Race: Pikes Peak 50 Mile
Runner: Eric Meckel
Race Date: 7/31/2021
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/5718360605
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- The rain held off longer than expected so we had nice lower than normal temps and good cloud cover. I’ve run this in the heat and it’s not nearly as “fun.”
- Nothing compares to cresting that last hill around mile 40 and knowing that you have an all down hill speed derby to the finish.
- This race was won with poles for me. I ran it without using poles until much later in the race 2 years ago and this time they came out right away and it was like using the escalator to peak.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
Someone took my poles at an aid station! It wasn’t a busy race and at 16 miles in I put my poles down to refill waters and get a snack, came back to continue onwards and my poles were gone. Luckily there was only one person in front of me who I remembered had poles of his own. I searched with the help of the aid station volunteers and we found his poles nearby. I caught up a few miles later just as he realized his mistake and started inspecting his poles. Merriment ensued.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
It always rains and has heavy to severe thunderstorms. This year was a little earlier than normal and they had to stop people from summiting Mt Rosa at a few points.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
I really nailed the power-hiking aspect of this race. There is a lot of uphill on fire roads and you can get some breezy uphill miles out of the way with a solid rhythm. My overall favorite aspect of this race is the 10ish miles of fully runnable downhill at the end. I wish all races ended this way.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
Run uphill sprints and run downhill sprints in training. Do them a lot.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
I was told at mile 28 that we wouldn’t be allowed to summit Mt. Rosa but when I made it to the Rosa out and back they said we now could summit. I was surprised at how mentally devastating it was to me to now have to summit. That part of the course is the most technical uphill and at mile 35.5 and I didn’t summit last time because of lighting. I attempted to summit and was so overwhelmed with this late in the game change that I only made it about 1.0 miles up out of 1.5 before I had to turn around. I didn’t have any climb left in me. Ignore the course updates and assume you’re going to climb Rosa and save some climb and special treats for that effort.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
Deer Park aid station has 2 out and backs plus there is a drop bag station. I found great success in leaving my longer range gear at the aid station, using poles for the first out and back and just a small bottle, snacks and no poles for the second. It gives you a nice break from a running vest and that second 6 mile out and back isn’t nearly as hilly as the rest of the race.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
It has a lot of fabulous views of Colorado Springs and the surrounding peaks. Very scenic if there is no cloud cover.
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
Yes. Some years the rain is much later in the day and if there is no cloud cover it can be in the mid 80s. Because it’s a lot of fire roads there can be a LOT of direct sun. Not a difficult technical course but it just keeps going up.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Absolutely well organized. Mad Moose does a great job and this race is no exception. They know the weather challenges, the aid stations are the appropriate distances and the course is well marked.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
Not this year but in years past there has certainly been. I have no business being in 13th place!
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
Easy to book, hotels and airbnbs nearby, easy to park and the start is even on google maps.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
Weather and typical race conditions
Hot, then slightly cooler, then lots of rain and lightning.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?
Poles are the secret weapon here. Must also carry a rain jacket.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
Not really. Only at the start/finish.
How’s the Swag?
Just a medal and a T shirt, both of which are pretty standard.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
If you want the accomplishment of running a 50 miler and throwing yourself down the mountain for 10 miles in the rain at the end, this is your race.