Pikes Peak Sports

Running, Cycling, Hiking and Climbing in the Pikes Peak Region

2012 PikesPeakSports.us Triple Crown Runners team page

PikesPeakSports.us and the Triple Crown of Running are proud to introduce the 2012 PikesPeakSports.us Triple Crown Runners racing team. The team includes runners of various abilities chosen from a list of about 60 applicants, including experienced trail veterans like Jon Teisher, a three-time finisher of the Hard Rock 100-mile race, along with runners new to the sport like 19-year-old Phoebe Blessing. They've 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. Along the way, they'll share their experiences on PikesPeakSports.us. Look for their updates every couple of weeks. We'll provide photos and even some video interviews as we roll through the summer season. This is going to be fun. Special thanks to Mountain Equipment Recyclers and Mike Mazzola for their support.
Bill Beagle, 60
Communications Specialist/Video Producer

Blogs: Channeling David Byrne ** It's a Bear ** Sprucing UP! ** Born to Slog ** Hill Billy ** A Gem of a Day for the Crown ** Perspective ** Two legs under me **Huffin' up Herman ** HilLove ** Holy Cross Training ** Wheez and Whine ** The Evil Roots ** Oh what a feeling

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started?
I must have been about 4 or 5. I was a real finicky eater and, having refused dinner, was now being chased by my Great Aunt Mary. I’ve never forgotten the image of her, in a dress, apron flapping, holding a plate full of food, trying to run in stubby heels through the uneven grass of her yard. I successfully eluded her and while my eating habits would improve, I probably didn’t run for another 20 years. For me exercise always had to involve basketball, racquetball or something where there was a point or points to running, a game that was involved. When I did start jogging, late 1970s, which I suppose was about the time the jogging fad really kicked in, it was most likely in a pair of “sneakers.” I probably didn’t get running shoes until much later. My first race was a 5K “fun run.”
Tell us about your best race.
Well, if you mean “best” in terms of timing, I’d probably have to dig into the “least worst,” as speed has never been part of my tool kit. I’m more likely to measure “best” with my funmeter. In that regard, The Great Race, in Pittsburgh is a really fun 10K that is mostly downhill, finishing in Point State Park at the confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela (10 points if you pronounce it correctly) rivers. Some people dress in costumes, one guy carried a bugle...you’ve been there...just one of those fun runs. As a bonus, you finish on the point just as the Pittsburgh Marathon runners do (that race is in May, five months before the Great Race) so you can fantasize about being a real distance runner.
What do you like about the Triple Crown?
What’s not to like? The challenge it presents, the variety, i.e. the incomparable beauty of the Garden of the Gods, the steady uphill beat of the Summer Round-Up with it’s “fly-down” finish and the physical and mental challenge of the Ascent, the opportunity to summit one of Colorado’s great, majestic peaks, the iconic Pikes, a feat Zeb might think was just a little bit crazy. I also like the fact that the shortest race, the Summer Round-Up, is the middle leg of the Triple Crown.
Why do you run?
As a means to an end. I love to hike the tall peaks and jogging at this elevation is a great way to condition for those final summit pushes. Running also offers the social aspect of enjoying it with a friend or group or the solitude of being on a trail by yourself. Not to mention the trails we have to choose from.
Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why?
Like those who have posted here previously I would say “How do you choose?”
However, for the sake of discussion, I will single out Spruce Mountain. Even though it is barely over the Douglas County line, I’m still surprised at how many local hikers, bikers and runners don’t know about this gem. I like it because it’s a nice distance, a loop of approximately 5.2 miles with enough “up” to give you a good workout. More table top than mountain, once you are on the top of Spruce it’s a nice easy jog to a downhill finish. Running the loop clockwise provides a steady ascent up switchbacks. Running it counterclockwise will take you up a service road on the backside. The road is about a half mile long and will test the mettle of the best hill runner. Throw in the spectacular views in every direction, great spots to rest or picnic, either on sittin’ rocks or some very nice picnic tables and you’ll be thanking Douglas County for the way they’ve developed and maintain this trail. Be advised they are sticklers about having dogs on leashes and it’s not uncommon to find friendly but diligent rangers who will remind you of this rule.

