Press release from ATRA corporate member Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon.
MANITOU SPRINGS – When you think of Colorado Springs history, it all begins with Pikes Peak; and for 60 years the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon has helped define the mountain and what it means to the citizens of the Pikes Peak Region.
“I think the Pikes Peak Marathon says something about us, about our history,” said Leah David Witherow, curator of history at the Pioneers Museum. “How it started so casually, runners would drink water from the creek. It was so primitive, and today it draws people from all over the world.”
Recognizing the historical significance of the race, the Pioneers Museum will introduce its new Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon exhibit on Saturday, Aug. 13. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The exhibit will be displayed through January.
The race began in 1956 when Dr. Arne Suominen of Florida, concerned about the dangers of smoking, challenge smokers to a race to the summit of Pikes Peak and back. Thirteen runners, including three smokers toed the line that year. Bodybuilder Monte Wolford won the race – none of the smokers finished – and the event has grown to become internationally famous.
“We are honored that the Pioneers Museum is having an exhibit featuring the 60-year history of the Pikes Peak Marathon,” says Ron Ilgen, President of Pikes Peak Marathon, Inc. “The Pikes Peak area is rich in history, with the marathon exemplifying the adventurous pioneer spirit of the area that lives on today.”
Two famous figures among many will be featured in the exhibit: Arlene Pieper, who in 1959 completed the Pikes Peak marathon and became the first woman in the U.S. – and perhaps the world – to officially finish a marathon; and Matt Carpenter, the 12-time winner of the marathon. Carpenter set the Pikes Peak Ascent record of 2 hours, 1 minute, 6 seconds, and the marathon record (3:16:39) in 1993.
The museum exhibit opening kicks off race week. The second Pikes Peak Run Fest begins at 5 p.m. Thursday at Alamo Square Park, 215 S. Tejon (Pioneers Museum.) The event is free and everyone is invited. Run Fest plans call for live music by the Austin Young Band, plus a selection of local craft beers, food vendors and exhibits by running organizations, companies and stores.
The Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon Expo begins at 9 a.m. Friday, Aug, 19, at Memorial Park in Manitou Springs. The Pikes Peak Ascent, with 1,800 runners, begins at 7 a.m. Saturday (Aug. 20) in Manitou Springs. The marathon, with a field of 800, starts at 7 a.m. Sunday (Aug. 21.).