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2016 PikesPeak Sports.us Triple Crown Runners (aka The Mighty Marmots) team page

PikesPeakSports.us and the Triple Crown of Running are proud to introduce the 2016 PikesPeakSports.us Triple Crown Runners racing team ... aka "The Mighty Marmots!"

The team includes runners of various abilities who have dedicated themselves to completing the Triple Crown series: the Garden of the Gods 10 Mile Run, the Summer Roundup Run, and either the Pikes Peak Ascent or Marathon. Click for more info about the Triple Crown. Along the way, they'll share their experiences on
PikesPeakSports.us. Look for their updates every couple of weeks.

We'd like to than our team sponsors Mountain Equipment Recyclers and the Colorado Running Company. Big thanks to Pikes Peak Marathon, Inc. president Ron Ilgen for helping to keep the team tradition alive. This is the sixth edition of the popular team, which now has a lifetime roster of 36 members and a cult-like following. Team member bios are below. And you can read all of the blogs from former teams here > 2011,201220132014 and 2015.

Anna Meehan, 30, Clinical Research Audiologist

Blogs: Running is my release ** Vulnerable or resilient? ** Accepting the Challenge ** Refueling the mind, body and spirit ** Where'd the trees go? Recap of epic training

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started? As a kid I often would throw tantrums and would storm out of the house. I’d run as hard as I could until the weight of my emotions wasn’t as heavy.  I’d like to think I’m more controlled these days, but still run for the release and primal freedom it provides. I started racing about 5 years ago, finding the thrill of experiencing new trails/courses and running wild with my buddies!

Tell us about your best running experience. My first Pikes Peak Marathon (2014) was pretty epic due to the energy of all the runners and the amazing support on the mountain.  A close second was running The Bridger Ridge Run in Bozeman, Montana. Deemed by Runner’s World as the “Most Raw Exposure” on their best 31 trail races in America list in 2012, I knew I had to check it out.  I drove the 11 hours solo, ran the most ridiculous 20ish mile ridge, endured several brutal spills, crossed the finish line feeling broken,  camped out in a fellow runner’s backyard, and decided to drive home the next day. I physically had to assist my legs out of the car when stopping to pump gas and grab snacks. It was brutal, but totally worth it!

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series? The Garden 10 miler was my first race in Colorado Springs, and a stark awakening to the strength of the local running community.  I was desperately trying to beat a fierce lady in her 70s and a jack-rabbit of a 10 year old, both of whom were kicking my butt in that race! I recall thinking 'this is just unreal – a sport that unites folks of all ages, genders, backgrounds and personalities.' I fell in love with competing during that race, and continue to be a bit intimidated by the Garden 10miler.

Why do you run? To feel my heart race faster than the darting thoughts in my head!\

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why? Sonderman Park, because it’s a hidden secret and has some gnarly dirt hills for added pain.

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do? I’m a member of El Paso County Search and Rescue (EPCSAR)! Additionally, I love to snowboard, hike, and camp with my husband, our dogs, and friends. I also love to cook and eat good food!!!  Oh, and I’m obsessed with podcasts and audiobooks.

Jen Samora, 35, College Counselor, Colorado Preparatory Academy

Blogs: It's all uphill from here ** Competition ** Marmot Life ** More than just a run

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started? Well if I don't count running the Bolder Boulder as a kid (which I have deemed my favorite holiday of the year) I guess I would say that I started seriously running in college. I attended a private university that required students to run a 5K, at the end of each semester. I found it to be crazy at the time, but after walking the first semester and being sore beyond belief, I started running the course. As I would train with friends for the 5K I really started to enjoy the time getting out and seeing my improvement. I have been hooked on the "runner's high" ever since.

Tell us about your best running experience. I really enjoyed training for my first half marathon. I ran the Denver Rock and Roll half in 2013 and absolutely loved the feeling of becoming a stronger runner. I think it was my transition from a casual runner to one with a game face! I was happy about my time, and it ended up giving me the opportunity to qualify for the Pikes Peak Ascent. From that experience I discovered the importance of getting on a good training schedule. Now that I know I have what it takes I always tell my friends, "No more kid stuff."

