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Pikes Peak Marathon facts for kids

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Pikes Peak Marathon
Date August
Location Manitou Springs, Colorado, United States
Event type Road and trail
Distance Marathon and half-marathon
Established 1956 (67 years ago) (1956)
Course records Ascent: 2:01:06 (M), 2:24:58 (F); Marathon: 3:16:39 (M), 4:02:45 (F)
Official site
Participants 606 finishers (marathon) (2020)

The Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon is a trail running competition that begins at the base of Pikes Peak, in Manitou Springs, Colorado, and climbs over 7,815 feet (2382 m) to the top of the 14,115 foot (4302 m) peak. Since 1956, the event takes place each year in late summer, with the Ascent taking place on Saturday (slightly longer than a half-marathon, at 13.3 miles), and the round-trip marathon on Sunday.


Matt Carpenter, 42, approaching the summit of Pikes Peak during the 2006 Pikes Peak Marathon. Carpenter reached the summit in 2:08:27 on his way to a 3:33:07 win in the Marathon.

On Aug. 10, 1956, Dr. Arne Suominen of Del Ray Beach, Fla., challenged smokers and nonsmokers to race up and down Pikes Peak, a 26-mile (42 km) race, in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the discovery of America's most famous mountain by Zebulon Montgomery Pike. He enlisted 58-year-old real-estate salesman and holistic-lifestyle practitioner Rudy Fahl as the race director. The 56-year-old Suominen, a Finnish former marathon champion and outspoken critic of tobacco, wanted to prove that smoking diminished one's physical endurance. Of the 13 runners that accepted the challenge, only three were smokers. Lou Wille, champion of two Pikes Peak races in the late 1930s and a two-pack-a-day smoker, was likely to be the biggest threat to Suominen's hypothesis. . . .

Although he had beaten Suominen to the summit, Wille was disqualified for not finishing the race. In fact none of the smokers completed the round trip. "I think I've proven my point," Suominen said afterwards. "I finished the race and none of the smokers did." . . .

It was widely rumored that Jecker's motivation came from an American Tobacco Association offer to reward a victorious smoker with a tidy sum of $20,000.

The Pikes Peak Marathon was the first American marathon to allow female competitors, allowing them from the beginning of the marathon in 1956, although no woman entered until 1958. In 1959, Arlene Pieper became the first woman to officially finish a marathon in the United States when she finished the Pikes Peak Marathon. Her daughter Kathie, aged 9, became the youngest competitor at that time to finish the race to the summit; however, she did not finish the whole marathon.

In 1966 a well-organized marathon was initiated, making the race the third-oldest marathon in the United States. In 1980 a good friend Rudy Faul and fellow runner Carl McDaniel took over as Race Director, he served as Director until 1998 and was named Director emeritus in 1999 until his passing on August 23, 1999 only 1 day after the race was held that year.

The Pikes Peak Ascent race has twice incorporated the World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge competition, first in 2006 then again in 2010.

The 2020 edition of the ascent was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, with all registrants given the option of either transferring their entry to 2021, obtaining a partial refund and priority registration for 2021, or obtaining a full refund. At the time the ascent was cancelled, the race directors were still hopeful that the marathon could be held, due to the limited number of runners in the marathon and the comparatively lower level of logistics required at the summit, since runners would be making their own way down the mountain. However, registered marathon runners were also given the same options as those registered for the ascent, should they choose to withdraw from the race. Eventually, the race organizers announced that the marathon would be held, with coronavirus considerations, including cancelling or paring down related events, requiring masks or other face coverings before and after the race, enforcing social distancing regulations at the start and finish, starting the runners in small waves, and eliminating some aid stations.


