Pikes Peak Marathon making 2020 a ‘retro race’ after coronavirus alters original plans

Photo Credit: Kelsey Brunner

The 2020 Pikes Peak Marathon will be a throwback to races of years past.

Ron Ilgen, president of Pikes Peak Marathon Inc., and those who help organize the August 23 trek to the summit of Pikes Peak and back to downtown Manitou Springs are calling it a “retro race,” as the coronavirus pandemic has forced many changes.

“It’s really what the race was back in the ‘80s and ‘90s where it was basically you got your bib, you ran the race, got your stuff, got rested and went home,” Ilgen said. “It’s not going to be, of course, the four-day event (it’s become).”

The Pikes Peak Ascent, typically the day before the marathon, was previously canceled, as were the two other two events in the Garden to Peak Series: the Garden of the Gods 10-mile Run and Barr Trail Mountain Race. Additionally, many of the events leading up to and celebrating the finish of the races will be toned down, and runners will be required to wear masks before and after the race, according to a release from Pikes Peak Marathon. More specifics will be sent to registered runners.

While race day is expected to look and feel different, Ilgen has been encouraged by the small number of people deferring their slot to next year or seeking a refund.

“Most people are sticking in,” Ilgen said. “So far, the response from the notice we sent out today has been very positive.”

There may be some perks for those who choose to race. With the Salomon Golden Trail World Series not coming to Colorado this summer because of the pandemic, some of the world’s most elite trail runners will not compete, opening up top spots for more local runners. Participants will also be sent out in smaller waves, allowing for more spacing on the trail.

“It shouldn’t really affect times,” Ilgen said. “It might even help, minimizing the crowding once the runners hit the trail.”

The changes were necessary to be in accordance with state and local guidelines. While it’s sure to be different, it’s better than breaking the streak of 65 consecutive years with a Pikes Peak Marathon.

“Very important, this race is the second-oldest continually running marathon,” Ilgen said. “We want to keep that streak going.”

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