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Kilian Jornet falls short of Pikes Peak Marathon record as Maude Mathys obliterates women’s mark set last year

Catlan runner ran 3:27:39, nearly 11 minutes shy of Matt Carpenter’s record, which has stood for 26 years

One of the most revered records in American mountain running has withstood a challenge from this generation’s greatest ultrarunner.

Despite an early fast pace, Catalan mountain running superstar Kilian Jornet fell short of breaking Matt Carpenter’s ascent and overall course record in the 64th edition of the Pikes Peak Marathon on Sunday, finishing in 3 hours, 27 minutes, 29 seconds — nearly 11 minutes slower than Carpenter’s 3:16:39, set in 1993.

But Swiss ultrarunner Maude Mathys still provided reason to celebrate. Mathys won the women’s division in 4:02:45, crushing the course record set by Megan Kimmel last year in 4:15:04.

Carpenter’s course record has stood for 26 years. Jornet came to the Pikes Peak Marathon as part of the Salomon Golden Trail World Series, a collection of some of the top mountain races in the world, racing in the hopes of breaking the record after also falling short in 2012.

But he said afterward that his legs felt heavy during his morning warmup. He set a course record at the Sierre-Zinal trail race in Switzerland just two weeks ago, but he said that the short turnaround wasn’t a factor in his race today.

At the halfway mark — the summit of Pikes Peak — the record quest appeared to be in jeopardy. Jornet summited in 2:09:15, more than eight minutes behind Carpenter’s 2:01:06 ascent record, which Carpenter set in the same race he recorded the overall record.

For Carpenter, now 55, Pikes Peak is and remains his domain. He has won the marathon 12 times and the ascent-only run — held the day before the marathon — six times. He has lived in Manitou Springs for years and trained frequently on the Pikes Peak course, learning how to handle the altitude while navigating the flats, switchbacks and steep sections.

In recent years, trail running has exploded in popularity throughout the U.S. and the world, ushering a sport from the fringes of distance running to the mainstream. That has brought a new era of young, accomplished runners who have broken and rebroken records and so-called fastest-known times — thought to be untouchable. Despite the onslaught, Carpenter’s records at both Pikes Peak and the Leadville 100 still stand years after they were set.

The Pikes Peak Marathon course starts in Manitou Springs at 6,300 feet, before climbing more than 7,700 feet to Pikes Peak’s summit at 14,115 feet. The race is the second-oldest marathon in the United States and was the first in the U.S. to record an official women’s finisher.

Just past the first mile, Jornet was already leading the pack by a few steps. Just before five miles, he had built up his lead to more than 90 seconds, on pace to hit the summit in under two hours. But his legs soon caught up with him, and he slowed, summiting in 2:09:15.

Jornet had run this race in 2012, winning in 3:40:26. But he also competed with a heaver race schedule then.

Pikes Peak is one of only three races Jornet will do all year. Already, Jornet holds the course record counterclockwise and clockwise for the Hardrock 100, one of Colorado’s other esteemed ultra runs that starts and finishes in Silverton and loops through Ouray, Telluride and Lake City in the San Juan Mountains, forcing runnings to ascend some 33,000 feet over 100.5 miles.

(08/25/2019) ⚡AMP
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Pike's Peak Marathon

Pike's Peak Marathon

A Journey to the Top and Perhaps Back The Pikes Peak Ascent® and Pikes Peak Marathon® will redefine what you call running. Sure, they start out like a lot of races on Any Street, USA. But your first left turn will have you turning in the direction of up! During the next 10 miles, as you gain almost 6,000...

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Kilian Jornet crushed Sierre-Zinal, and has now set his sights on Pikes Peak

Ten years ago, a 21-year old Catalan trail runner showed up in the end-of-the-valley village of Zinal, in Switzerland’s Valais Canton, not far from the Italian border. He had a list with him.

“It was just a sheet of paper with names of races,” says Chamonix, France-based trail-running author Alain Bustin. “It wasn’t races he wanted to win, or course records he wanted to break. All he wanted to do was take part. Sierre-Zinal was on the list.”

Even then, Sierre-Zinal was iconic. The 31-kilometer race that started in the valley village of Sierre and finished in Zinal was already established as one of the most competitive trail races in the world. And that year, the young runner won.

A few weeks later, he won the 171-kilometer Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc.

That runner, of course, is Kilian Jornet. And last weekend in Zinal, he won “S-Z” for a seventh time, further surpassing Mexican runner Richardo Meija’s five wins between 1998 and 2005. And this time Jornet did something that no one had done in 16 years. He broke one of trail-running’s most-coveted course records with a time of 2:25:35—not by seconds, but by 3 minutes 37 seconds.

The 2:29:12 record had been held all those years by the New Zealander Jonathan Wyatt, now 46, indisputably one of his generation’s greatest mountain runners. Starting more than two decades ago, Wyatt began racking up records from the Alps to the United States, at races as diverse as Switzerland’s Jungfrau Marathon (2:49:01 in 2003) and New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Road Race (56:41 in 2004.) Both are still course records.United States runner Jim Walmsley had a notable success, finishing third in his first running of the famed course, in a time of 2:31:52—a result that in any other year would likely have had him breaking the finish-line tape.

While Sierre-Zinal is arguably one of the most competitive trail races in the world, and much of the attention focusses on the elite runners, it has a wide and diverse following. This year, more than 5,000 runners took part. Recreational runners started five-and-a-quarter hours earlier, a special aspect of the race-day schedule that allows recreational runners to watch elites arrive, several hours after most of them have crossed the finish line.

