Here's my recap of running the Pike Peak Marathon:
While technically an out and back race, up and down would be accurate. Going up starts in Manitou Springs and climbs over 7,800 feet to the top of Pikes Peak. The first five miles are pretty congested - you're only as fast as the horde in front of you. As you get above the tree line, the air gets thinner making it difficult to breathe. It can take experienced runners 30 minutes to go a mile at the top. I took a little longer.
Crossing the halfway point at the summit felt as triumphant as Rocky bounding atop the art museum steps. The weather was ideal, and the view was spectacular. Coming down the air gets thicker and every step gets easier, at least they did at first. Around mile 23, my legs turned to spaghetti. Thankfully, my running partner, Bruce, was there to keep me going.
Of course, it was his idea that we run the second toughest marathon in the world. Once we cleared the trail, we still had a mile to go on pavement into town. As we approached the finish line, the announcer called out our bib numbers, hometowns and names. Eight hours and ten minutes of running, hiking, walking and shuffling led to an exhilarating experience and an awesome sense of accomplishment. I'm pretty proud of my new slowest marathon time... and my strongest negative split.