Mountain marathons might seem a little intimidating even to an avid adventure-seeker. Every year, however, people travel from around the world to participate in one adventure that never fails to test the preconceived notions about the limits of humanity.
The Pike’s Peak Marathon is the 3rd longest running annual marathon in the US, taking place in Manitou Springs, Colorado. The tradition, which began in 1956, entails a climb up to the top of Pike’s Peak, one of only 45 mountains in the United States with an elevation of over 14,000 feet.
This past weekend, adventure seekers from all walks of life gathered in Colorado to participate in the 59th annual race – an event some runners might come to describe as one of the most grueling feats of the year. During the first day (Saturday, August 16th), runners completed the ascent race, which entails a challenging, elevated climb of 7,800+ feet. But that’s only a warm up for the second day, when competitors were really tested with an ascent up and descent down a mountain for a combined total of over 26.2 miles and 13,000 feet in elevation.
Any race like this is a true test of courage, stamina and endurance. Swiss Dentist, Marc Lauenstein, knows firsthand. He is the winner of the 59th Annual Adventure Marathon with a final time of 3:37:21. Jason Delaney of Polson, Montana, with the next best time of 3:57:28, is the only other competitor who finished with a time under four hours – but that does not, in any way, diminish the accomplishments of our 4hr + finishers. Anita M. Ortiz of Eagle, Colorado, for example, is the women’s champion at the age of 50, finishing the race with a final time of 5:00:58. She just barely passed over Melissa A. Bay of Colorado Springs, Co. and Megan J. Kunkel of Colorado Springs, Co., who finished in second and third place respectively.
We applaud these runners for accomplishing what seems like a near impossible feat. I’ve run out of breath running around the block.
* For those willing to take part in the adventure of a life time and compete in the 2015 60th annual race, check out Pike’s Peak Marathon, to sign up.