Phoebe Blessing, 19
Colorado College sophomore, neuroscience major

Blogs: It's in my genes ** 20 Before 20 ** For better or worse ** A beginner's guide to the Triple Crown ** A small adjustment

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started?
Not long… I was on my middle school cross-country team until an unfortunate growth spurt made me barely capable of walking without tripping over my awkwardly large feet, much less run. I managed to use that excuse for the next 5 years to get out of any amount of running, and gradually became more and more terrified at the prospect of running more than a mile or two. It really wasn’t until last year that I started running regularly. I went to high school in New Jersey, where I found little motivation in my surroundings, but being back in Colorado for college made me want to be outside all the time. Over the summer, I started running on a trail near my house as a quick and easy way to get outside, and fell in love.
Tell us about your best race.
Well I don’t really have many to choose from. My first official race was in January of this year (discounting, of course, my 6th grade cross country meets). My favorite race was the Super Half Marathon I finished in February. I ran in it with my mom (Michelle Blessing –super athlete), and she was kind enough to not totally kick my butt, which made me feel like a rockstar. It was also my longest race, and the first time I really felt like a “runner.”
What do you like about the Triple Crown?
The idea of it, I guess. I haven’t actually done any of them yet, so I can’t really give specifics, but I can say that I’m very excited about the prospect. I like having something to work towards, too, and these are certainly going to be challenges. One of the most exciting things so far, though, is seeing Pike’s Peak every day and knowing that I am going to be running up it in just a couple of months!
Why do you run?
I daydream pretty regularly, and mostly unintentionally. Daydreaming through an organic chemistry lecture or during a rush at work, though, proves to be counterproductive, and before I began running I often felt like my mind was cluttered. Running allows me an escape from the things in my life that are difficult or stressful, and provides the perfect opportunity to daydream all I want. I can let my mind wander when I’m running, which in turn helps me focus throughout the rest of the day.I also run just to stay active, and be able to hike, ski, or play whatever and whenever I want to. Not to mention I have a serious sweet tooth, and running helps me stay in shape so that I can enjoy my ice cream guilt-free.
Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why?
I am a big fan of the incline, despite the fact that it still absolutely wrecks me every time I do it. I actually think that’s one of the reasons I enjoy it so much – I love to challenge myself, and I push myself a little bit harder every time I get up there. I have so much fun running down Barr trail after the incline, too. To be honest, though, I really haven’t run too many of the trails around town. My mom has introduced me to a couple of them, but during the school year I mostly run in Monument Valley Park and Sonderman Park because I can run straight from my dorm to the trails, so I can fit in a run between class and lab, or after work before it gets too dark.

Sharon Greenbaum, 49
Yoga Fitness teacher/YMCA

Blogs: Cleaning out the trophy case ** Milestones ** Garden of the Gods Race and Community! ** Healing from the Garden adn a broken heart **Summer Roundup 12K - thank you for sticking with the plan ** Reflections: Eugene, Prefontaine, Losing Everything* ** Triple Crown Experiments ... Death of a great Olympian **Just another fine day on the mountain

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started?
I have been a runner for 34 years. I was your usual teenager who had tried many sports at school - gymnastics, basketball, volleyball, and settled in on the running. I picked it and it picked me, if you know what I mean.
Tell us about your best race.
I will give you the Top 3. It was my 16th birthday and I decided to try a marathon. I had shown some potential for distance running after a jog-a thon for the American Cancer Society earlier that year in which my goal was to jog eight miles, but I kept "doing one more loop" and next thing I knew I had jogged 25 miles. Anyway, I ran a 3:24 marathon in Pueblo and I realized I might get good at this. I went on to Adams State and won Nationals in 2:55 a few years later. I also cherish the memory of a race called the Rustman Triathlon in which I set a record, a few years after my children were born. We were living overseas on a small island at the time, so it was actually simple to train for this triathlon. I really enjoyed the convenience of the training because of my minimalist nature.
Sometimes I think this "best race" thing is a bit over-rated. I am older now and PR's are long gone, yet there is almost a more special feeling in each race because I am just grateful to be there and still have my health while I watch many my age struggle with this thing (health) that we do take for granted. And I don't feel that pressure anymore.
What do you like about the Triple Crown?
I like the Triple Crown because of my history with it. I started running the races when I was 15 and still do now. Training for the Ascent feels like you are training for a marathon, but without the wear and tear. After all of those years of high road mileage I became like a car with an expired warranty. And, as all we runners know, the love and passion of this sport runs very deep, and the thought of giving it up makes a part of you die inside. The Triple Crown races, particularly the culminating race, the Ascent, allows for these older bodies to still be a part of this running thing - much gentler on the body. I like each race because each one gets you ready for the next, and is a walk down memory lane as well. Other races have grown and changed so much through all of these years, hoards of people come out of the woodwork to run and you get sort of lost in the crowd of each race. The Triple Crown, however keeps a more intimate relationship with each runner, especially at the awards ceremony. In the end, you feel like you are home again, visiting mom and pop.
Why do you run?
I only run 3-4 times per week now and it feels like it is the one thing I truly do for myself. I do it to be with my friends, family, even the dogs. I like how, while it is sort of mindless, it takes gentle focus at the same time. I love the fitness benefits, the scenery, and the break from the constant multi-tasking of mothering, working, etc.
Where is your favorite place to run in the Pikes Peak area and why?
My favorite runs are the canyon areas by Pikes Peak. I enjoy these both with my friends or with my beagle mix, Sky. In the winter the dog and I get into a rhythm and as I watch her play (going to the tree with the squirrel on top or eating snow) and see her pure excitability of just being out there, it is contagious and I feel that way in turn. I occasionally take a morning (maybe sometime I will try a day, but I am a talker so that would be a challenge) to not speak a word and my chihuahua and beagle are who I am with when I engage in this practice. I am also a little weird in that I actually like track work. Maybe it comes from my collegiate experience. I like running intervals and, lets face it, in Colorado Springs even running around a track is beautiful with Pikes Peak looming in the background.