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series? The challenge of the Triple Crown has always intrigued me. Training for my first Pikes Peak Ascent last year really motivated me to step up my running game, and I love that the courses require some hard core training. The series is not for the weak! Thinking about the race days that lie ahead have my pumped to lace up and train.

Why do you run? Running is my therapy! It has been the constant in my life to teach me about strength and endurance. It has been the one thing that has reminded me to take time for myself. I love the high I get when I run a faster split, crush a tough hill, or find a new place where I have never run before. I run because I can. I get thrilled to know that I have the ability and desire to run, and my hope is to one day be the old lady who is killing it on race day!

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why? I love Garden of the Gods! I am pretty much obsessed with running there - mainly because I love it when cars drive by and I'm running. In my head I think they are beyond impressed by my athleticism. Another reason why I love it there is because it is always a challenge. I have to "dig deep" every time I am tackling those long hills. I sing, I yell, I think of Rocky Balboa...whatever it takes, but the road course never gets old to me. I love the beauty that surrounds me while I run there, not to mention the view of Pikes Peak. I love telling the mountain, "I'm coming for ya!"

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do? I love having parties at my house! I am constantly trying to come up with reasons to have a party, so if you're reading this you are invited!  I also love to travel, go to sporting events and concerts, drink cold beer, make new friends, and watch Netflix and Hulu like it's my job.

Dave Mulligan, 55, Systems Engineer at the MITRE Corporation

Blogs: The definition of a retread ** Clearly I'm just a runner ... I think **Another beautiful day on the neighborhood ... uh ... Garden!** Here comes the Summer Roundup Trail Run ** Cowbell makes you faster ** Training while travelling ** Get out the door

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started? I guess I would say I've been running for about 12 years now. I decided to sign up for the Air Force Marathon when I got sent to the Air Force Institute of Technology. I did run some prior to that, but just enough to pass my Air Force PT test every year which didn't require a lot.

Tell us about your best running experience. My best running experience is probably still the TransRockies Run. The six-day, 120-plus mile event from Buena Vista to Beaver Creek was truly just an awesome experience.  But my favorite is probably the Big Sur International Marathon.

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series? The Triple Crown Series is just an amazing series of races.  All three races are different and challenging in their own right.  When I first moved to Colorado Springs, I signed up for the Pikes Peak Marathon to challenge myself.  I have a tendency to jump into the deep end when it comes to challenges.  The next year, I decided to try the series because I loved training in the Garden of the Gods so much I figured I might as well run the race.  The Summer Roundup was definitely an unknown, but I grew to love and hate High Drive.  I hope the Summer Roundup moves back to High Drive this year.  It always gave me a great sense of accomplishment to be able to run up High Drive and I miss all those people passing me after the turn-around on the way back down.

Why do you run? I run for therapy........really I just enjoy sharing the trails with my running buddies. They are the best!

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why? It's hard to narrow it down to one favorite place to run.  Colorado Springs and the Front Range have so many great places to run. Road is easy, Garden of the Gods. Trail, I don't know that I can narrow to one. I love Falcon Trail on the USAFA, and Rampart Reservoir, but Red Rocks, Section 16/Palmer Trail, Ute Valley, and Palmer Park are all right up there!

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do? I like to visit all our local breweries, which of course then leads to more running to try to maintain a healthy weight.  So many great places have opened in the past few years. Participating in the PPRR's Inaugural Brewers' Cup and getting to hang out with a great group of beer drinkers with a running problem has been a blast!  I've also waded into triathlons this last year, so I do like to spend time on my bikes as well, but I hate swimming!

