Manitou Springs, CO -- 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 got...as 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!
Results soon at www.pikespeakmarathon.com