2019 Pikes Peak Marathon Men’s Preview

2019 Pikes Peak Marathon - Golden Trail SeriesDating back to 1956, the Pikes Peak Marathon (PPM) is a classic mountain race that climbs 7,770 feet (2,368 meters) from the town of Manitou Springs, Colorado to the top of Pikes Peak at 14,115 feet, and back down to Manitou Springs over the course of 26.2 miles. The race may be home to the most impressive record in U.S. trail running in Matt Carpenter’s 3:16:22 from 1993. (Amazingly, Carpenter set the still-standing ascent record of 2:01:06 during that run.) As with last year, the PPM is part of the Golden Trail Series (GTS). This year’s race takes place on Sunday, August 25th.

Thanks to Salomon for making our coverage of this year’s Pikes Peak Marathon possible!

Read our women’s preview to find out who else is racing on Sunday. Be sure to follow along with our live coverage of the race starting at 7:00 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time in the U.S. on Sunday, August 25th.

[Editor’s Note: With two inconsistent entrants lists and some very late additions to the field, the elite field is a moving target. Please leave a comment letting us know of other top entrants!]

The Men Most Likely to Win

2018 Ring of Steall Skyrace - Kilian Jornet

Kilian Jornet

Coming off his course-record-setting win at Sierre-Zinal on August 11th, it’s impossible not to label Kilian Jornet (pre-race interview) the favorite for this year’s PPM. That, and the fact he’s Kilian Jornet. Kilian’s run PPM once, in 2012, and won in 3:40:26. That was back when Kilian raced a lot. This year, the Spaniard living in Norway has all of three trail races on his calendar, all in the marathon or slightly shorter range as part of the GTS and having already won his first two races at the Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon and Sierre-Zinal. It’s hard to imagine anyone will break Matt Carpenter’s legendary course record, but here’s one guy with the talent to give it a go.

Well, the late addition of Switzerland’s Rémi Bonnet (pre-race interview) adds some more spice to the front of the field, as he’s got the fastest PPM time of anyone on the field at 3:37:08 from his 2017 win. That PPM win is no aberration as he also won last year’s Zegama Marathon. He’s focusing on the GTS this season, with a DNF at Zegama, fifth at the Mont-Blanc Marathon, 10th at the Dolomites Skyrace, and eighth at Sierre-Zinal. [Added 8/20 10:30 a.m.]

Bartlomiej Przedwojewski is out with an injury. [Updated 8/22] Next to Kilian, Poland’s Bartlomiej Przedwojewski may be having the best 2019 GTS season so far, as he took second at Zegama, third at the Mont-Blanc Marathon, and fifth at the Dolomites Skyrace. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise given he was third at last year’s Zegama and sixth at the Ring of Steall Skyrace (to go along with 35th at Sierre-Zinal) before winning the GTS finale at Otter Trail.

Darren Thomas is out with a hip injury. [Updated 8/20Steamboat Springs’s Darren Thomas has run PPM for six-straight years, going 17th, fifth, fifth, third, second, and third during that span. Last year, he chopped more than 10 minutes off his personal best for the course, running 3:37:34 en route to taking third. Unless I’m mistaken, this gives him the fastest PPM time of anyone in the field. Thomas has run plenty of other trail races, but Pikes Peak is where he does his best work.

Julien Rancon Post-2019 Trail World Championships

Julien Rancon

Julien Rancon will not be racing. [Updated 8/20] Few folks will bring as many years of international-racing experience to the pointy end of this year’s PPM field as France’s Julien Rancon. He represented France at the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) World Championships all the way back in 2005 when he was 12th and he’s still repping France internationally with a second place at this year’s Trail World Championships (44k). Among Rancon’s highlights from the past three years are a sixth at last year’s Sierre-Zinal, 10th at the 2017 WMRA World Championships, and second at the 2018 French Mountain Running Championships. Rancon hasn’t faired as well in his two GTS races this year, placing 30th at the Mont-Blanc Marathon and 29th at Sierre-Zinal.

Tim Freriks (pre-race interview) was on fire from late 2016 through early 2018. During that span, he was second at the 2016 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, won the 2017 Transvulcania Ultramarathon, was second at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 52k, won the 2017 TNF ECS 50 Mile Championships, and won the 2018 Black Canyon 100k. Since then, he was 13th at the 2018 Western States 100, 40th at the 2018 OCC, 11th at the 2019 Santa Barbara Nine Trails, and a DNF at the 2019 Lavaredo Ultra Trail. That said, it looks like he’s training well in the high-altitude environs of Flagstaff, Arizona of late.

So far this year, Italian Francesco Puppi’s GTS results haven’t been up to par with his other racing, as he was 16th at the the Mont-Blanc Marathon and Sierre-Zinal along with 71st at the Dolomites Skyrace. Outside of the GTS in the last few years, he’s been third at Sierre-Zinal in 2016 and fourth in 2018, won the 2017 WMRA Long Distance World Championships at Giir di Mont, was seventh at the WMRA World Championships in 2018, and fourth at the Trail World Championships in 2019. He admitted to preferring runnable mountain races over highly technical ones in an interview with us earlier this year, so PPM could suit him.