Michael F Everson, 51, Owner of Michael Everson Agency, Inc., home, auto, business, and life insurance

Blogs: LRR Training Run *** Oh ... my ... GOG! ** Incline...Stations...Santa Fe...Guide Dog ** Did I miss church, I think not ** A shot at the summit ** Weekend Warrior ** Stop and Smell the ... ** Elk Park Trail: Just take photos ** Whoa, we're halfway there **  We're on a Mission

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started?  I started running in 1997.  It all started at a family reunion.  We were playing Family Reunion Basketball (no blood, no foul) in St. Louis, Mo. I took off down court for what should have been an easy layup or dunk and my knee blew up on approach. After surgery and months of PT, my brother, who is a physical therapist, suggested I use a stair climber to rebuild the muscles around the knee. A good friend of mine said he knew where a great stair stepper was. He took me to the Incline in December of 1997.  And thus began my mountain running career. The first organized race I ever ran was the 2000 Pikes Peak Ascent - go big or go home.

Tell us about your best running experience. Going to have to go with the 2012 Pikes Peak Marathon.  This is the first time in any race that I scored some hardware. The field overall was slow, and I had a pretty good day.  I wound up third in the 45-49 age group and took in three IVs along with significant oxygen at the medical tent when all was said and done.

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series?  I’ve run the Triple Crown in the past.  The last time was in 2007.  I love running the Pikes Peak races (either Ascent or Marathon), and I train for those races specifically. I am not a fast runner on asphalt or concrete.  So while I love the views in the Garden of the Gods, I can’t stand the hard surfaces.  So that will be my downfall in this summer’s races.

Why do you run?  I love being in the mountains.  Running on trails where few people run or even know about is a blast.  You see things that can only be seen if you run for miles into the deep woods.  My main reason is to stay healthy.  I have two kids that are 15 and 12.  I would like to be around for all their milestones: graduations, weddings, etc.. Since my kids came rather late in life, running keeps me fit so I can keep up with them.

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why?  Hands down, it’s the Incline.  It’s the hardest mile in the county and possibly the state. I climb the Incline three-to-four times a week.  I pepper long runs with the Incline Club every Sunday and shorter runs in Monument Valley Park.

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do?  I love to be with my family.  I’ve lived in Colorado Springs since 1966 with a seven-month stint in Greeley to get my Secondary Education Certification.  My oldest child is in the marching band at Air Academy High School, and it has been a blast watching this band perform.  She has been fortunate to be on a team that has won the state title both years she has been in band.  My youngest daughter likes to run and play softball.  So I get to run with her in the Kids Fall Series as a mid-pack pacer.  She and I also play catch in the backyard. Both my kids like to ski, so we usually hit the slopes four or five times a year. My wife is a musician and writer.  We met in college and got married in 1993. She plays harpsicord at the Margarita at Pine Creek once a month. I get to watch her and her ensemble play three or four times a year and it’s really entertaining. She writes Young Adult Fiction currently as a hobby, but will eventually go pro.

Danielle Spivey, 46, Orthopedic Rehabilitation Associates, Physical Therapist

Blogs:What have I gotten myself into? ** Sometimes life gets in the way ** High Drive Challenge ... Great Training for the Triple Crown **I am not ready for the Pikes Peak Ascent ** Ouch! Pikes Peak Training ** Panic, marmot, Ascent altitude training ** Hitting the August Wall

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started? I have been running since 2000 when my trusty Norkictrack bit the dust and I purchased a treadmill for my 5 a.m. workouts with taped Oprah shows.  I ran on my treadmill nearly daily for years until my friend Lydia invited me to run the Garden of the Gods 10 Mile in 2009, which was the beginning of leaving the 30 minute treadmill only run behind!

Tell us about your best running experience. There are so many BEST running experiences but truly the training in 2009 for the Garden of the Gods 10 mile leading into the ADT Marathon are some of my best memories of getting started with running.  A near tie would be all the training runs with my boyfriend, Dave and best friend Susie training to qualify for the 2012 Boston Marathon. I am all about fun training runs to prepare for the races more than the race itself.

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series? The GARDEN.  I love love LOVE the GARDEN.  The Garden in June, Bear Creek in July and the PEAK in August is the perfect way to round out the summer in our great state.  I start with my favorite place and feel the lure of the insanely challenging PEAK, with a bit of comfort in the middle!

