Saturday, August 16, 2008

Current and former team members race at Pikes Peask Ascent

At today's Pikes Peak Ascent (an all uphill climb of more than 7,800 feet in 13+ miles), Simon Gutierrez, 42, Alamosa (Teva athlete and team member) was victorious in just over 2:18. He beat former Teva US Mountain Running Team Member Tim Parr (2004) by about one minute. Third place was 2007 team member Payton Batliner. Newcomer to the team this year Zach Freudenberg raced in third for the first portion of the race and fell to 11th place by the summit.
For the women, first-time Teva US Mountain Running Team member Brandy Erholtz, 30, won by nearly 10 minutes (timed in 2:41) over two-time ('97 and '06) team member Lisa Goldsmith who raced to a 2:51. Fourth place was five-time team member Anita Ortiz in just under 2:54 followed three minutes later by 2000 team member Cindy O'Neill.
The weather was "epic," according to multi-time finisher Doug Laufer (who runs under the moniker Rufus T. Firefly), "It was so cold and wet. I had trouble getting my gloves off and switch to a dry pair at A-Frame (3 miles from the summit) Now I'm going home to rest and get ready for tomorrow." Laufer does the double -- the Ascent on Saturday and the round trip Marathon on Sunday.
Former Teva US Mountain Running Team member Kevin Tilton made a good showing to the A-Frame running just out of the top ten (in fact he was in eighth place just below Barr Camp -- the halfway point in terms of mileage) , but turned around and he said after the race, "A good 20 mile run. It was just cold up there." Tilton raced in a singlet and shorts and when he reached A-Frame the altitude was giving him a little trouble, but more so the weather.
In fact, more than 1/2 of the field was turned around by 10:30a.m. if they didn't reach the A-Frame. When Ortiz reached the A-frame officials wanted her to turn back, but she pressed on. "After I finished my teeth were chattering for about an hour!" said Ortiz, "It was so cold." James Kahkoska, 48, a Colorado Springs local talked about the weather and although he had his PR on the mountain today (roughly 2:51), he said an official had to help him take his gloves off at the finish line so he could change into warm and dry clothes before he took the shuttle back to Manitou.
Vans and buses transport the runners off the mountain, but weather conditions made wait times longer for the athletes. Snow plows were on the mountain shoveling in front of vans -- some of which got stuck going uphill. The toll road was closed to tourists for much of the day.
Tomorrow is the full marathon, providing the weather doesn't turn much worse.
A good day today for our team members - past and present!

1 comment:

Zac said...

For a Computer Science PhD student I have a very unimpressive cyber presence. Thus, this is my first time blogging. I have really enjoyed reading the team updates and I felt I should add my two cents. As Paul noted, the conditions of the Pikes Peak Accent got the better of a lot of runners. I include myself in that category. I started with Simon and settled into my own pace once we hit the trail and started climbing. I felt I was climbing strong and was not too worried about dropping back to third by the top of the Ws (as the first set of switchbacks are called). I held that position until about mile 9 when Payton Batliner passed me looking strong. I then started to get the feeling that the last three miles above the tree line were going to be a struggle again. Two years ago in the marathon I battled through this section and dropped back to forth but was able to get back into third on the decent. This year I knew there would be no decent and was determined to keep a slow jog going to the top. Unfortunately the altitude again forced me into power hiking mode for long sections of the last two miles and slowing the pace and entering the ice, snow, and wind cooled me off in a hurry. I was power stumbling by the finish line and dropped three more places to 7th. The last guy went by me in the last twenty feet and looking back at the results, 4 more guys probably would have passed my if the race had been a quarter mile longer. It is never a good feeling to fall apart in the last two miles of a race, but my accent time was almost exactly the same as two years ago and given the conditions I can't be too disappointed. It took a good half hour for me to stop shaking, but looking around I was in the same boat as everyone who made it to the top. I think the combination of getting rained on the majority of the race and then hitting the snow and 26 degree temperatures at the top made it almost impossible to avoid at least a mild case of hypothermia. The next morning I was feeling much better about things and my legs were up for the famed incline that I have been wanting to run for three years now. I was happy with covering the 2011 ft. 1.02 mile climb in 23:15. From the top I met up with the marathon coarse in time to cheer on most of the runners. It was obvious that lessons had been learned from the day before and many runners were carrying packs with dry cloths for above the tree line. I missed seeing Matt fly by, but I after the field passed I ran down the Ws and made it up the incline a second time in time to see Matt fly by on his way down the mountain. To make the most of my weekend at altitude I was out the door at 3 am Monday morning to get one last climb in. I lucked out and the sky was clear with a near full moon allowing me to run the incline one last time. In order to make it back in time to get in the vans for the 14 hour drive home I stopped where the incline brushes up against Barr trail. Before descending the Ws one last time I stopped and took in the site of the great plains under a full moon. It has been a long time since I have been able to sit in total silence like that. I started to think a bit about bobcats and bears on the way down as I dodged rocks and shadows until I passed an old man walking his two dogs up the trail. When I asked if he was going to the top he said he was just out to walk his dogs like he does every day. I guess 3:30 am is as good as time as any to walk your dogs up a mountain. I figured that there must not be many hungry animals out since the dogs didn't look worried and I fully enjoy the peace of early on the trail the rest of the way down. All in all I figure I got a great weekend of training in and am looking forward to my last long week of stairs and treadmill workouts here in the St. Louis humidity before I start to taper my mileage for Switzerland. I am looking forward to getting back to the mountains.