By Monica Smith
Kim Dobson, 27, of Grand Junction, rewrote history Saturday at the Pikes Peak Ascent, finishing in 2 hours, 24 minutes, 58 seconds, crushing the women’s course record by an astounding 8:32.
“I was a bit surprised,” Dobson said following her race. “My training has gone well and all of my training runs are faster than last year, so I felt like if I had a good day I could take some time off of the record. I was thinking if I came in at 2:30 I would be happy – I was not expecting 2:25.”
The previous record was 2:33:31 set by Lynn Bjorklund in 1981. Dobson barely missed the record in 2011 finishing in 2:34:04. Dobson and Bjorklund are the only women in race history to run under 2:35 for the Ascent.
With the win, Dobson also captured the new $5,000 Ascent Bounty prize, given to the first woman to eclipse the 2:32 mark. Race officials and fans gasped in disbelief as she approached the finish with her arms spread wide in celebration.
“That’s the most amazing thing I have seen besides Matt Carpenter’s many wins in my 18 years here,” said Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon race director Ron Ilgen. “To do what she did is phenomenal.”
Dobson’s time was fast enough for a sixth-place finish overall. She crossed the finish line a few steps in front of three-time Ascent champion, Simon Gutierrez.
“I almost felt like I was in a dream honestly,” she said. “It was probably the most happy I have ever been after a race.”
Dobson said her love affair with mountain running actually began at the Ascent just four years ago.
“(Pikes Peak) was my first mountain (race) and I just loved it,” she said. “I fell in love with long sustained climbs and high elevation. And I think that’s why it’s special to me, because it’s the race where I kind of realized how much I love mountains and running up them.”
First-time Ascent runner Ellie Keyser, 23, of Fort Collins, placed second in 2:38:11, a time that put her among the top-five fastest Ascent debuts in women’s race history. It was all the more impressive because she had mostly been training for road races.
“I just went out there with no expectations,” Kesyer said. “I’ve been training with the Boulder Track Club and had a great race a couple of weeks ago with a huge (personal record), so I’m feeling really good right now and I’m excited.”
Keyser said “the race was done phenomenally” and it was a great experience.
“My parents have been doing this for years and I just finished up five years (of running) at Colorado State University, so I could finally do this race,” Keyser said.
She said it may be a couple of years before she returns to race the peak because she has her sights set on the 2016 Olympic Trials. But said she will be back.
The 2010 Ascent Champion, Brandy Erholtz, 34, of Evergreen, clocked a 2:45:40 to finish third.
Erholtz will run for the U.S. Mountain Running Team at the World Championships in Italy in two weeks. It's always tough to have two big races so close together.
“It’s Pikes, I wanted to do well," Erholtz said. "But my goal of the season was to make the (U.S.) team and do well,” Erholtz said. “So it was pretty different (this year).”
Erholtz said she hopes to eventually take a year to train specifically for Pikes Peak and produce a result that she likes.
Lisa Goldsmith and Amanda Ewing rounded out the top five for the women, crossing the line in 3:03:29 and 3:03:36 respectively.