Why do you run? I run because I am vain and I want to stay as close to my high school weight as possible.  YES it is true, but I also love the feeling of running with my friends and feeling so refreshed and accomplished when we are done.

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why? The GARDEN - THE GARDEN - THE GARDEN!  I love the bunnies darting across the road.  I love the birds all around us.  I love finding new images in the rocks. I love when the sun comes up and I see the sky changing colors through the various seasons in our beautiful state. I actually love the hills and how accomplished I feel when I get to the top of each one.  It took me a year of training to get through the GARDEN without having to walk.  I worked on that hill from that main parking lot and thought I would never get to the top without walking.  Now I focus on trying to get up the hills with faster cadence and less effort.  I try to run the GARDEN once a week unless crazy life gets in the way.

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do? Spend time with my boyfriend, Dave, my great children and my sweet dog.   Jess is soon to be 14 and is a mini me.  Josh will be 12 by the end of the summer and he is sweet and loving.   My golden retriever Rose just turned 10.  She's not a runner, but more into snacks and snuggling.  We call her the one-block dog, as that's her preferred distance.

Lindsey Grewe, 33 (but I still get carded all the freaking time), Web director for KKTV

Blogs: When thunder roars, why, oy why was I still outdoors? ** Eight weeks and wake up! ** Rehabilitating the Dreadmill ** Summer Roundup Rehash

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started? Back in middle school I was a girl with a dream of being an athlete, but I was hopeless at every sport I tried that involved any sort of coordination! Track was the only team you could be on without trying out - but the catch was, only three people per event got to go to the meets. I had been running mile time trials in PE, and I HATED them!  So, ignoring the fact that I was always one of the top finishers, I tried everything NOT to be a distance runner.  I tried sprinting, I tried field events (despite that whole no coordination thing.) Needless to say, my seventh-grade track career never made it beyond after-school practices. Discouraged, I almost didn't go out for track in eighth grade. What was the point if I was always going to be the 15th or 16th girl in an event that only took the first three?  But in PE, I was still consistently beating everyone in the timed mile. After one of the mile runs early in the spring semester, my PE teacher told me that I'd better be going out for track.  I realized I had made a huge mistake the year before ... I was trying a distance that was all wrong for me!  I wasn't a sprinter, I was a 400-meter runner!  I was still in total denial that I was a long distance runner.  But my 400 meter career ended before it even began when I went to the wrong group on the first day track practice and ended up with the 1,600 meter runners.  I ran the mile at every track meet that season, qualified for the eighth-grade Meet of Champions (like the Olympics for a girl who had been terrible at every sport she'd tried!), and the rest is history!  

Tell us about your best running experience. It's hard to pick my best!  One that sticks out is the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon several years ago.  A friend and I decided to run the half, so we drove from San Antonio to OKC the day before.  The whole weekend was ridiculous...I used to be bad about registering for races at the last minute, so we had to scramble with as few bathroom breaks as possible on the eight-hour trip to get me to the expo before the 5 p.m. cutoff!  Then, our attempt at carbo loading ended up being a three-hour wait at a restaurant because it was prom weekend!  The following morning, we made it all the way to the course before I realized I forgot my watch...we had to drive all the way back to our hotel to get it.  When we got back to the course, the race was already starting, and I hadn't even warmed up yet!  I was running for place, and panicking about getting stuck in the back of thousands of runners, so my friend threw me over the gate so I could still be near the front of the runners.  Once I finally got going...TWICE I had to stop for traffic (including a semi-truck one of those times!) because police weren't stopping anyone!  I was stunned when I got to a turn-around point eight or nine miles in, and saw there was no one near me!  This crazy race ended up being my first-ever race to win!  I even went under 1:26 for the first time!
What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series? To be completely honest, my whole focus this season is the Ascent.  An Achilles injury kept me out last year in what would have been my first try.  I've set (hopefully not too high!) goals of placing and breaking three hours, and all of my training is centered around hill strength versus more traditional race training.  In other words, I'm sort of sacrificing speed in the first two races because I have Ascent tunnel vision!  But that said, I think the series sounds AMAZING!  I'm excited to get a taste of it this year!
Why do you run? I love it.  I love how it makes me feel, mentally and physically.  When I still lived in San Antonio, I remember running up a huge hill in this sort of backcountry area in a state park. The hill was exhausting, but when I reached the top and got this amazing view, I realized that the reason I got treated to that view was because I could run.  It's given me an ability to see things that many people will never get to.  It's become such a part of me, that back when I had knee surgery and couldn't actually run for a few months, I would strap on a vest and deep-water run in a pool for 70, 80, 90 minutes...just so I could still have that daily run, in some way!
Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why? Rampart Reservoir.  I don't get out there enough, but it is hands down one of the most beautiful spots in Colorado Springs.  The pine trees, those inlets you run around, the stream and flowers on the Rainbow Gulch trail leading to the loop. The mountains always in sight.  It has everything wonderful about Colorado all in one location.  And bonus: because it's over 9,000 feet, you're getting altitude training too!  
When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do? I'm a huge bookworm.  Whether it's an actual book, or articles online, I spend every spare moment reading.  I'm also a diehard San Antonio Spurs fan (Go Spurs Go!), and follow them VERY closely during the season.  I love driving, and I could spend hours on the road listening to music.