Other Men at the Front

Another late Swiss entrant with a 3:37 at PPM to his credit is Marc Lauenstein who ran 3:37:21 in his 2014 win. Back in 2010 he also took second at the Pikes Peak Ascent (PPA) in 2:12:19. Lauenstein has another solid season in 2018, taking fourth at Zegama, second at the Mont-Blanc Marathon, eighth at the Ring of Steall Skyrace, and second at Otter Trail all as part of the GTS. He kicked 2019 off with his third-straight win at the 45k Trail du Ventoux before placing 30th at Sierre-Zinal in his slowest time from his five runs of the race. [Added 8/20 10:45 a.m.]

Well, talk about a race field getting stronger as race day approaches! Now, PPM will welcome back David Sinclair, who was fifth last year in 3:38:09. In 2017, he was second at the Kendall Mountain Run before winning the Bridger Ridge Run, the Imogene Pass Run, and the Flagstaff Skyrace 39k. Last year, he won the Speedgoat 50k. This year, he was third at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 52k and 18th at the Dolomites Skyrace. [Added 8/20 11:30 a.m.]

Mexico’s Juan-Carlos Carera is another late addition to this year’s PPM. Having represented Mexico in many WMRA World Championships (26th in 2008, 15th in 2015, 23rd in 2016, 42nd in 2017, and 10th in 2018), he’s greatly improved the past few years as shown by his placings at Sierre-Zinal that improved from 18th in 2017 to fifth last year to fourth earlier this month. Carera’s dropped nearly ten minutes off that Sierra-Zinal time, going 2:42:48 to 2:36:34 to 2:32:53. [Added 8/20 11 p.m.]

Sage Canaday - 2017 Lake Sonoma 50

Sage Canaday

Sage Canaday is focusing on the GTS for the second-straight year. After a “disastrous” (according to him via social media) 37th at the Mont-Blanc Marathon, he withdrew from the Dolomites Skyrace to regroup before bouncing back with an 11th at Sierre-Zinal so far this season. He’s twice run the PPA, taking fourth in 2012 and winning in 2014 in 2:10:03, while he was sixth in his PPM debut last year in 3:46:04.

While increasing competition seems to have pushed many repeat runners at the Mont-Blanc Marathon down in the standings over the years, France’s Thibault Baronian has been consistently in the top ten the past few years, taking seventh in 2017, fourth in 2018, and sixth this year. As a GTS competitor, he’s also been third at this year’s Zegama and 14th at Sierre-Zinal a few weeks ago.

With four finishes of the PPA, this will be Andy Wacker’s first go at PPM. He went third, second, and second in his three runnings from 2014 to 2016, with a best of 2:11:39 in 2014 before taking fifth in last year’s shortened PPA. So far this season, Wacker’s been ninth at Zegama and tenth at the Mont-Blanc Marathon before finishing 55th at Sierre-Zinal a few weeks ago. He also took second at the Barr Trail Mountain Race on Pikes Peak in late July.

Max King has two finishes at PPM, a third in 3:50:10 in 2012 and 15th in 4:37:42 last year. There’s little reason to think he can’t finish closer to his 2012 time than his 2018 time. Why do I say that? Well, in 2018 alone King won the Way Too Cool 50k, was sixth at Zegama, won the Broken Arrow Skyrace 28k, and was 16th at Sierre-Zinal. This season he’s won the Mount Marathon Race, was seventh at the Transvulcania Ultramarathon, 17th at Sierre-Zinal, and DNFed the Black Canyon 100k and Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. [Added 8/20 11 a.m.]

Another late entrant to the field is José Quispe, who has the advantage of living at high altitude in Peru. Following on his success in South America, Quispe is starting to find his footing further afield this year in taking 12th at the Trail World Championships (44k) and eighth at the Dolomites Skyrace. [Added 8/20 11 a.m.]

Ecuador’s Karl Egloff took seventh at his PPM debut last year in 3:48:08. He’s not faired well so far in this year’s GTS, taking 51st at Zegama and 65th at the Dolomites Skyrace. With a mountaineering background, he has plenty of experience at high altitude and has bested several of Jornet’s mountain FKTs.

Former Colorado Springs resident Carlos Ruibal ran the PPA in 2012 and 2013 before moving up to the marathon where he took third, second, and third in 2014, 2015, and 2017, respectively. His fastest time is 4:00:11 in 2017, which would have been ninth last year with the increased competition the GTS has brought. Last year, Ruibal was fourth at the Leadville Trail 100 Mile and this July he won the Silver Rush 50 Mile.

Watch out for California’s Michelino Sunseri, who’s been ramping up his trail game over the past year and change. During that time, he’s faired well at the Broken Arrow Skyraces, taking second in the VK and fourth in the 26k last year and second in the 52k this year. This year, he’s already been 13th at the Way Too Cool 50k, won the 13-mile Ashland Hillclimb, and, most recently, won the Speedgoat 50k.

Stephan Wenk will not be racing. [Updated 8/20] Switzerland’s Stephan Wenk competed in last year’s GTS, taking 13th at Zegama, sixth at the Mont-Blanc Marathon, ninth at Sierre-Zinal, and sixth at Otter Trail. He got a late start to his 2019 season, kicking things off in late July before taking 13th at Sierre-Zinal a few weeks ago.