Nicknamed “The New York Marathon of the Alps,” the race’s rich history makes for a special day for runners from around the world. It’s a vibe that was felt by runners like Mike Ambrose, formerly the North American Marketing Manager for Salomon, and now based out of the company’s world headquarters in Annecy, France.

“Running across that ridgeline with the flowy singletrack, I felt the legends before me,” says Ambrose. “That’s the first time ever in a race that I was putting myself out there with the greatest and the pioneers of the sport. Maybe I wasn’t running at the same speed, but I was part of the history. I actually felt that energy. “

For Jornet, there are few records left to shatter. At age 31, he has Fastest Known Times from the Matterhorn to Mount Everest. He has won trail running’s most prestigious races, some of them multiple times, with course records around the world. It’s hard not to imagine that Jornet might begin to turn his attention to other projects. With Skyrunning Champion Emelie Forsberg, he now has a five-month-old baby—and an energetic labradoodle, Maui, to boot.

As he watched Jornet from a jumbo screen not far from the Sierre-Zinal finish line, Bustin, a longtime acquaintance of Jornet’s, was in a contemplative mood. “Kilian, he’s not just special because of his records at Sierre-Zinal or the UTMB,” he said. “He’s broken mountaineering records and ski alpinism (ski mountaineering) records, too.”

Bustin paused with thousands of other onlookers, as race officials announced to the crowd that Jornet was now 20 seconds ahead of Wyatt’s historic course record. On the screen, Jornet looked fluid and in control, calmly, steadily, smoothly “running the tangents” along a rocky section of the course.

“He’s a fantastic guy, with a great mentality about mountain sports. Maybe he’s about to say to the young runners, ‘Hey guys, I’ve done my time. Now it’s up to you,’” added Bustin. Taking in the weight of what he had just considered out loud—that the world’s greatest trail runner could soon be winding down his long stretch of highly competitive racing days—he looked back up to the screen, saying to no-one in particular, “He has nothing to prove to anyone.”

Well, maybe not quite. There is, arguably, at least one notoriously difficult-to-beat record remaining: Colorado’s Pikes Peak Marathon. In 1993, Matt Carpenter set a confoundingly fast course record there, with a time of 3:16:39. On August 25, Jornet will be there. It’s hard not to imagine he wouldn’t like to cross the tape with a time quicker than Carpenter’s. The trail-running world will be watching.

(08/19/2019) ⚡AMP
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Pike's Peak Marathon

Pike's Peak Marathon

A Journey to the Top and Perhaps Back The Pikes Peak Ascent® and Pikes Peak Marathon® will redefine what you call running. Sure, they start out like a lot of races on Any Street, USA. But your first left turn will have you turning in the direction of up! During the next 10 miles, as you gain almost 6,000...

more...
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Boulder’s Ryan Smith wins 2019 Leadville 100 with consistent second-half pacing

Boulder’s Ryan Smith won the Leadville 100 trail run on Saturday night thanks to consistent second-half pacing that left his rivals unable to respond. It was the biggest win of his ultrarunning career.

The Boulder-based runner, who came to the United States from the United Kingdom and works full-time a software engineer, was greeted at the finish by his wife and almost 2-year-old daughter. He turned 40 years old this year.

“There’s just a lot of running in the race,” Smith said, referring to the long flat sections along much of the course. “It really favors a flat runner rather than a mountain runner, and I typically do a lot of mountain stuff.”

His win — in 16 hours, 33 minutes, 25 seconds — was far from expected. Smith was not among the pre-race favorites to win, and he wasn’t feeling well leading into the Twin Lakes aid station near the 40-mile mark. But at the turnaround at Winfield, he held his pace steady, averaging around 10 minutes per mile for the rest of the race.

“Always be closing!” his last pacesetter, Clare Gallagher, herself a Leadville 100 winner in 2016, yelled to him after his win. She was referring to Smith’s penchant for strong finishes, and to the casual observer, it might have seemed that Smith was surging. But consistent pacing that late in a race — he averaged 9:58, 9:53, 9:59, 9:54, 10:01, 9:55, 9:54 for all of the second half checkpoints — is remarkably difficult to achieve.

His win came after Jared Hazen, the runner-up to this year’s Western States 100, set out a blistering early pace, intent on breaking the course record of 15:42 set by Matt Carpenter in 2005. Late Saturday morning, while racing back toward Twin Lakes, he told a Denver Post reporter along the trail that he had dropped out and “needed to get to an aid station.” He had turned around before the Winfield aid station — the halfway point of the course.

The Leadville is infamous for seducing runners into racing too hard too early, with flat fields and trails before turning into a punishing climb to 12,600 feet over Hope Pass.

For the women, Magdalena Boulet of Oakland, Calif., finished in 20:18:07 in her first Leadville 100. Boulet, who won her first-ever 100-miler in 2015 at Western States and was a U.S. Olympic marathoner in 2008, said she was inspired to run at Leadville after crewing for her boss at GU Energy Labs a few years ago. She had acclimatized at altitude for only two weeks before Saturday’s run. Boulder’s Cat Bradley was the second woman to cross the finish line in 20:45:48.

(08/18/2019) ⚡AMP
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Leadville Trail 100 Run

Leadville Trail 100 Run

The legendary “Race Across The Sky” 100-mile run is where it all started back in 1983. This is it. The race where legends are created and limits are tested. One hundred miles of extreme Colorado Rockies terrain — from elevations of 9,200 to 12,600 feet. You will give the mountain respect, and earn respect from all. ...

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