Mike Mazzola, 42, Mountain Equipment Recyclers and Shift Thrift Store

Blogs: Ready or not ** Born to Run ** Wow! ** Moving in Missouri

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started? I’ve been running since I was a little kid. I had a lot of energy as a child and ran everywhere. All the adults used to make fun of me! Through grade school and high school I played a lot of soccer and basketball. In college I ran to stay in shape. After college I continued to run and started entering a few races. Throughout adulthood, I’ve always moved through periods of training for events and easier times of running casually for fitness. Currently, living on the westside of Colorado Springs, I run often on the amazing trails in Red Rocks Open Space, Garden of the Gods, The Incline, etc.  

Tell us about your best running experience. In 2001, I was going through life transitions and ran a marathon in Green Bay, Wis. It was the first time running that distance. It was a beautiful summer day and we ran the neighborhood streets, past Lambeau Field and through the city. It was a great feeling to finish! In 2002, I ran the Colorado Half Marathon in Fort Collins after recently moving here. To run down the Cache La Poudre river in spring and end in Old Town was a great experience for a new transplant to the west. Every day it’s a gift to run right here in Colorado Springs. We have an amazing trails system. Very few cities in our country offer this type of trail running in the city limits.

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series? These are amazing races. To be able to run the roads of Garden of the Gods, trails in Bear Creek Park and the famous Barr Trail is a gift. I have yet to attempt the Ascent and have always dreamed of participating. I’m also honored to be on the Mighty Marmots, which is supported by PikesPeakSports.us and the Triple Crown of Running. I’ve always loved following this team. The runners are an eclectic group from various backgrounds and abilities. It’s really exciting to be a part of it.

Why do you run? I run for sanity, balance, fitness, nature, etc. Through many life changes, it is the one activity I have always used to take care of myself. Even during the busiest work periods or stressful times, I’m always looking for a time to run. There is nothing more therapeutic than trail running. I usually run alone. With our great trail system, it’s a great way to commune with nature and find solitude from a busy daily life. I admire fit people running in their 70’s and 80’s. If I’m lucky, I hope to be one of those guys 30 years from now.

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why? As mentioned above, living on the West side of town is amazing. The Incline, Red Rocks Canyon Open Space, the Garden, Bear Creek, Section 16 and Cheyenne Canon are all within a few minutes of home. My favorite route is the Contemplative/Roundup trail in Red Rocks. Early morning during the work week, you can have this amazing park to yourself.  

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do? I like to mountain and road bike the same city trails and streets that are great for running. In the winter it’s fun to ski and summer in Colorado is great for camping, backpacking, fishing, etc. I love spending time with my wife Julie doing these activities. Our son Brendan is at CSU in Fort Collins. We’re proud to say he completed his first half-marathon this spring! He and I love to fly-fish together.

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