While I’m not sure of his pure climbing ability or his ability to perform at altitude, Finland’s Henri Ansio does well on runnable courses, which PPM is for folks of his talent level. Some points of evidence in that direction: he was fourth at the 2017 Trail World Championships (49k), third at the 2017 Ultravasan 90k, and third at the 2018 Grand Trail des Templiers. In two GTS races so far this year, he was 14th at the Mont-Blanc Marathon and 21st at Sierre-Zinal.

Sweden’s Petter Engdahl had a breakout 2018 with a win at the Ligvigno Skymarathon, ninth at the Dolomites Skyrace, sixth at Trofeo Kima, and fourth at Limone Extreme, where he was also fifth in 2017. He started 2019 off with a third place at the Transvulcania Ultramarathon in what I believe was his longest race to date and where he excelled on the 8,000-foot descent of a scale similar to that of PPM. He’s not been quite as strong in his last few international races since, taking 12th at Zegama, 21st at Livigno, and 18th a Sierre-Zinal.

It’s a bit hard to place France’s Alexis Sévennec ahead of this year’s PPM. In the last two months he’s been 20th at the Mont-Blanc Marathon, 14th at the Dolomites Skyrace, and 38th at Sierre-Zinal to go along with a stronger eighth place a bit earlier in the season at Zegama. Those first three races are right in line with previous times at those events when he previously placed higher, and, therefore, reflect increased competition at those races rather than a drop off in performance.

Jan Margarit will not be racing. [Updated 8/20] At 21 years old, Spain’s Jan Margarit is one of the youngest top contenders in this year’s PPM. Amazingly, he’s already run PPA twice, taking eighth in 2016 and fifth in 2017 (2:25:39). After a busy 2017 season, Margarit didn’t race until late in the 2018 season when he was 10th at the Ring of Steall Skyrace and 13th at Limone. While he was 113th at Zegama in May, he then took 19th at the Mont-Blanc Marathon and fourth at the Dolomites Skyrace before winning the Skyrace Comapedrosa in late July.

Spain’s Andreu Simon has steadily improved over the past few years. Just look at his runs at Zegama, where he’s gone from running 4:27 in 2016, to 4:15 in 2017, to 4:12 last year. In June, he was ninth at the Trail World Championships (44k) in Portugal.

Aritz Egea - 2015 Zegama Marathon

Aritz Egea

If you’ve followed Skyrunning and, later, the Golden Trail Series in recent years, then you know of Spain’s Aritz Egea. He’s got countless podiums at top-level races around the marathon distance. In 2018 alone he was eighth at Zegama, fifth at the Mont-Blanc Marathon, won Giir di Mont, was 13th at Sierre-Zinal, and took 16th at the Ring of Steall Skyrace. In light of those accomplishments, Egea’s past few months have been disappointing, with a 46th at Zegama, 25th at the Dolomites Skyrace, and 27th at Sierre-Zinal. His highlight on the year is placing ninth at the Mont-Blanc Marathon.

The U.K.’s Jacob Adkin has run very well at short trail events, having won the vertical kilometer at the Mont-Blanc Marathon the past two years and finishing sixth at the WMRA World Championships last year. Last year, he was also 10th at Sierre-Zinal, where he finished 19th this year with a similar time. He was 21st at the Dolomites Skyrace in July.

While there are plenty on this list with broad international credentials, keep your eyes open for Jeff Rome. You might have noticed him take second at last year’s Hardrock 100 before taking ninth and seventh at the Run the Rut 28k and 50k respectively last September. Rome’s spent this summer training in the mountains above Silverton, Colorado during which time he beat some strong runners at the John Cappis 35k fat-ass event. Rome’s signed up for the PPA the day before, as well.

Brian Condon was eighth at PPM last year in 3:55:32. This year, he ran himself into the Western States 100 with a second-place finish at Canyons 100k. He was then 17th at this year’s Western States.

Jackson Brill isn’t returning to race PPM this year. [Updated 8/20] In taking ninth at last year’s PPM, Jackson Brill ran 4:00:35. So far in this year’s GTS, he’s taken 24th at Zegama, 18th at the Mont-Blanc Marathon, and 78th at Sierre-Zinal.

While I can’t find any results for him this year, last year Aspen, Colorado’s Michael Barlow won the Telluride Mountain Run (38 miles) and the Power of Four 50k. In 2015 he was sixth at the Tromso Skyrace (45k) while in 2016 he was sixth at the Kendall Mountain Run (12 miles) and fourth at the Run the Rut 28k.

Over the past seven years, Scott Spillman has a 13th in the PPA and four top-ten finishes at PPM: sixth (’14, ’17), eighth (’16), and 10th (’18). He’s improved his time in each of his PPM outings, running a personal best of 4:04:40 last year. Spillman was also 13th at the TNF ECS 50-Mile Championships back in 2016.

Boulder, Colorado’s Bobby Peavey won this year’s Red Hot Moab 55k before going on to take sixth at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile in April. Late last year, he was fifth at the Moab Trail Marathon.

Drew Holmen is plenty fast, but how will that translate to Pikes Peak? He was fifth at the Way Too Cool 50k in 2017 and fourth this year. Last year he was fourth at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 52k and this June he won the Cayuga Trails 50 Mile.

