Well, here we go again, a third stab at that great sentinel above Colorado Springs. I mentioned to someone that I was part of a group attempting the Ascent again and this person, a very nice person mind you, never says a bad word about anyone, said "Yeah, I know" and then I distinctly heard them mutter, under their breath "Crazy fools."
Yup, crazy alright, seeing how fast one can haul their butt up a mountain and yet, somehow, in some peculiar way, it just gets in your blood and you keep going back for more. More abuse, more memories, more thrills, chills, maybe a bit of nausea.
Since I'm the "retread" on this 2014 edition of the Gold and Purple Nation (I was on the 2012 team) I feel compelled to share some advice. Isn't that what "veterans" are supposed to do? My regular running partner likes to tell the story (I've heard it at least 3 times) of a father and son from out of state that he encountered while picking up his packet for the Ascent. My friend inquired as to whether or not they had run Ruxton yet. "What's that?," they replied. He told them, that if nothing else, they should at least walk that part of the course and take a look at it.
I wholeheartedly concur. You should start running up Ruxton Avenue on a fairly regular basis. Start near the Manitou Police station, roughly the starting point for the Ascent and Marathon. Run up Ruxton as far as you can, past Hydro Street and up as far as where the spur trail is now closed. An alternative would be to run up into the Barr Parking lot, maybe even up the Barr Trail….each time going a little bit father up the Barr. If nothing else you should at least run this opening section of the race as far as the Cog Railway station. You need to get to know this little section intimately because it is a cruel way to start a race…and that's not just MY opinion.
As with any running event, adrenaline is coursing through veins at the start and participants of the Ascent jauntily jog and skip up Manitou Avenue and then on to the turn up Ruxton. At this turn you will see many Holy Cows! as in omigod, what have I gotten myself into. At that turn, some people are already walking, some maybe even tempted to head in to the Loop for a margarita.
Get to know Ruxton, you'll be glad you did. Someone recently said to me that how well one does in this stretch is a good indicator of how the rest of your day will go. If you're hurting by the time you get to the spur trail, that's not a good sign. More pearls of wisdom to come in the next installment. Looking forward to meeting my new teammates and to them I say "Exclesior!"