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The 2013 PikesPeakSports.us Triple Crown Runners team page

PikesPeakSports.us and the Triple Crown of Running are proud to introduce the 2013 PikesPeakSports.us Triple Crown Runners racing team. The team includes runners of various abilities chosen from a list of about 60 applicants.

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. 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'll provide photos and even some video interviews as we roll through the summer season. Special thanks to Cary Vogrin at the westside Papa Murphy's Take 'N' Bake Pizza for supporting the team. Click the ad at right for a special deal.

 

 

The 2013 Team

Ryan Johnson, 31, Chemistry teacher-in-training at UCCS and bartender at Blondie's Nightclub.

Blog posts: Sore legs and new friends ** C'mon Daddy, Let's Go! ** Keeping it interesting

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started?
I started running when I was a kid, until my teenage growth spurt turned my knees into a couple of over-stretched rubber bands and a dislocation made me quit.  After college, in my early 20's, I fell in love with triathlons and the Manitou Incline, and both of these lead me to start running again, strengthening my knees and becoming an avid trail-runner.  (Moving back to the westside of Colorado Springs didn't hurt, either!) 

Tell us about your best running experience.
As perverse as it might sound, my best running experience is likely also my worst. I was racing in the Fat Tire Triathlon near Fort Collins' Horsetooth Reservoir in 2009, which was a tough off-road sprint-plus distance race.  A ~1000-meter swim in the reservoir which started by getting kicked in the face during the mass start, followed by a grueling 20K single-track bike ride in which I crashed right into a patch of cactus (I think I still have some of those damn spines imbedded in my leg.) Needless to say, by the time I reached the running portion, I was feeling pretty beat down, only compounded to realize the run course lead us straight up the side of a mountain, with around 1,000 feet elevation gain within the first two miles. I had nearly reached the top of the course, having had to massage out a few leg cramps along the way, when I felt the unpleasant need to retch up the sport gel, fruit and bagel I'd had before the race.  As I'm puking my guts out on the side of the trail, this tiny dude runs up to me, pats me on the back, shouts "Lighten the load, man!" and gives me a thumb's up.  At the moment, I wanted to tell him exactly where he could stick his thumb's up, but wiped my face off and started along the trail.  Once I crested the top of the course and headed down the mountain for the remaining three miles, I was feeling fantastic!  Maybe it was because of the downhill, but by the time I reached the home stretch by the reservoir, I felt like I could've taken on any Olympian that was thrown at me, and crossing the finish line (and later, finding out that I'd still finished in the top third of my age group!) was probably the best feeling I'd ever had finishing a race!

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series?
I've always wanted to run the Pikes
Peak Ascent, having climbed and hiked the Peak over 15 times, and being a regular on Barr Trail and the Incline.  When I decided this was the year to do it, I thought 'might as well go all out and do the Series!'

Why do you run?
In addition to it being great training for triathlons and climbing 14ers,
another passion of mine, I run because there are few other activities that require such focus and mental fortitude, and yet provide such clarity and spiritual cleansing for me.  Tough day?  Stressed out?  Frustrated about whatever?  Give me 10 miles on a beautiful Front Range trail, and everything gains perspective.

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why?
I've spent a
majority of this year lamenting the loss of my favorite trail to run, Waldo Canyon, but it's  forced me to branch out and find some new favorites. Nowadays, you can find me on Section 16, Intemann Trail, Red Rocks, or Ute Valley Park.

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do?
My favorite thing to do is spend
time with my 6-year-old daughter, Fiona, who is always up for hitting the trail with me. I also am an avid rock climber, peak bagger, and musician/piano teacher.

 

Megan Kunkel, 20, Sophomore Biomedical Sciences student at Colorado State University

Blog posts: Surprises ** Freedom **Pre-race report: Garden of the Gods 10 Mile ** Roller Coaster ** You know you're in Alaska when... ** Simply Pure Fun, Summer Roundup Trail Run** Push through the pain** It's Taper Time

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started?
I have been a consistent runner for about four years. Before then, it was completely random, whether I felt enough motivation, or was bribed enough by my mom to go running with her. I say four years because it was really after I did the Pikes Peak Ascent in 2009 that I realized I like running (while training for the Ascent, I absolutely hated it and had vowed to myself multiple times to never run Pikes Peak again. And then when I got to the top, whether it was a hypoxic brain or the wonderful adrenaline from summiting Pikes Peak for the first time that made me decide I had to do the Marathon the next year. So from that point in 2009, I’ve been a pretty consistent runner.