Other Men to Watch Out For

  • Dean Abel – 12th 2018 PPM (4:09:20); 5th 2018 Barr Trail Mountain Race
  • Riccardo Borgialli (Italy) – 10th & 23rd at 2017 & 2019 Mont-Blanc Marathon
  • Davide Cheraz (Italy) – 11th, 22nd, & 47th 2017-19 Mont-Blanc Marathon
  • Corey Dobson – 4 PPM top-ten finishes including 8th in 2017 & 10th 2016 (in PB 4:19:35)
  • Ondrej Fejfar (Czech Republic) – 2nd 2018 PPA; 6th 2016 Run the Rut 28k [Updated 8/20]
  • Christian Gering – 28th 2019 Sierre-Zinal; 4th and 10th 2016 and 2018 Speedgoat 50k [Added 8/21]
  • Patrick McGlade – 17th 2017 PPM; 5th 2018 Quad Rock 50 Mile
  • Gavin McKenzie – 9th 2014 PPM (4:30:39)
  • Mark Torres – 20th 2018 PPM (4:43:59); 17th 2017 PPM (4:48:47); 8th 2015 PPM (4:28:16); 8th 2014 PPM (4:28:14)
  • Spencer Wegner – 19th 2018 PPM (4:43:22) as 20 year old

Previously Entered But Not Racing

  • Dakota Jones – Last year’s PPM champ is coming back from a foot injury.

Call for Comments

  • Which men do you think will end up at the front of the race? Who might surprise folks on the slopes of Pikes Peak on Sunday?
  • As always, please leave a comment if you know of other top men we should be watching for on race day (there are two entrants lists and numerous late additions, so this is a big help!) as well as if any of the men we’ve mentioned won’t be racing after all.

There are 73 comments

  1. Pete

    While it’s exciting as a fan to see the GTS come to the USA, is anyone else uneasy about many of these athletes racing again just two weeks after Sierre-Zinal? Both are grueling races even though we may call them “short” in distance. Elite road marathoners put months between their races. I’d be interested if physiologists or coaches think that two weeks is enough recovery time between these two events. Thanks for the coverage, iRF, looking forward to it

    1. CLF

      I’m neither a coach or physiologist, but I’ve been running/racing for decades and don’t think it’s an issue for shorter trail racing like this. Trail/mountain racing is just different – it’s not the same nearly identical strides throughout the entire race that can cause repetition/overuse issues – the constantly variable terrain breaks things up and employs different muscle groups as you go. At least that’s my take.

    2. SteelTownRunner

      Bill Rogers ran 60+ career marathons. As training evolved and elite competition got better, top athletes raced less and trained more with more sophistication. The physiological demands and toll of the marathon (and at that level) are very different than those from many of these mountain races.

      1. Pete

        Yes the road vs. mountain demands are very different and I don’t want to start that discussion. The point is that SZ and PPM are both very difficult events and as self-serving as it is for us to be enjoying the competition, is it at the expense of the SZ/PPM doublers who may be overdoing it because of unrealistic GTS scheduling.

  2. SteelTownRunner

    I can’t speak with any first hand knowledge, but I understand from someone affiliated with the race that the course is not the exact course that Matt Carpenter ran in his CR. (a bit steeper/ more technical at the top if I understood correctly). A worthwhile point for any course record discussion.

    1. CLF

      I’ve heard this kind of talk since the 90’s when I ran it, yet nobody’s ever provided anything concrete, so it all sounds a bit too nebulous to me. “Technical at the top” – well there’s a minor “stair-step” section of rocks right below the summit – it was there when I ran it and to my knowledge always has been. If not, can I claim an adjusted PR 5 seconds better???

      What I would say is this – even if there have been minor alterations to the trail (re: very possible as the Forest Service and other sanctioned groups routinely do trail work throughout the state), these are improvements that unanimously make trails better, not worse. And their net effect on race times, faster or slower, are
      the kind of thing only worth talking about if someone were to run within a minute or two of the CR. But NOBODY has broken 3:30 since the 90’s!

      Personally, I’ve grown weary of this kind of talk.

      1. SteelTownRunner

        Thanks, that’s helpful. I can’t speak with any first hand knowledge. I was merely passing on what I heard from what I understood to be from someone in the know. Regardless, the difficulty in making a true apples to apples comparison in mountain and trail running is rather significant. A great road runner of the Bill Rogers era told me that he was against road records altogether (not to speak of so called trail records) b/c of the very difficulty of comparing one course to another (I don’t go that far, but the perspective is worth hearing from someone who was among the top in the world).

    2. Tom

      Speculation that the course is harder/easier is wrong. Above treeline the trail is singletrack rocky and rutted due to the winter snow and runoff. There is no significant change to the Barr Trail over the years. It is not steeper. I have lived in the area since 1980 and participated in the PPA and PPM plus doing the trail regularly for forty years. Stop it.
      Killian is great, I am inspired by his accomplishments. However Matt’s record will not be beaten this week. It’s too good.
      I saw Matt coming down in 93. He was hardly touching the ground and his hair was flying. What a sight.
      The traffic is significant for the lead runners on the down but has not changed. The year has been wet but lately it has been warm and the trail is dry and loose. The temps will be warm on the weekend.
      I would love to see KJ break the record and good luck to him. But I doubt it can be done and I will be there watching.

      1. CLF

        @Tom – awesome first-class post, every word of it!

        “I saw Matt coming down in 93. He was hardly touching the ground and his hair was flying. What a sight.”

        What I (and probably everyone else here) would give to see a picture, or even better yet, a video clip of that. If only…

        Thanks again for your comments!