Because of the nature of the run (dirt trails, rock, and other natural obstacles) and the high altitude, the race is much more difficult than standard 42.195-kilometre (26.219 mi) marathons. Winning times for the marathon are typically just under four hours (compared to elite "flatland" marathon times of just over two hours). Although the average grade of the slope is 11%, some sections are much steeper because the central portion of the race is relatively flat. The initial three miles (5 km) are very steep. The central 7 miles (11 km) start as rolling terrain, but become progressively steeper toward the end. The top 3 miles (4.8 km) are above timberline and require some rock scrambling to reach the summit. Oxygen levels drop progressively as altitude rises, further compounding the uphill ordeal.

Winning race times differ significantly from year to year, often depending on weather and trail conditions. Some races have been associated with hot, dry conditions, and others have been associated with snow and cold at the top of the peak.

The race attracts hundreds of runners for both the ascent and for the round-trip. The USDA Forest Service limits the number of runners to 1,800 for the ascent and 800 for the marathon, and the race registration typically fills in one or two days.



The following table shows the official winners of the marathon. Course records are highlighted with green background.

The race was lengthened by 1.1 miles in 1976, so that 7–8 minutes must be added to the pre-1976 times for comparison purposes.

The most successful male and female athletes in the history of the marathon are Matt Carpenter, outright record holder and winner of the marathon on twelve occasions between 1988 and 2011, and Erica Larson, who has won the women's race five times. Carpenter won six times in a row in 2006–2011, as did Steve Gachupin in 1966–1970. Larson won four times in a row in 1999–2002, as did Danelle Ballengee in 1994–1997.