Tell us about your best running experience.
Definitely a difficult question. I just love running Pikes Peak so much, love the atmosphere of the Pikes Peak races, and unlike my first year, have come to love the training ... except that darn sprint work. I’d say my best one was likely last year’s marathon. It was the first race in a long time I had allowed myself to just relax and see what I could do. I had pushed hard for the Ascent the day before, gotten a PR time with some side stitch issues throughout the race, so I started out the Marathon easy, just enjoying the fun atmosphere and people that perpetuate the Pikes Peak races every year. To my surprise, I felt full of energy and by Barr Camp was beating my Ascent day Barr Camp time by three minutes, I believe. Knowing that altitude may affect my energy more, I decided to relax my pace and talk with some fellow racers and enjoy the beautiful day. By the end of the race, I was hurting but trying as hard as I could to beat my Marathon time from last year without doubling, and was incredibly thrilled by those green numbers I saw when I crossed the finish line.

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series?
A large motivating factor was that I have a cousin that comes out from Minnesota every year for
TCR, and he had run them at least two years before last year (my first year running the full Triple Crown). So my family and I got to thinking: We live in Colorado Springs – how can we let our out-of-state relative upstage us in a local race series, especially when we already do at least one each year? So my family and I did it last year, and each race was a ton of fun, so we’re continuing the tradition.

Why do you run?
Running is a huge stress relief, where I find myself each day and can take a break from everything else. I also love the feeling of accomplishment after completing a hard workout or finishing in a time I never would have expected; I love the surprises of running.

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why?
I love Barr Trail – especially above the Incline junction on up to Barr Camp and A-Frame. It can be such a peaceful and quiet part of the trail, a time when you can really lose yourself to running and just enjoy the moment. At the same time, I love the challenge of the increasing altitude and incline the trail presents.

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do?
Well that’s the majority of my life at the moment, especially with the glorious Organic Chemistry. But other than running and school, I love to hike and ski with my family and spend time with friends, and just generally be outdoors.

 

Kristy Milligan, 34, Executive Director, Citizens Project

Blog posts: Rebranding myself for a new challenge ** On Falling Apart ** Hooray, Bronchitis ** Eek! The Peak!  ** Common Ground ** Quito Race Recap: Izquierda o derecha? ** Ready or not!

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started?
I've been running for six years.  I adopted a dog and quit smoking in the same week - what started as long walks with the pooch became jogs, and those jogs became runs. Now I can't imagine my life without running.

Tell us about your best running experience.
I've run in a lot of beautiful places with a lot of amazing people. I've set PRs and I've slogged through races that inexplicably fell apart. No running experience, however, has ever been more powerful than my first run after an injury-induced hiatus. My doctor cleared me for ten minutes, and in those ten minutes, I remembered everything I love about running: the beauty of the outdoors, the buoyancy of the human spirit, the incredible things the body is capable of doing.

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series?
I've never been a serious hill runner, and my training philosophy (do what you want, when you want) precludes my being a serious competitor in a hilly race. Nevertheless, I've always admired Triple Crown runners, and I've run and volunteered at a fistful of the races over the years and I know them to be the among best-organized and most beautiful races on the front range. A friend suggested that I consider the series this year, and - given my new age bracket - it took little coaxing.

Why do you run?
Running, for me, is the ultimate exercise in joy. Some days, I take my iPod and connect with music or podcasts. Other days, I spend my time on the trail admiring the beauty of the region, connecting with friends, or solving complex problems. Whatever the focus is on a particular day, the run itself brings me so much peace that on more than one occasion, a colleague has cast me out of the office to go for a run so I can return relaxed and focused.

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why?
What I love most about running in the Pikes Peak region is the variety - it's hard to pick just one trail or network of trails. However, I think the most under-appreciated and under-utilized area is the Greenway south of Circle into Fountain. This trail always makes my soul sing.

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do?
I love to read & write, and I enjoy spending time with my family and my dog and cat, Butters & The Coo.

