The American Trail Running Association’s Nancy Hobbs, Tayte Pollmann and Peter Maksimow attended all the Pikes Peak race weekend festivities and contributed to the following story.
The 63rd Pikes Peak Marathon, the fourth Golden Trail Series race supported by ATRA member Salomon, and Pikes Peak Ascent took place in the small mountain town of Manitou Springs on August 18 and 19. Both the Ascent and the Marathon were memorable races, but for very different reasons. Volatile weather in the area led to a shorter course for Ascent runners on Saturday, which finished at Barr Camp, located at 10,200 feet. Participants then had to walk or run nearly 8 miles back to Manitou. On Sunday, the weather cooperated and legendary records fell for both the men and women in the Marathon.
The Ascent took place on the morning of Saturday August 18, and daunting clouds threatened possible lightning storms and hail. The day before the race, Manitou Springs was hit with a pounding hailstorm that destroyed trees and damaged cars. With harsh weather in Saturday’s forecast, race organizers decided to stop the Ascent at Barr Camp to protect runners. Severe storms are not new to Pikes Peak. Back in 2008, severe weather – including rain, hail and snow – during the Ascent led to many runners being turned around at A-Frame, just three miles shy of the summit. Those that made it through A-Frame were stranded at the summit for hours waiting for snowplows to clear the road for the ride back to Manitou.
The top three males of the first “half-ascent,” (just under 8 miles with 3700 feet of elevation gain on the Barr Trail) were Azera Tekay Weldemariam, 39, Eritrea (living in Colorado Springs), in first place with a time of 1:06:26, Ondrej Fejifar, 29, Czech Republic in second place, and Alex Pilcher, 33,Great Britain in third. Kim Dobson, 34, Eagle, CO was the top female in 1:15:48, second was Tess Amer,27, Boulder, CO, and third was Lauren Juliet Ayers, 28, Portland, ME.
The 2018 marathon on Sunday received the honor of being named the 4th race in the Golden Trail Series. This first-year series includes some of the most iconic and competitive trail races in the world, and helps bring international attention to the trail running scene. The mission of the series is, “To promote professional trail runners as the world-class athletes that they are.” As a result of being a part of this series, the 2018 Pikes Peak Marathon included a strong elite field and record-breaking times.
Dakota Jones, 27, was the male winner of the marathon. Jones scorched the downhill record, besting the legendary Matt Carpenter’s 1993 time of 1:15:33 by running a 1:13:53. Not only did Jones break the record, but he also biked from Silverton, CO to the race start! Jones decided to bike to and from the marathon start in Manitou Springs, CO to fundraise for the Protect Our Winters (POW) organization, a global non-profit fighting climate change via the outdoor sports community. Jones’s journey included over 600 miles of biking, 26.21 miles and 7,815 feet of vertical ascent in the marathon itself. His official time of 3:32:20 for the marathon is the 9th fastest male time ever run. Second place was Spaniard Oriol Cardona Coll, 23, and in third place Darren Beck Thomas, 24, Colorado Springs, who was the first to the top with a time of 2:17:22, just over a minute ahead of Jones.
Megan Kimmel, 38, the women’s champion, ran a record-book performance. She sprinted into the finish and set a new course record of 4:15:04, which was 12 seconds faster than the record set in 1981 by Lynn Bjorkland who was 24 at the time. Second place was Laura Orgué, 31, Spain, who is also a three-time Olympic skier and placed 10th overall in the 30 km at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Third place was Kristina Marie Mascarenas, 29, Colorado Springs, the defending marathon champion.
Between the two races, a total of $22,000 in prize money was awarded, including a $4,000 course record bonus for Kimmel. Additional, each of the top five runners in the marathon received 1000 euro from the Salomon Golden Trail Series.