PHOTO: Some running royalty in this photo. Scott Jurek, seven-time winner of the Western States 100 is far left in the blue. Anton Krupicka, two-time Leadville 100 winner is wearing the big smile in the center. Far right is Alex Nichols, three Top 5 finishes Pikes Peak Ascent and 2010 ADT Mararthon champ. In the green is Joe Grant, a super-tough mountain runner. This group was heading out to run the Ponderous Posterior, a 50k trail run on the popular foothills trails at the base of Pikes Peak. We apologize that we don't know the others, but they were all cool.
Colorado Springs has always attracted some of the top athletes in the country but it was a bit of a surprise to see Scott Jurek - arguably the most famous ultra runner in the country - walk into local runner J.T.'s house before the start of the Ponderous Posterior 50K Saturday morning.
"We thought we'd come down and have a good time with the runners in Colorado Springs," Jurek said.
The Ponderous Posterior is the finale of the four-race Fat Ass Series, a loosely organized reason to put in some miles and hang out with friends. About 90 runners filed into J.T.'s home - which served as race headquarters - beginning at about 6:30 a.m. If anybody kept results of the race, no one paid any attention. It wasn't that kind of event, though J.T. did have trophies - featuring the shining south end of a north-bound horse - for the swiftest runners.
For a fun event that has "no rules and no entry fee," it certainly drew a talented field.
Jurek, who won the Western States 100 - the Superbowl of ultra running - seven consecutive times, recently moved to Boulder from Seattle. Saturday's event provided his first taste of Colorado Springs-area trails.
"It's definitely a little strange calling myself a Coloradan after living in the Northwest for so long," Jurek said. "But Colorado is the place to be right now. It has really energized my training."
Jurek was joined by Anton Krupicka, one of the country's top ultra runners, plus Manitou Springs' Matt Carpenter, 12-time winner of the Pikes Peak Marathon.
The runners tackled a course designed by Krupicka and J.T., a tough mountain runner in his own right (36th at the 2010 Hard Rock 100), who linked several popular trails together from Garden of the Gods to Williams Canyon, Waldo Canyon, Longs Ranch Road, Intemann Trail and Red Rock Canyon.
"I really wanted to put together a course that showcased all the trails, other than Barr Trail, which everyone knows because of the Ascent and Marathon," Krupicka said. "I think the Springs has a ton of variety to offer."
Krupicka, a Colorado College graduate who lived in Colorado Springs from 2001 to 2008, will race in the Rocky Raccoon 100 in Huntsville, Texas, on Feb. 5, then will race the prestigious Western States 100 in June (he was second there last year). But the big goal is the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, a 100-miler in France. "It's kind of like the world premier 100-mile race."