 

Dave Mulligan, 52, The MITRE Corporation, Systems Engineer

Blog posts: And so it begins ... or "Usual Suspects" Part Deux ** Are we lucky or what?! ** Why do you run? ** Guilty Run ** Summer Roundup is here! ** What a great week! ** XTERRA Colorado Series Concludes ** Mt. Washington ** To t aper or not to Taper **

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started?
I’ve been running about nine years now.  I did run some prior to that, just not very much.  I ran just enough to pass my Air Force physical fitness test every year, a whooping mile and a half if you really consider that a test.  When I found out I was being sent to school in Dayton, Ohio, in 2004, I decided to run the Air Force Marathon at the young age of 43.  I was hooked!  Since then, I have run a couple marathons a year including the Pikes Peak Marathon, American Discovery Trail, Boston, Marine Corps, St. George, Big Sur International, Denver, the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World (half and full marathon), and the TransRockies Run.

Tell us about your best running experience.
My best running experience had to be the TransRockies Run last year.  It was an amazing event and very well organized.  I knew the running community was tight, but the camaraderie amongst the runners was unbelievable.  And what's not to love with the beautiful scenery along the trails between Buena Vista and Beaver Creek!  It was also one of the toughest running challenges I’ve ever undertaken.  I had an awesome teammate, Susie, and we finished in third overall in the 80-plus mixed division by just over a minute. And that was after six days and 124 miles of running that included over 20,000 feet of climbing.

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series?
I’ve run the Triple Crown once before and have done the Garden of the Gods 10 Mile and Pikes Peak Marathon a couple more times.  Running in the Garden has always been one of my favorite spots for an early morning run, whether on the road or the trails.  So if I'm going to do the Peak, I have to include the Garden run.  The Summer Roundup is a bonus.  I have a love-hate relationship with High Drive.

Why do you run?
I run for a couple reasons.  The main reason I run is the peace of mind and release it provides.  And although I don’t consider myself a competitive runner, I am somewhat competitive.  I grew up playing competitive team sports and always enjoyed that competition. Running allows me to continue to compete, but these days it’s mostly with myself.

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why?
Perhaps my favorite place was Waldo Canyon.  In fact, we ran Waldo on that weekend before the fire.  Waldo provided that little escape from the city but wasn’t too far either.  It was a good distance, provide some good climbing that was runnable, and was such a beautiful canyon. These days my “go-to” trail is probably Falcon Trail on the Air Force Academy.  Love the single track and the rolling hills, especially the back section along the mountains.

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do?
I do like to golf.  Should be a given with the name I guess.  I definitely haven’t gotten out as much as I’d like these past few years because of the training.  This year I do hope to get out for a few more rounds of golf with my son, Kevin.  I'm also looking forward to running a 5K with my daughter Caitie this summer, her first!

 

Vanessa Shawver, 40, Odyssey Systems (Schriever AFB), Plans & Policy Analyst

Blog posts: Where's my tiara? ** Dandelion Bouquets ** My Motley Crew of Inspiration ** A Maverick's view of success ** Don't be a Lumberjack ** Kiss and Make up ** Charge the Hill ** Simply Thanks ** Trophies and combat rolls ** No more trespassing! ** Beaver Creek Half Marathon Review

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started?
I have been running for 21 years and got started when my father insisted I attend the US Army Airborne School as an ROTC cadet. He promised my college instructors that if they gave me a school slot at the end of the summer,  I would be fit enough to complete the course.  He made me run EVERY DAY that summer and the only days I considered successful were the ones where I didn't either throw up or hyperventilate before I got back home.

Tell us about your best running experience.
My favorite running experience was the Bolder Boulder 10K with my Moms In Motion women's team that I used to coach. I've found that the most rewarding part of fitness is sparking genuine confidence and inspiration in the minds of those who thought they could never accomplish anything of the kind. It far outshines any achievement I could attain on my own.

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series?
All of my goofy running friends seem to have done it and I'm tired of looking like a slacker!  Plus, as a newlywed, I think it was in the fine print that I have to do this within the first six years of marriage.  Since our first anniversary is next week, I figured I might as well get that requirement out of the way so I can go back to being fat and lazy for another five years.

