peak Marathon on Sunday.
Fujio Miyachi, 34, from Tokyo came into this year’s Ascent and Marathon hungry for victory in the Doublers category. This would be his fourth Ascent and second time as a Doubler. Last year he took fourth place overall and was first in his age group.
Well, he can scratch his Doubler goal off his list. Miyachi was the fastest among 131 runners who completed both races. He finished the Ascent in 3:07:28, then knocked off the marathon in 4:48:43, for a combined time of 7:56:11.
Among the women's Doublers, 19-year-old Megan J. Kunkel of Colorado Springs took the title. She finished the Ascent in 3:34:25 and posted a Marathon finish of 5:52:24 for a total time of 9:26:49.
Miyachi looked fresh at the starting line for Saturday’s Ascent, with his new wife Yuko by his side and his friend, Nozomu Kaneda, a shuttle driver he met four years ago, there to wish him well. But by the finish line of the marathon on Sunday, Miyachi’s legs were nearly completely covered in athletic tape and he struggled at points to stay upright while we talked.
This was a brutal race week for Miyachi, with him coming straight from competing in the 2012 Transrockies Run, a 6-day, 120-mile mountain race, where he placed 7thoverall.
“Because I had already injured my left leg [during the Transrockies Run], today the downhill was really hard on my right leg,” he said. “I was third yesterday for the Doublers in the Ascent, and today I was first [in the Marathon].”
Miyachi said he’s now on the lookout for more nearby mountain races in the next few weeks. He travels all over the globe as a runner sponsored by the company, Louis Garneau, named for its Canadian cyclist founder, but he said the Ascent and Marathon have become his biggest annual challenge.
“I love this race because it’s scenic and there are good people,” he said. “This is the hardest race in the world.”
A race like the Pikes Peak Marathon can play havoc with your willpower, even for a world-class athlete like Miyachi.
“The whole time I wasn’t sure if I’d finish,” he said. “I ran a 60-mile race in Hawaii recently that taught me a lot. I just kept telling myself, ‘Be patient.’ Today I told myself, ‘Just have patience. And if it gets too hard, just walk."
But there is one runner who may understand more than anyone the challenge of running nearly 40 miles on Pikes Peak in 24 hours.
"I just love the mountain," Buxton said after picking up his . "I love the Ascent and the Marathon. This is its own culture."
But why? Why put himself through the pain?
"Sheer stupidity,' Buxton said, flashing a smile.
The challenge for Buxton becomes more difficult considering that he lives in Austin, Texas, where training for steep trails and thin air can be difficult.
"Down there you really can't train for the altitude,but I think that running intervals helps. And the heat makes it difficult. Honestly, I don't train that much."
Hi Travis- nice to see Fujio's story in print. Just a few corrections since I was the one helping with the translation. It was a 60 mile race that Fujio had run a few years ago in Hawaii- 60 miles is his longest race ever and he admits that he is not an ultra runner but prefers the short, faster races. Also Fujio was 7th over all this past week in the( http://transrockies-run.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/RUN3-Stag... ) TransRockies Run which is a 3 day race for solo athletes. Thanks for your efforts!
Hydi, I made the fixes. Thanks for the heads up!