    3. Koop

      From first hand knowledge as a local trail runner and who does trail work on Barr trail, I can say for certain that the trail is virtually the same, save for some very minor changes to drainages and small (<10 feet) reroutes due to rockfall, etc. However, the trail surface itself is in poorer shape from top to bottom, particularly below the Incline runoff around mile 4/23. So, it is certainly slower, not shorter/steeper.

  3. CLF

    FYI – I started a discussion thread on this year’s PPM over on LetsRun, mostly centered on the “Almighty 3:16” and whether Kilian can get it. I know, I know – it’s typically a cesspool over there and so I won’t post the link here and risk site contamination, but the discussion has been pretty clean so far and a number of posters have provided excellent historical insights that some here might be interested in – or not. Can’t wait for the race – could be a great one!

      1. CLF

        Thread title over there (LetsRun) is “Official Pikes Peak Discussion Thread”.

        It’s been pretty clean and very insightful so far, with only one or two troll appearances.

  4. Darren Thomas

    Hey guys, I’ve had innumerable health problems this summer and now wound up with a hip injury that I’m recovering from. Unfortunately I won’t be running this weekend, but I’ll be down there watching the action.
    Thanks for covering this race, it truly is special especially this year

    PS I am now a steamboat springsian, at least until winter.

  5. Albert

    If anyone is going to get close to Matt Carpenter’s record, it’ll be KJ. He seems to be running very strong. If KJ does it, it’ll be epic.

  6. Jackson Brill

    Hello iRF,
    I won’t be racing Pikes this year. After running 4:00:36 last year, you’d better believe I’ll be back soon to run (at least!) 37 seconds faster! Looking forward to the awesome coverage from you guys.

  7. Matyáš

    Czech Republic’s Ondrej Fejfar is not running despite being on the entrant list, he has decided to skip the event following his unsatisfying results in the GTS earlier this year.

    Also I feel like winning this year’s European Mountain Running Championships in Zermatt should be noted amongst Jacob Adkin’s feats.

  8. Mark

    It is going to be warm, which definitely affects times.
    As far as the trail conditions go, it is affected more by storms day-to-day than any year-to-year changes I have seen in three decades.
    After a rain (like it was a year ago) the trail is fast up and down. After a few days of dry weather it gets more and more gravelly, making footing slicker.
    A lot of this trail condition talk started a few years ago when it was particularly dry and loose. A few days out from the race I would rate the trail condition as average historically for August. Could improve with some more rain in the coming days.

  9. Bill Coffelt

    I have run every Pikes Peak Marathon since 1984. Barr Trail has eroded seriously in many places despite massive trail repairs. The last 10 years it has been more noticeable. Also, with a maxed out field, there is more traffic to contend with on the descent. I wish KJ the best and a SAFE descent if he goes for the record.

  10. speedgoat

    In order for KJ to get the record he’ll have to be under 2:03 at the peak. Matt’s 2:01 and change is very fast, but I’m willing to bet KJ can hit that. There are lots of variables on the descent as he’ll pass 950 runners at top speed. It’s not all about the elite runners all the time, but I hope all of the runners racing the marathon, get the hell out of the way as he levitates down Pikes Peak. I was also there in 1993 when Matt set the record. He had Ricardo Mejia on his tail, who summited in 205:32. Ricardo was close, but Matt’s descent was a little better. I really think with KJ’s descending skills, he can do it, but he’s gotta nail it. When Matt set that record 25 years ago, noone believed it could be broken, including me, but it’s a new generation, just like Kipchoge in the marathon. Anything is possible. Good Luck KJ! Let the running gods be on your side…..

    1. CLF

      “In order for KJ to get the record he’ll have to be under 2:03 at the peak. Matt’s 2:01 and change is very fast, but I’m willing to bet KJ can hit that. There are lots of variables on the descent as he’ll pass 950 runners at top speed. It’s not all about the elite runners all the time, but I hope all of the runners racing the marathon, get the hell out of the way as he levitates down Pikes Peak.” – Pretty much agree with all this.

      However,the following statement is a reflection of how memories can fade (happens to all of us///not being judgemental):
      “I was also there in 1993 when Matt set the record. He had Ricardo Mejia on his tail, who summited in 205:32. Ricardo was close, but Matt’s descent was a little better…”

      Apparently it didn’t happen this way according to the official posted results (clip):

      Sunday, August 22nd, 1993
      1 1/37 MATT CARPENTER 29 COLORADO SPGS CO 2:01:06 1:15:33 3:16:39
      2 1/73 RICARDO MEJIA 30 MEXICO DF MEX 2:16:09 1:26:05 3:42:14

      I checked all of Ricardo’s results and he never summited in exactly 2:05:23, and it doesn’t look like he was remotely close to Matt in ’93. (at least not past the beginning stages that are not shown in the splits)

      1. speedgoat

        I guess this is what I remember:

        RICARDO MEJIA 29 MEXICO DF MEX 2:08:05 1:16:20 3:24:25

        Matt was on the summit in 205+ that year, then ricardo smoked him running down. One of Matt’s few losses. 1992. I”m an old man, how am I expected to remember that shit? :-) Note his 1:16 descent. very close to Matt’s fastest. I bet KJ runs under 113 down…if it’s his day. Matt has always ruled the time up though, so KJ has to match that to have that chance.