Year Country Man Time Country Woman Time
2020  USA Seth DeMoor 3:36:31  USA Brittany Charboneau 4:25:21
2019  ESP Kilian Jornet Burgada 3:27:28  SUI Maude Mathys 4:02:41
2018  USA Dakota Jones 3:32:21  USA Megan Kimmel 4:15:06
2017  SUI Rémi Bonnet 3:37:08  USA Kristina Marie Mascarenas 4:38:54
2016  USA Alex Nichols 3:40:29  USA Kim Dobson 4:44:44
2015  USA Alex Nichols 3:46:40  USA Hirut Guangul 4:29:06
2014  SUI Marc Lauenstein 3:37:21  USA Anita M Ortiz 5:00:54
2013  JPN Touru Miyahara 3:43:23  USA Stevie Kremer 4:17:10
2012  ESP Kilian Jornet Burgada 3:40:26  SWE Emelie Forsberg 4:28:07
2011  USA Matt Carpenter 3:48:08  USA JoAnna C Masloski 5:09:38
2010  USA Matt Carpenter 3:51:34  USA Keri A Nelson 4:34:24
2009  USA Matt Carpenter 3:37:02  USA Anita M Ortiz 4:28:20
2008  USA Matt Carpenter 3:36:54  USA Keri A Nelson 4:39:00
2007  USA Matt Carpenter 3:48:41  USA Salynda E Fleury 5:00:42
2006  USA Matt Carpenter 3:33:07  AUS Emma J Murray 4:21:09
2005  ITA Fulvio Dapit 3:58:49  FRA Corinne Favre 4:31:20
2004  USA Galen Burrell 4:00:04  USA Erica Larson 4:28:27
2003  USA Matt Carpenter 3:43:46  UK Angela Mudge 4:19:38
2002  USA Jesse T Rickert 4:10:15  USA Erica Larson 4:41:53
2001  USA Matt Carpenter 3:53:53  USA Erica Larson 4:49:10
2000  USA Stephen D Smalzel 3:54:46  USA Erica Larson 4:50:37
1999  USA Stephen D Smalzel 3:49:09  USA Erica Larson 4:46:01
1998  USA Matt Carpenter 3:44:27  USA Mariko Shirazi 4:54:34
1997  MEX Ricardo Mejía 3:30:55  USA Danelle Ballengee 4:43:46
1996  MEX Ricardo Mejía 3:29:22  USA Danelle Ballengee 4:36:52
1995  MEX Ricardo Mejía 3:21:32  USA Danelle Ballengee 4:38:55
1994  MEX Martin Rodriguez 3:35:04  USA Danelle Ballengee 4:24:38
1993  USA Matt Carpenter 3:16:39  USA Karen E Gorman 4:42:03
1992  MEX Ricardo Mejía 3:24:25  USA Jo H Gathercole 4:44:15
1991  USA Stephen D Smalzel 3:46:43  USA Deborah Wagner 4:45:59
1990  MEX Ricardo Mejía 3:35:03  USA Cylinda Engelman 4:44:18
1989  USA Matt Carpenter 3:39:26  USA Linda Quinlisk 4:41:51
1988  USA Matt Carpenter 3:38:05  USA Linda Quinlisk 4:29:59
1987  USA Sheldon A Larson 3:41:56  USA Gail Ladage Scott 4:26:59
1986  USA Stan W Fox 3:41:57  USA Margie Loyd-Allison 4:55:43
1985  USA Creighton J King 3:39:39  USA Linda Quinlisk 4:37:32
1984  USA Wesley Smith 3:39:00  USA Gail Ladage Scott 4:48:26
1983  USA Creighton J King 3:39:50  USA Margie Loyd-Allison 4:39:59
1982  USA Al Waquie 3:29:53  USA Gabrielle Andersen 4:25:13
1981  USA Al Waquie 3:26:17  USA Lynn Bjorklund 4:15:18
1980  USA Chris G Reveley 3:45:52  USA Linda Quinlisk 4:38:00
1979  USA Chris G Reveley 3:39:08  USA Sue Gladney 4:42:45
1978  USA Ken Young 3:50:44  USA Donna L Messenger 5:08:08
1977  USA Rick Trujillo 3:46:21  USA Ellen O'Connor 5:50:09
1976  USA Rick Trujillo 3:34:15  USA Donna L Messenger 5:05:40
1975  USA Rick Trujillo 3:31:05  USA Joan Ullyut 5:20:21
1974  USA Rick Trujillo 3:36:40  USA Marcia Trent 5:23:10
1973  USA Rick Trujillo 3:39:46  USA Joan Ullyut 5:28:00
1972  USA Chuck Smead 3:44:21  USA Isa C Varela 7:25:00
1971  USA Steve Gachupin 3:46:26  USA Joyce Swannack 7:07:36
1970  USA Steve Gachupin 3:45:52
1969  USA Steve Gachupin 3:44:50
1968  USA Steve Gachupin 3:39:47
1967  USA Steve Gachupin 3:58:51
1966  USA Steve Gachupin 3:57:04
1965  USA John R Rose 3:53:57
1964  USA Donald Lakin 4:03:33
1963  USA John R Rose 4:01:22
1962  USA Robert Mohler 4:10:03
1961  USA Calvin Hansen 4:07:15
1960  USA Calvin Hansen 4:14:25
1959  USA Calvin Hansen 4:20:18  USA Arlene Pieper 9:16:00
1958  USA Calvin Hansen 4:29:40
1957  USA Monte Wolford 5:15:53
1956  USA Monte Wolford 5:39:58


The following table shows the official winners of the Ascent. Course records are highlighted with green background. The men's Ascent record was set during the Marathon in 1993 by Matt Carpenter with a time of 2:01:06.

The 2018 Ascent was run on a shortened course of 7.6 miles, finishing at Barr Camp, due to inclement weather being forecast.

