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The iconic Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon are this weekend!  With an 85-year-old history, Pikes is not only a classic mountain race in the US, but also holds international prestige.  The race features two distances: the Ascent, an all uphill half marathon, and the Marathon, which runs up Pike’s Peak and back down.

Despite being “only the half marathon,” the all-uphill Ascent race is sometimes the more competitive distance.  Following our MUT Running ethos, we like to celebrate the “sub ultra-distance mountain races” and have great respect for the higher speed and higher intensity that these “shorter” races have to offer. Therefore, we have decided to feature the Ascent race (instead of the Marathon) in this article. 

The Ascent starts in downtown Manitou Springs, Colorado.  Runners finish on the summit of Pikes Peak at 14,115’ (4302m).  It is roughly a half-marathon distance and climbs a brutal 7815 feet (2382m) in elevation. The course is almost entirely on the Barr Trail, averaging an 11% uphill grade. 

[Some Strava data from a 2:10 Pikes Peak Ascent Race!]

While many top international runners like Kilian Jornet won’t be coming from Europe this year, the event will feature many of the best American mountain runners, including World Champion mountain runners like Joseph Gray and Allie McLaughlin.

As part of our event coverage, we’ve compiled a short preview of some very speedy contenders for both the elite women and elite men. 

[We apologize in advance that these lists aren’t meant to be exhaustive…please let us know in the comments/Message Board thread about who we missed as well as your predictions for the race!]

Top Women Contenders:

Allie McLaughlin (On Running) 

A World Champion Mountain Runner, in 2014, Allie led Team USA with a win in the Ascent, finishing in a blistering time of 2:33. She has a vast amount of MUT Running experience, is a multiple US Mountain Running National Champion, and has done plenty of other racing and training on the Barr Trail over the years. Rumor has it that she also entered the marathon on Sunday!

Allie is one tough runner! Photo by Peter Maksimow from last year’s Pikes Peak Marathon

Kristina Mascarenas 

Kristina is another local runner who has multiple podium finishes in the Pikes Peak races (including a marathon win in 2017). Perhaps best known for her blazing downhill speed, Mascarenas has had success at a variety of MUT Running events over the years. 

Collier Lawrence (Oiselle)

Collier has run in multiple US Olympic Trials on the track in the 3km steeplechase event. The NCAA DI collegiate track and cross country runner has shown range up to the half marathon and 25km distance on the trails.  She recently won the Silver State Trail Half-Marathon this past May.

Lindsey Scherf

The indoor marathon world record holder (2:40) has some serious road running speed! Lindsey has posted some impressive times, such as 32:27 for 10km, 1:11 in the half marathon, and 2:32 in the marathon.  It will be interesting to see how those times on the road and track will translate to a mountain race like Pikes; it appears Lindsey does not have much (if any) experience in MUT Running races. An exciting debut! 

Chelsea Bolton

Another local runner from Colorado, Chelsea placed 4th in the Pikes Peak Ascent (3:08:12) in 2019. She comes from a road and track background as well, although has mixed it up in a variety of MUT Running events over the years. 

Top Men Contenders:

Joseph Gray (HOKA ONE ONE)

The two-time World Mountain Running Champion (WMRA Champion that is…add 6 more World Titles to that number for all the other International Mountain Championships he has won!) is also a 18-time US Mountain Running Champion. Joe also just recently won the 2021 USATF Mountain Running Championships in Oregon this past weekend. Living and training in the Colorado Springs area, Joe will be back on ground. He has also won the Pikes Peak Ascent multiple times. 

[Joe has run the Ascent in 2:05 before….one of the fastest times ever recorded in the race!]

Chad Hall

The little brother of Olympic Marathoner Ryan Hall, Chad has not only established himself as a competitive Xterra triathlete, but has run a 4:04 mile. No stranger to high altitude, Chad most recently won the “Conquer the Wall” mountain race in Big Bear Lake, CA, this past weekend.

Guy Alton

Guy finished 3rd at the Speedgoat 28km and at the Rendezvous Mountain Hill Climb earlier this summer. As a 4:05 miler and sub 15-min 5km runner, Guy appears to be ready to progress in the MUT Running scene!

Ace Brown

Another former collegiate track and cross country athlete, Ace is young relative to the other top competitors in this race.  He finished Top 5 at the competitive GoPro Mountain Games 10km (a high altitude trail race in Vail, Colorado) earlier this summer.  It appears that he has also been training on the Pikes course!

Galen Burrell

An experienced Pikes Peak runner, Galen has a dozen finishes between the Ascent and Marathon races over the years. Most notably, he ran a 2:25 as a masters runner in 2019.