By Nancy Hobbs
American Trail Running Association
Cyclists have enjoyed a pilot program to ride alongside cars through the month of September on the Pikes Peak Highway. For $12, the regular per person toll fee, a cyclist can ride to the summit of Pikes Peak, and back down unescorted. Since the program launched on September 4, approximately 300 riders ages 10-72 have participated in the program.
On October 7, runners will get their turn on the highway by participating in the Pikes Peak Road Ascent, a 10 kilometer race from the Tollgate to Crystal Reservoir.
Last year the inaugural run on the highway was held in late August, just one week after the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. It was an 11.6-mile run.
“Having the race in October as opposed to August kind of marks the end of the summer running season,” said co-race director Ron Ilgen, “And this year we shortened the race to the 10k distance. I think we’ll get a wider range of runners because the course is not as rigorous. It’s still a tough run, but will be a more enjoyable run. The experience of running on the highway is incredible.”
And there is a great chance of seeing the region's abundant wildlife. The thick forests that surround the race course are the home of elk, deer, bear and the legendary Yeti, otherwise known as Big Foot..
“It’s a good year for Yetis,” said Tim Bergsten, owner of Pikespeaksports.us, “The number of sightings is up.”
Yeti video from last year's race: Why you NEVER run alone in Big Foot country
The Pikes Peak Road Ascent will start at the Pikes Peak tollgate at 7:30 a.m. The road will be closed to vehicular traffic except for support vehicles. Spectators may drive to Crystal Reservoir starting at 6:30 a.m. until 7:15 a.m. to watch their friends loved ones finish. The fee is $4 per person. The road opens to all vehicular traffic at 9 a.m.
The race starts at an elevation of 7,750 feet and climbs to more than 9,000 feet. Along the course there will be three aid stations with water and Gatorade. If runners are not at the final aid station, which is located at the five-mile mark, by 9 a.m. they must stop. They will miss the final out-and-back portion which proceeds one-half mile past Crystal Reservoir before turning around and finishing in the parking lot. To be listed in the official results, runners must cross the finish line by 9:15 a.m., 1 hour and 45 minutes after they start which translates to 17 minute miles.
The awards ceremony will be held overlooking the reservoir.
“One of the highlights this year is the backdrop of Pikes Peak for our awards ceremony,” said Ilgen, “Last year we had the awards ceremony later in the afternoon in Manitou Springs. Having the awards ceremony at Crystal is the perfect end to the event.”
Awards will be presented to the top three men and women overall, and age group winners starting at 14 and under, and 15-99 in five year increments.
Registration is open to the first 250 runners at imAthlete.com with an entry fee of $45 through October 6, and $50 on race day.
The race will be chip timed and runner numbers can be picked up starting October 5, at the downtown Colorado Running Company store at the corner of Tejon and Cache La Poudre. The entry fee includes a finisher shirt and a ride back to the start line although organizers encourage friends and family to drive to Crystal Reservoir to watch the finish and take their running friends back down the highway.
The Pikes Peak Road Ascent is organized by the Pikes Peak Marathon, Inc./Triple Crown of Running with the support of the American Trail Running Association.