Year Country Man Time Country Woman Time
2020 cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic
2019  USA Joseph Gray 2:09:00  USA Kim Dobson 2:41:44
2018  ERI Azerya Tekay Weldemariam 1:06:28  USA Kim Dobson 1:15:51
2017  USA Joseph Gray 2:08:19  USA Serkalem Biset Abrha 2:42:19
2016  USA Joseph Gray 2:05:28  USA Kim Dobson 2:34:39
2015  JPN Touru Miyahara 2:15:42  USA Kim Dobson 2:40:44
2014  USA Sage Canaday 2:10:03  USA Allie McLaughlin 2:33:42
2013  USA Eric Blake 2:13:45  USA Kim Dobson 2:41:43
2012  USA Jason Delaney 2:13:18  USA Kim Dobson 2:24:58
2011  USA Mario Macias 2:08:57  USA Kim Dobson 2:34:07
2010  USA Glenn Randall 2:09:28  USA Brandy Erholtz 2:41:38
2009  USA Tim Parr 2:12:32  USA Megan Kimmel 2:40:16
2008  USA Simon Gutierrez 2:18:09  USA Brandy Erholtz 2:41:26
2007  USA Matt Carpenter 2:12:56  USA Maria Portilla 2:35:46
2006  USA Simon Gutierrez 2:18:06  USA Lisa Goldsmith 2:46:07
2005  USA Ryan Hafer 2:21:30  USA Lisa Goldsmith 2:50:02
2004  USA Scott Elliott 2:23:31  USA Anita Ortiz 2:44:58
2003  USA Simon Gutierrez 2:13:29  USA Anita Ortiz 2:52:11
2002  USA Matt Carpenter 2:23:22  USA Anita Ortiz 2:44:33
2001  USA Matt Carpenter 2:16:13  USA Anita Ortiz 2:47:09
2000  USA Scott Elliott 2:16:00  USA Cindy O'Neill 2:50:52
1999  USA Jeremy Wright 2:18:32  USA Cindy O'Neill 2:45:17
1998  USA Jeremy Wright 2:26:48  USA Cindy O'Neill 2:45:11
1997  USA Matt Carpenter 2:10:41  USA Kirsten Ames 2:46:43
1996  MEX Martin Rodriguez 2:11:11  USA Marti Cooksey 2:50:11
1995  USA Michael Tobin 2:12:03  USA Marie Boyd 2:44:36
1994  USA Matt Carpenter 2:09:35  USA Marie Boyd 2:38:22
1993  USA Scott Elliott 2:13:39  USA J'ne Day-Lucore 2:43:51
1992  USA Scott Elliott 2:11:11  USA J'ne Day-Lucore 2:48:28
1991  USA Scott Elliott 2:11:58  USA Allison Shayne 2:48:36
1990  USA Matt Carpenter 2:07:36  USA J'ne Day-Lucore 2:44:40
1989  USA Scott Elliott 2:06:47  USA J'ne Day-Lucore 2:37:35
1988  USA Scott Elliott 2:11:10  USA Lynn Brown 2:48:39
1987  USA Scott Elliott 2:09:33  USA Christine Maisto 2:39:01
1986  USA Chester Carl 2:10:54  USA Judy Chamberlin 2:52:11
1985  USA Al Waquie 2:10:06  USA Judy Chamberlin 2:41:25
1984  USA Chester Carl 2:13:25  USA Judy Chamberlin 2:49:31
1983  USA Chester Carl 2:12:54  USA Lize Brittin 2:39:44
1982  USA Ron McCurley 2:17:18  USA Diane Israel 2:47:32
1981  USA Pat Porter 2:12:35  USA Joyce Rankin 3:09:15
1980  USA Lynn Bjorklund 2:41:06
1978  USA Marti Cooksey 2:46:44
1977  USA David Casillas 2:12:24  USA Donna Messenger 3:11:15
1976  USA Chuck Smead 2:05:22  USA Lynn Bjorklund 2:44:47
1975  USA Donna Messenger 3:02:24
1974  USA Chuck Smead 2:09:59  USA Donna Messenger 23:04:54
1972  USA Donna Messenger 3:28:26
1970  USA Pamela Schmidt 7:21:00
1964  USA Mary Felts 3:52:15
1963  USA Mary Felts 4:05:00
1962  USA Mary Felts 4:15:29
1961  USA Kathleen Bernard 4:42:24
1959  USA Katherine Heard-Fahl 5:17:52
1936  USA Lou Wille 3:00:55  USA Agnes Nellesen 6:42:00
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