On April 1st, 2012 I decided to act a fool. The most foolish thing I could think of, in running related terms, was to try to summit Pikes Peak. In most years I wouldn’t even consider this run until the middle of summer, but fortunately for me 2012 has been a very dry year. If you’ve read my previous posts, you would know just how dry the Pikes Peak region trails have been.
I’ve signed up for the Pikes Peak Marathon this year, which I think is a good idea. In order to get a jump start on training for the Peak I tried to follow the marathon course on this long run. For those of you who don’t know, the Pikes Peak Marathon course is pretty much just an out and back to the 14115 foot summit, starting from memorial park and ending right by the Mate Factor on Manitou Ave. Here’s my route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/163958451. Once again I had a bit of an issue with my Garmin loosing signal, so the distance isn’t quite right.
Barr trail might be one of the most popular trails in the area, but for most people it’s only the way to get down off the incline. For that reason starting at 11 am on a Sunday morning might not have been the best idea. Sure I got some great views and amazing weather, but I also got some not so great views (namely JT).
After weaving my way through the W’s I got a bit of relief on the first few flat sections of the trail. I also like to take my first gel during this section. It’s a nice place to take in the view of Cameron’s Cone and the first few brief glimpses of the summit.
After getting past No Name creek and the little steep section just beyond it I was treated to some more flat areas before arriving at Barr camp. Even up until this point there was no noticeable snow.
After Barr camp I was greeted by the first sections of snow on the trail. The three miles after Barr camp are always my least favorite.
I’m not sure why, but they are. And this time I had to deal with long stretches of snow, luckily the warm weather has given them a nice soft crust to run on. It didn’t really slow me down too much.
After climbing out of the dreaded final tree section my view of top was a sight for sore eyes. It also proved to be much less snow filled, at least for the first mile above timberline.
Once I passed the 2 miles to go sign, things got a lot slower. This picture gives you a good idea of what the trail was like. It was about 50/50 runable trail versus shin slicing post holing. I managed to move along fairly quick, but any time I hit the post holing sections I was forced to walk.
I kept on going despite my slowness. The last mile was especially treacherous, with the 16 Golden Stairs turning into a kind of ice staircase.
I made it! It’s always great to make a quick stop to get some more water, or donuts if you’r so inclined, and take in the surroundings. At least it’s fun until the next train full of people shows up.
The way back down was much of the same, except faster. I took a few spills on the snow, but not much more then a bit of butt glissading.
By the time I got back down past the W’s and onto the pavement my quads were feeling it. I try to think of other things, like the wonderful assortment of beer I might have when I get home.
And finally, after about a 4:43 Pikes Peak marathon, I returned home. The sight of Olga, my van, has never been sweeter. It’s amazing to think that this run is even possible in a day. I am used to seeing Pikes as a part of the horizon but very rarely do I think of it as being something that I can reach the top of and return in just one day. I guess it’s just another reason why living in this part of the world is so amazing.