        1. CLF

          Yeah just checked the ’92 splits, in addition to Ricardo smoking the descent, it looks like Matt really blew a gasket on it. Injury perhaps? Who knows.

          Agreed KJ’s going to have to keep it close on the climb to be in the driver’s seat on the descent – and that’s exactly what he did at S-Z. So if weather and trail conditions permit, he certainly has a shot.

  11. SMB

    Any thoughts on how to compare KJ’s downhill skills against MC’s “home field advantage”?
    I was assuming KJ would have to go sub 2:00 up in order to have a chance at the record.

    1. speedgoat

      tough call. they are both so fast I could barely see them. I just think in order for KJ to get it, he’s going to have to be real close at the summit within a minute or two. Running down PIkes in 1:15 is ridiculous. My best descent was 1:27 flat, not bad, but that’s a minute per mile faster. We shall see.

  12. Greg Vollet

    Hello Bryon
    Juan Carlos Carrera will be a strong runner to add on your list, he finished 4th at Sierre-Zinal last week and want to follow the Golden Trail World Series.
    Julien Rancon, Jan Margarit and Stephan Wenk are not coming.

  13. Robert Johnson

    Any idea why top Salomon athlete Bartlomiej Przedwojewski is permitted to compete in the Golden Trail Series?

    According to his Quartz page on the ITRA website he is using meds for chronic asthma (Asaris, which contains a high potency corticosteroid called fluticasone) and hypothyroidism (Euthyrox). TUEs are required for these meds. And according to the GTS rules – “the most radical change is certainly the refusal of TUEs based on corticosteroids during the entire series”.

    Seems like a case of double standards by Salomon/Greg Vollet.


    1. SageCanaday

      Good points. Bartlomiej was sure crushing it last year by the time the Otter Trail Race (final of the Golden Trail Series) rolled around. Greg V. specifically said in a pre-race meeting last year that TUES weren’t even going to be allowed in the Golden Trail Series.

      And from what I’ve seen QUARTZ is merely “health monitoring”. A drop of blood here and there….Letting you take your own cup to a private bathroom to pee in it (not being watched!). Even if an “abnormal or atypical” result is found nothing can be done under WADA code or protocol because of these “testing procedures.” And QUARTZ/ITRA has its umbrella over all GTS races like Pikes and Sierre-Zinal. It is not real drug testing from what I’ve seen.

      I’d be willing to pay my own fee of $500-1000 a year (along with say the top 50 ranked MUT Runners) to contribute to an actual WADA testing pool that runs real PED tests between races (surprise random ones with real penalties) for top ranked runners.

      The sport is not clean at the top end and for us sponsored runners who benefit the most I feel like we have to be more transparent with these things.

      1. Stephen Goldstein

        Fluticasone is on the WADA banned list when administered by “oral, intravenous, intramuscular, or rectal routes”. If he’s using a formulation that’s intranasal (common in the US), I don’t see that it would require a TUE. I don’t see Euthyrox (levothyroxine) on the WADA prohibited list for this year at all (https://www.usada.org/wp-content/uploads/wada_2019_english_prohibited_list.pdf), so where is the info it would require a TUE? I’m all for calling out cheaters by name, but naming 1 out of dozens of athletes based on bad info seems very wrong.

        1. SageCanaday

          For the record that was what Robert Johnson said about TUEs…not me. But I know Greg said about TUE use in the Golden Trail Series. All fair if everyone is adhering to WADA code.

          But I also wasn’t talking about a runner like Bart when I said there have been/are people “toeing the starting line at Pikes who have had doping infractions in the past”

          1. Stephen Goldstein

            Yea I didn’t think you were talking about Bart on that point. I’m not 100% on the Pikes start list, but I think many would agree that Mamu being invited to SZ and Elisa Desco participating period as an elite in the GTS are egregious examples. Kilian said recently he (like you) supports a lifetime ban for heavy doping. Gotta believe EPO and popping twice for asthma meds would qualify.

            I did think your comment on Bart at Otter Trail came a little close to accepting the assertion that he was getting a TUE despite Salomon’s claims they aren’t allowed for the GTS, and it was a pretty easy thing to check.

            It’d be great if more athletes spoke out like you and were willing to put money in, but it shouldn’t really be your responsibility. The sponsors and race organizers need to do this. If Mamu had run down Kilian, I wonder what the sponsors would be thinking today.

        2. Stefan C.

          Thank you Stephen for pointing this out. This is very important. I haven’t checked for myself but if true, it’s very interesting that fluticasone is only banned when administered by certain routes of administration. If it were not for your comment people might unfairly assume that the athlete in question is a doper based on poorly researched comments on this message board. The guy probably has asthma and hypothyroidism (someone who has a lung disease and excels at running should actually be commended) and now will be perceived as a doper even though he is following the rules.

          1. Nicolas

            “people might unfairly assume that the athlete in question is a doper based on poorly researched comments on this message board”

            Yup. Beware not to turn this forum into another Marathon Investigation, folks.

    2. Robert Johnson

      Thank you Sage, Stephen, and Stefan for your comments. It has been useful to get some clarification regarding this issue as Mr Vollet at Salomon has failed to respond to me on this issue, and it is only since I posted in this forum and contacted the race organisation at the Pikes Peak Marathon that Mr Sallet from the Quartz Program has decided to respond (and reprimanded me for using social media to ask questions). However, now I have managed to establish a dialogue with the director of Quartz, I am hoping to resolve athletes’ (and my own) concerns about the program.