Why do you run?
I ask myself this question all the time. Running is like that crazy uncle that you're not sure you really like, but you can't seem to let go of anyhow. I have run for various reasons at different times in my life.  It started as a way to earn a military scholarship, then it became a way to gain respect in a career that was entirely dominated by men.  It was a way to regain my body after three pregnancies and continues to be a way to regain my mind on days when those pre-teen ankle biters tramp all over my last nerve. I have run to escape relationships and I've run to keep them together. Today, I am happier than ever with running -- even though I'm much slower than I used to be and my knees now insist on more off days than I'd like. All history aside, these days I run for much simpler reasons.  In essence, I've learned over the years to appreciate really good beer -- but unfortunately, so do my middle-aged hips.  Therefore, I run.

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why?
I really love Garden of the Gods for the scenery on both the road and trails.  However, I am a Georgia girl, so I am totally a warm weather runner only.  This means in the winter, my favorite running place is my warm, trusty treadmill.  I know most people hate it, but for me, it is my yoga.  I just tune out the world and run.

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do?
I really do enjoy just hanging out with my husband and kiddos since they are the coolest people I know.  I love to take trips in our RV and explore all the great places that the world has to offer. I enjoy swimming, thrift shopping, reading non-fiction books, writing and especially paying my kids back for all those awkward moments like when they loudly commented on someone's weight in the middle of Water World.

 

Jon Teisher (But nobody knows me by that name.  JT is fine.  Most folks call me by names that aren't suitable for PikesPeakSports.us)

Age: 37 (38 by Pikes weekend. I think people start dying of old age at this point.)

Occupation: Elite athlete coordinator for the Incline Beer Mile.

Blog Posts: Catching up ** Jemez ** Hardrock Splits ** Hardrock 2013

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started?
Joined the cross-country team my freshman year of high school. That was the year running was invented.

Tell us about your best running experience.
When a buddy and I set the FKT for the 4 Pass/4 Beers loop up near Aspen.

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series?
I can jog to the start of all the races from my house.  Plus, Tim brings free coffee.

Why do you run?
To keep from feeling and acting my age.

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why?
Red Rock Canyon!  Unless it's Bristol Brewing's Cheyenne Canon Ale season.  There's something cool about running on trails and then drinking a beer named after those trails.

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do?
I maintain the area's largest collection of growlers from Colorado breweries.

 

Melvin “Mel” Watson, 44, Schriever AFB Project Manager

Blog posts: The Effects of Overtraining ** Overtraining Part II ** Preparing for the Summer Roundup Trail Run **  Allergies...Smallergies ** Pain does not descriminate

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started?
I have been a runner for 43 years, so as soon as I began to walk I was running. I was always racing in the school yard during recess in Brooklyn, N.Y. I ran competitively in middle school, high school and then college. Out of six siblings I was the slowest - even the youngest brother was faster than I was. Being next to the youngest made me very competitive. I really got fast by avoiding bullies and fights growing up. Not that I could not fight, I just thought it would be easier to run away than to give someone a bloody lip or even get one myself.

Tell us about your best running experience.
My best running experience was running in the 1999 NYC 5th Avenue Mile Elite. I placed last, then the next year, 2000, I did not bother asking to get in the elite section and ran the fastest open section and finished first. In 1999 I was nursing a bad hamstring tear and my training was going well. Not saying I would have ran a sub 4:00, but the potential was there.

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series?
I’ve lived along the Front Range for 18-plus years, many people that know I run are always asking me have I ever done the Triple Crown of Running Series or the Pikes Peak Ascent Marathon, so I finally signed up for the Ascent. Also, my awesome running friends; Julie Chagnon and Gerald Romero inspired me.

Why do you run?
I run because I was born to. It is riveting to me. I have met so many people via running and competing.

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why?
Weird but I love running this 4 mile loop at Schriever AFB….I have been running on this base since 1997 either in the morning, at lunch and even after work. That paved loop and I have some history.

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do?
Prepping for my next workout, taking care of family, watching sports, grilling, barbecuing and applewood smoke a large piece of salmon from Costco with north African Spices…..yum. Listening to music playing the drums, learning the keys, reading, mountain biking, watching my son play sports and hanging out with my wife.

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