Thursday, June 30, 2011

Run Pikes Peak Marathon and get paid $1000?

Yes, it's true. If I can finish the Pikes Peak Marathon ("PPM") I can make $1000.

Here's the story...

My nephew (who same remain nameless to protect the stupid) is a very good athlete, specializing in nordic skiing as well as running, gymnastics, biking, hiking, etc.. He's qualified for the junior winter Olympics Nordic  competition for the last two years and finished mid-pack. He's in high school and does very well...normally very of his class kinda kid.

Apparently, one evening his family was discussing the PPM around the dinner table and when my sister in law mentioned that I might consider this race someday, said nephew couldn't help himself from saying some stupid things about "old people". .....grrrrrowl...hissss.

Others pushed back and Mr. Smarty Pants nephew announced that he would pay me $1000 if I could finish that race. Everybody heard him say it..I have witnesses. A LOUDER grrrrowl...hiissss!

This kid has $1000. He's had a really good summer job the last two summers...he knows how to save his money even if his judgement of other people sucks.

The PPM is a very difficult race. But I think my nephew's arrogant mistake is saying that I can't even FINISH the race. The cutoff for this race is 6h 40m to the summit and 10 hours overall.

Recall that I covered 31 miles on a trail ultra with 4000' of up and 6000' of down in 7:50, which very little trail or hill training beforehand. 

PPM starts at about 6000' and climbs at a steady 11% to 14,000. Call it 9000' of climbing and descent...I would need to average 2.7 mph for 10 hours.

Checking the race results for the PPM, I found some other finishers that came in under the limit that had typical googleable marathon results in the high 4 hour/ 5 hour time frame. These times are slower than I am. These people didn't live at high altitude (e.g. live in texas not locally).

Therefore, I believe that if I trained for altitude (which would take some time, granted) and trained on trails and hills (specific training),  this would be doable. Not easy but doable.

I should mention there is no time limit..i.e. there's no mention of doing it this year or next year or in 5 years. So I have plenty of time to train...of course if I wait I'd be OLDER.

What would you do? 

Should I make this happen and take his money? You can bet I'd get the money in escrow first.


  1. Hahaha. Did you see my name when you googled "old farts running Pikes Peak"??? I ran it a couple times and it's a very humbling experience. Physically one of the most difficult things I've ever done - but way more rewarding than most marathons!!

    I think you should go for it!!! Most people walk it and still make the cut-off. My friend who lives in NY comes out every year and does the "doubler" and does great - and he's not at altitude.

    I got a call the other day from my friend, John (2 slow for Boston blog) and he is doing it and he lives in Kansas. So yea, you are IN!

    I am actually signed up this year to do it but 99.9% sure I will not run the spot is yours if you wanna go after that grand this year!!! :)

  2. Interesting post!

    That marathon sounds intense! Do you know if they have aid stations throughout the course? If you don't have to carry a pack I think you can make it. If you have to carry a pack, then I think it will be tough to make the cutoff time.

    I did a Clouds Rest hike in Yosemite last year - somewhat similar to the Pikes Peak marathon - starts at 4K feet, climbs to 10K feet. Total roundtrip mileage about 22 miles. It took us about 12 hours to complete it. Though we did take breaks, and we were also carrying 20 lb packs or so.

    14000 peak elevation is really high, at that altitude the thin air will likely start to affect you if you aren't used to it. When I was hiking at 10K feet I definitely even noticed it. You likely would need to do some hiking training to get used to it. For the marathon, I would basically treat it like a 26 mile hike, with maybe only some running on the flat parts of the trail on the way down.

    So in the end, I think you can do it if you don't have to carry a pack and if you do some hiking training. Good luck!

  3. Go for it! If you need a place to stay let me know. I have an extra room.

  4. I'm on the 'go for it side' especially given Jill's comments above.

  5. @nelly: Yes, of course there are aid stations! It's a bona fide marathon.

    Yes, 14k will be tough..I think I would really want to get used to it by spending 3-4 days at altitude point in suffering more than you have to!

  6. I hiked it last year. My friend I stayed with swore you have a few days "free" where the high altitude doesn't effect you. I had no problems when I hiked it and hadn't even been there 24 hours.
    Second blog in a row about the Marathon. Well the last one was just the ascent I think. I don't really mean Just in the usual way.

  7. Absolutely go for it.
    Can you imagine how inspiring it could be for the nephew and of course you get to say "Take that!"

  8. I'd get it in writing with witnesses and signatures.


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