Right now I should be reaching the summit of Pikes Peak. Instead, I’m here, writing a blog post thanks to one feisty calf muscle that prevented me from running Pikes Peak Marathon this year, my all-time favorite race.
I’ve run Pikes every year since 2009—the Ascent twice and the Marathon four times—and I always look forward to it.
Truth be told, even days leading up to this year’s race I thought, “maybe I can still do it? Maybe I should do it? I can do it!” Runners tend to be a little, how do you say it? Crazy. However, I knew that if I tempted fate and headed to Colorado, I’d risk re-injuring any improvement I’ve made over the last two weeks. It takes courage to admit that you’re injured—and even more not to run. This doesn’t come easy for most runners.
Over the years I’m often asked what makes this race special and the answer is probably different for every Pikes veteran. Since I can’t run Pikes this year, I thought I’d reflect on what has made it special for me over the years. So, in no particular order here’s a few of my favorite memories:
- Meeting Gina at the 2009 Pikes Peak Ascent. We bonded over cheese. Yes, Cheese.
- Inhaling salt and vinegar potato chips at the summit in 2013. Just the fuel I needed to turn around and head back to where I came from.
- PR’ing in the marathon last year.
- Helping my fellow runner, Larry, after he had a bad fall near the summit in 2012 (he survived!).
- The kazoo of encouragement near the end of the race, beckoning us home.
- Driving the very steep and winding road to the summit in 2011 to greet Gina when she finished the Ascent. Never again (I made her drive down).
- Red grapes at Barr Camp. Best aid station food. Ever.
- Post race beer.
- The annual wristband photo (thanks, Gina).
- Calling my work buddies, Dave and Dustin, after my failed attempted at the 2008 Ascent (an unexpected snowstorm at the summit required most runners turn around at mile 10). They were still proud of me.
- Ramon. Oh Ramon.
- Shedding tears of joy as I reach the summit. Happens every year.
- The feeling of empowerment and pure bliss when I cross the finish line.
Even though I’m not running Pikes this year, it was important for me to still give back to the race community as part of the Small Change initiative. It’s the 60th year of Pikes so I knew I had to choose a special nonprofit to support and I selected Safe Place for Pets, an organization that finds forever homes for pets of terminally ill people.
Best of luck today to everyone running the marathon—I’ll see you next year.
Have you run Pikes before? What makes it special for you?