      I am a freelance journalist currently piecing together an article regarding TUE abuse in athletics. I am looking very closely at the Quartz Program as a number of top athletes in your sport have recently been openly critical of the system, whilst others are big supporters. The general feeling amongst the detractors seems to be that the Quartz Program is a big step backwards in the fight against doping, when you already have the WADA Athletes Biological Passport (on which Quartz seems to be very loosely based) along with In- and Out-of-Competiton drug testing. What I find very interesting is that the Quartz Program has been put together and is being used by those whose role it is to promote the sport of trail running (i.e. the I.T.R.A. and Mr Poletti, Salomon and Mr Vollet). If this situation were to exist in any other sport (a ‘big’ sport such as soccer, or track and field, or cycling) chaos would reign.

      I was in no way suggesting that this Mr Przedwojewski is doing anything against the rules, and I apologise if my comments were seen as such. In fact, he should be congratulated for being able to compete at such a high level given the poor state of his health. However, the widespread publicity surrounding alleged abuse of thyroid medication in athletics (at Nike Oregan Project) and asthma medication in cycling (at Team Sky, amongst others) led me to seek clarification. The TUE system is a complex one. Indeed, many elite athletes seem to have misunderstood the TUE system in recent years and fallen foul to it’s vagaries (including two athletes whose names often appear on this site in relation to drug-related issues – Maude Mathys and Petro Mamu). So I politely request that you please excuse my ignorance as I am neither an elite athlete nor a sports scientist.

      I will end by saying it seems to be an interesting hypocrisy that the Quartz Program, which has been so publicly critical of the WADA system, are so keen to support what is perhaps the biggest failing (and most widely abused and criticised) aspect of that system – Therapeutic Use Exemptions.

      1. SageCanaday

        Appreciate your comments and looking into this.
        Reach out to me personally (Tweet at me directly) if you need some more details/facts from my experiences etc.
        and I can send you an email.

        I’m worried about more than just TUEs in this sport. We’ve already had people blatantly taking stuff like EPO and getting caught in Mountain-Ultra-Trail Races (in a few tests) over the years. IMO it’s like the “wild west” still from what I’ve seen.

        1. Robert Johnson

          Thanks again Sage.

          I am working on a number of projects at the moment. With my research into the T.U.E. system it was never my intention to focus on one sport. However, you never know where the story will take you (and anyone who has seen the movie ‘Icarus’ will be able to relate to that).

          It seems I have stumbled upon a far bigger (or at least, equally as interesting) story. Namely QUARTZ/Athletes For Transparency.

          I will contact you directly via Twitter if I have any questions. Thanks so much for the offer. However, for balance, it’s also crucial I speak to Pierre Sallet and Michel Poletti, as they seem to be the ‘brains’ behind the Quartz Program. And without their input, there is no story!

          So far I have got the impression that, in Europe at least (I’m uncertain about the U.S.), it is indeed as you say “the wild west”. And given how many mountain/trail athletes have been found guilty of doping offences in the last decade thanks to the WADA testing system (Barbi, Bourifa, Calisto, Charriere, Dewalle, Desco, Joly, Mamu, Mathys, Moletto, Skiold, Vollet) – along with several coaches, most notably Christian Hoffmann and Metin Sazak – it seems strange to me that the I.T.R.A. has felt the need to turn it’s back on this system.

          I wish you good luck in your race on Sunday.


  14. Aspiring MUT guy

    Just read that Greg Vollet himself has served a three-month doping ban:

    While I think it’s awesome how much Salomon is doing to promote the sport right now, it makes me a bit uncomfortable to know they are led by a former doper (even if inadvertent), are inviting convicted dopers to their races (although they have done their time) and implement drug testing that is just for show/marketing purposes (the Quartz Program is not actually testing for drugs and there are never random out of competition tests). There is definitely money in MUT running now, and a few dozen athletes are making good livings off it (I still, perhaps naively, think the majority of top MUT runners are clean). That means we need to take anti-doping seriously and prevent a few athletes from cheating their way to the top.

    As a sponsored (free shoes) but far from professional athlete pursuing MUT because I simply love trail running and someone hesitant to jump on the social media/self-promotion bandwagon really needed to make a living as an MUT runner, all this shady psuedo-drug testing, TUEs and domination of the sport by convicted dopers (when we know most aren’t even being caught) is pretty discouraging and almost makes me wish we could go back 20 years to when there was no money and little mainstream interest in MUT running.

    If I was a little more determined to make it to the top and had more lax morals, it’d be easy to buy some HGH/testosterone, EPO on the interwebs and stop taking it a few weeks before any key race with known testing. On top of that knowing that athletes MUT are abusing grey zone drugs (asthma and thyroid medications) make even more uncomfortable.

    That said I’m super-excited to see what goes down this weekend and really rooting for KJ to take down the record. There’s no reason to think he’s doping and I think he’s the only to have a real shot at the record (probably unlikely; I think it would take a few weeks of dedicated high-altitude training, specific workouts on the Barr Trail and good weather to get the record).

    1. SageCanaday

      More good points.
      Since many MUT Races are private they could simply take a stance like TNF San Fran and Western:

      Top runners who have been convicted with doping infractions in the past are not eligible for open prize money and podium rankings in the race. Simple!