Katie Schwing, 28
Editor/Designer HDR Engineering

Blogs: My Brief Brush with Greatness ** Quality > Quantity ** Preparations ** GOG Race Report ** The I-Word, or always go to the running store ** Trying to find the words **Slice of Life ** Doldrums ** Here goes nothing

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started?
Just over three years. After a lazy adolescence and early adulthood (my mom likes to say, "I never thought you'd become a runner"), I moved to Colorado. I grew up along the East Coast, so the craggy, violent topography of the Rocky Mountains quickly snared my interest. I started hiking with friends before our night shifts at the newspaper, exploring the trails on the west side of the city. I started running around my neighborhood occasionally, for "fitness." Shortly after New Year's in 2009, I was hiking Eagle Peak on the Air Force Academy when a friend said, "We just started training for a half-marathon in May, and the longest run in the training program so far has been 2 miles." "Two miles?" I thought. "I can run 2 miles."
Had I known better, I probably would have chosen a shorter goal for my first race. Also, I probably would not have gone from running one day a week to five days a week, as the training program dictated. Having never followed such a thing before, I threw myself into it, dropping 30 pounds as I knocked out the workouts obsessively. I subsequently spectacularly injured my right IT band. I did not recover in time to run the half in May, but I made it through 13.1 in November 2009. Something broke in my brain, and I eventually began to enjoy running, especially on trails. Since then, I've done more halfs than I can keep track of, two full marathons, the Pikes Peak Ascent, and dozens of shorter races. I've run at Valley Forge, along the Outer Banks of North Carolina, up the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Rocky!), and in one of New Orleans' historic cemeteries.
Tell us about your best race.
The Imogene Pass Run in 2011. First of all, it's a fantastic race. The views are outstanding, and the organization is top-notch. It's a 17-mile course that climbs a rough Jeep road to 13,114 feet at the top of the pass between Ouray and Telluride. It's 10 miles uphill and 7 down. I was coming off the 2011 Colorado Relay (read that story here) and hadn't really been training for Imogene or any trail races, but luckily it was one of those races where everything just clicks. I power-hiked up the pass well under the cutoff times and cruised down the other side. The exhilaration of reaching the top of the pass is matched only by the feeling of finishing the Ascent, at least in my experience.
What do you like about the Triple Crown?
It's a collection of races to challenge runners of all abilities, and it's a wonderful showcase of the diverse and beautiful places to run in our backyard. This is the first year for me to do the Garden of the Gods 10-miler and the Pikes Peak Marathon, and I'm excited to test myself out there.
Why do you run?
Now that I am a runner, it's hard to imagine not running. The feeling of freedom and strength in hauling myself up a hill to zoom down the other side through whatever elements our climate decides to dish out that day -- you can't beat it. Running is life itself on a smaller scale -- successes and failures, ups and downs, trials and errors, stubbed toes, fluids -- and spending time on the trails makes me feel more alive. I run to connect with nature and the Colorado Springs community. I like to push myself to see what I'm capable of, and this early in my running career, I'm still seeing steady improvements. Also, I've found I'm not a very nice person when I don't run.
Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why?
How to choose? I love Palmer Park, Section 16, Waldo Canyon, Rampart Reservoir, and the Falcon trail at the Air Force Academy because of the great scenery. I wouldn't say long runs along the Santa Fe trail are my favorite, but it's three blocks from my door and a fantastic resource for racking up the miles. I've been loving the morning runs in Garden of the Gods with the Pikes Peak Road Runners (shoutout to Josh and the Attack Pack!). I have a love/hate relationship with Barr Trail, having shed blood, sweat, and tears on it, often all in the same trip. It's mostly love, though.

