Distance: 25 miles
Weather: Sunny & Warm
On the road by 4:15 a.m. and running by 6:10 a.m. I parked about .06 miles up Ruxton Avenue from the official Pikes Peak Ascent/Marathon starting line. No interest in running any more of the roads than I had to. By the time I got to the area, the Barr Trail lot was full and Ruxton was filling quickly.
After a quick pit stop at the Barr Trail trailhead, I jumped onto Barr at its official starting spot, rather than heading back down to Ruxton and running the official race course. I'd never been on the first half-mile or so of Barr before. This section was just a continuation of the Ws above. The plan today was to run steady and take a few pictures along the way. There was a good amount of foot traffic coming down the Ws, presumably originating at the top of the Incline.
Looking east back down toward Manitou Springs from somewhere above No Name Creek
Pikes Peak from somewhere above No Name Creek
I made respectable, if not speedy, time through the Ws, over to No Name Creek and up to Barr Camp. One highlight was seeing a guy on a unicycle a bit below Barr Camp. The thing was equipped with a beefy mountain bike-type tire. I didn't see him riding, since he was paused to let me and some hikers go by. Still, it was quite a sight.
I was a bit worried that my wheels were coming off post-Barr Camp, but I pulled it together at the three-mile sign and ran pretty well up to the 16 Golden Stairs. Along the way, I was stopping to take pictures of all the key landmarks (Barr Camp, A-Frame, Three- Two- and One-to-go signs, etc...). Somehow I ran right past the one-mile sign without seeing it. I kept thinking that it was taking forever to run from three- to two-to-go. Before I knew It, there was the sign for the 16 Golden Stairs - the last stretch before the summit.
After making my way through the Stairs, I cruised to the finish area and clicked the watch - 3:02. No idea what to make of the time given where I started, early course deviation and stopping to take pictures. Still, it felt like a solid effort.
Sign at the summit next to the Cog Railway tracks
After chatting with a few Cog Railway riders interested in how long it took me to run up, I headed into the visitors' center to refill the hydration pack. The place was packed with gift-buying masses. I couldn't wait to get out of there.
Just as I started heading down, the Garmin beeped - low battery warning. I only got 3:36 out of a fully-charged battery. Not good. I may need to send it in for a new battery. Frustrating.
I've never run down Pikes before, having only run the Ascent. I figured I'd be in for some hurtin', and I was.
I took it relatively easy down from the summit, just focusing on not tripping (I never fell) and taking lines that would protect my quads as much as possible. Right around the Cirque sign, I passed Matt Carpenter heading up. He had a steely look of determination on his face as he flew by me. The look immediately reminded me of the look Lance Armstrong had on his face during a few of the mountain stage breakaways when he was in his prime. There will be some fast guys challenging Matt next month. I wonder if he's been thinking about 'em...
The rest of the descent was pretty uneventful. Just a lot of cruising, 3-4 stops along the way to dunk my hat in cold creeks and a whole bunch of "thank yous" to people stepping out of the way to let me by.
By the time I hit the Ws, my quads were hurting and I was eager to be done. This time I followed the course down Ruxton back to the car. The descent took me 2:05.
Once back home, I spent the day pretty much laying around watching the Tour de France. Just didn't feel like doing much else. The run wore my ass out. Made me wonder why in the hell I signed up for both the Ascent and the Marathon. Seemed like a good at the time...and it probably will seem like a good idea tomorrow. Today, though...no so much.
Elevation gain: 7,639.