Don Solberg, 43
Flight Paramedic for Flight for Life Colorado

Blogs: My perfect training plan; Beer and a haircut *** Matt Carpenter is faster than a locomotive, Chaz LaLonde climbs Mt. Everest and I finish Garden of the Gods ** My Many Meltdowns

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started?
I've only been seriously running since 2008 when I moved here from Arizona. I have always like to hike mountains and when I got here I heard about the Manitou Incline. Like many people, I became addicted to those crazy steps and was up there many times per week. I then heard about the Barr Trail Race and Pikes Peak Marathon. Wow! A race up the mountain! I couldn't believe that people actually run up that thing. So I began training for those races and have really grown to love mountain and trail running ever since.
Tell us about your best race.
I hope my best race is yet to come! Last year I won Crosstimbers Trail Marathon near Lake Texoma in Texas. That was a great feeling and being a 43-year-old, 6-foot-5, 200-pound runner, I know I don't have too many of those first-place overall finishes in my future. So that one will always be special to me but my best race, no matter what type of performance, will always be the Pikes Peak Marathon.
What do you like about the Triple Crown?
This year will be my first Triple Crown! I have never run the Garden of the Gods 10 miler. The roads have never been my strong point but from what I hear it is a very challenging course. The organization and atmosphere at these races is spectacular and I am looking forward to the unique challenges that each race has to offer.
Why do you run?
I believe I run mostly for the challenge, I have played basketball my whole life and have always loved competition. Running allows me to stay competitive, either in my age group, with friends or just with myself. Those are the things that started me to run but the great people that I have met are the reason I keep running. Nothing better than to go on a hard run with friends then go drink some beer and talk about running. Running makes me feel good when other things in my life aren't going well. Going through a divorce this year has been very difficult but running is the one thing that has remained consistent in my life and I don't think that without it or the friends that I have met through running I could have made it through all of this.
Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why?
Anywhere on Pikes Peak! 14,115' with Pikes Peak is tattooed on my back to prove it! I run with the Incline Club and any run with this group is my favorite. Every time I run Barr Trail I see something new, either a new trail, rocks, streams, wildlife or a great view. I live in Falcon, so it's a long drive for me to go to Pikes all the time, so I do enjoy running in Black Forest also.There is a really cool 4-mile loop with rolling trails through the trees, it lets us folks out on the plains feel like we are in the forest without having to drive far.

Jon Teisher, 36, social worker

Blogs: Is this thing on? ** Salida ** Run to Work ** Daily racing and awesome facial hair ** Waldo Canyon Fire: Did that just happen? ** Going long ** Hardrock ** Almost there  ** Next time I'll solicit donations for my walk-a-thon

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started?
I started running in August of 1989. I wanted to play football but I weighed 85 pounds so I ran cross-country instead. The first run I ever did was a scheduled 2.7 miler around town. I ran the first 100 meters in about ten seconds, then laid down on the sidewalk and thought I was going to die.
Tell us about your best race.
My best race is hard to pick. I've raced everything from the quarter mile to a hundred miles. My three Hardrock finishes would be right up there. My first Pikes Peak Ascent, finished while living at sea level in Austin, Texas, would be up there as well, I enjoyed that so much I moved here. Finishing the Boston Marathon, even though I tanked the race, is a moment I'll always remember. I'm hoping to have my best race this August, that three hour barrier for the Ascent has been taunting me for a long time. But for my final answer, my girlfried Katie tells me my best race was the beer mile I met her at five years ago.
What do you like about the Triple Crown?
Not sure how this has happened, but I've actually never run the Triple Crown before. I've done each race, but never all in the same year. The series will keep me honest, forcing me to work on the speed needed to get through the Garden and Roundup, and of course the climbing required for the Ascent.
Why do you run?
I run to keep from getting fat from all the beer I drink. It's also allowed me to visit great places and meet great people. Most of the memories I have from running aren't specific results, but good times with friends before, during, and after a run.
Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why?
Living in Old Colorado City, the trails of Red Rock Canyon and the Garden get a lot of my time. I usually run there before sunrise, and both places are a great start to the day. But picking a favorite trail in this area is hard. From my front door I can also hit Section 16, Cheyenne Canon, Intemann, Barr, Waldo, and on and on. Incredible place to live for a trail runner.

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