      And QUARTZ is just “health monitoring”….they are not testing under WADA protocol and they can’t enforce WADA kind of penalties if they did find something with any sort of “test” that they might actually do ([what has been my experience] simple finger prick blood draws that aren’t random or a surprise). They let you take a piss container to a private bathroom all by yourself even!

      Totally right with testosterone/HGH and even something as strong as EPO. One could take all that kind of stuff and barely risk a chance of getting caught without any surprise testing between races.

      I guess Pikes hasn’t done that yet as we have convicted doper(s) already in the field going for top podium spots this weekend….

      1. Nicolas

        “I guess Pikes hasn’t done that yet as we have convicted doper(s) already in the field going for top podium spots this weekend….”

        Would you care to be more specific, Sage? Either these runners are actually convicted dopers, in which case iRunFar should/would have mentioned it, or they’re not, in which case I’m not sure what’s the point of hand-wavy insinuations. Or maybe you’re thinking of runners who are not competitive enough to even be mentioned here, but then, if they’ve done their time and are not competing for prize money and awards, who cares, really?

        1. SageCanaday

          Thankfully iRunFar is transparent for #cleansport as they have mentioned a runner in this the field this year that has tested positive (taking a WADA banned drug without a TUE) before. There also have obviously been runner(s) in the past at Pikes that have had positive PED tests to their name. A few weeks ago at Sierre-Zinal there were 3 total runners (including both the men’s and women’s top 10) who had broken WADA rules as well….iRunFar mentioned them all and their infractions.

          I think everyone in the field should complete without powerful performance enhancing drugs and follow WADA rules. This sport is about integrity and honest hard work (That is hard physically because our bodies are put in demanding situations with training and racing). Much like everyone should follow the rules of the course and not cut the race distance short. But I realize many “mid packers” probably aren’t as intentional with the substances/drugs they may take because there is less of a financial incentive and they are unaware of all the rules . For a top sponsored runner: ….they should know exactly what is on the WADA banned list. No excuses.

          1. Stephen

            I completely agree, and it is great that iRunFar mentions past infractions. Unfortunately race organizers and sponsors are not upholding what should be their responsibility.

            As for mid-packers, I definitely don’t think random runners should intentionally cheat, but it’s also unrealistic to test everyone and I don’t expect such runners to, for example, seek a TUE for asthma medication.

            One interesting consequence of the lack of real testing in MUT running is that it creates an imbalance in that athletes who compete in the SkiMo world cup are subject to real WADA testing because skimo is trying to become an olympic sport, whereas athletes who only compete in the running season aren’t.

          2. Nicolas

            I assume you mean Maude Mathys, who is the only one mentioned as such in the previews as far as I can tell. Your insinuations were very vague and may have suggested that male runners on this very page were convicted dopers, of which I find no mention. So, let me reiterate my question, which you haven’t answered. Who are you referring to? If the person was already flagged in the review, no reason not to name them; if not, I have trouble following…

            1. SageCanaday

              Yes, Maude for one. And in the past there has been at least one male runner (not on this page). That is what we know of 100%. These are merely just facts I am reiterating.

              Some more facts that I can state would include my experience with a horrible lack of PED testing in MUT Running on the world stage. Of course I can only speak from personal experience with that though.

              We know there are people getting caught with race day PED tests at a few events (World Mountain Champs, UTMB etc) already.

              Therefore we know the sport is not 100% clean for the elite, sponsored runners.

              You seem to be quite defensive though? What is your stake in the game?

            2. Nicolas

              Sage, I have zero stake in the game, unlike you, and I dislike dopers and cheaters, like you. I’m sorry if I came across as defensive but these are serious issues, which you clearly seem to take seriously, but also lightly to some extent by implicating (or inadvertently letting people wrongly infer) that male runners on the list above are “convicted dopers” when, in fact, we have zero evidence that this is the case. See, you’re running the race, you clearly have a stake. So, by implicating (or, again, inadvertently letting people infer) that some of your competitors might not be clean, you are casting yourself in a particular light. We’ve heard you, time and again, make the same general comments, and they’re fine. But casting aspersions on the field with a broad brush when in fact there is just one runner who is concerned (and, IMO, with clearly extenuating circumstances) is another matter. It’s not fair play. I’m writing all of this as a fan of yours.

            3. SageCanaday

              Again, I have simply stated facts. How you perceive them is up to you.

              The only “insinuation” I would make is that I believe the sport is likely a lot more dirty than many think….just based on those who have already been tripping positive PEDs tests and breaking WADA rules (some multiple times) on race day tests over the years already. Now I can’t prove that…but I would say it is highly likely. But again, I have only stated facts and reiterated what information is already public knowledge.

              Those of us who are sponsored and competing for top podium spots have more incentive to dope. I think there is a ton of incentive. There are a lot of international travel perks, salary/stipends, bonus money, race prize money, gear, and “fame and ego boosting” in social media following to compete at a high level. And in my experience the actual PED testing is very very minimal.

            4. Nicolas

              Sage, you’re not reading my posts, you keep making vague general statements. I asked a question about this single sentence: “I guess Pikes hasn’t done that yet as we have convicted doper(s) already in the field going for top podium spots this weekend….” Other than Mathys, which you didn’t even named to begin with (so much for “stating the facts”), you have not given support for the implication that potentially multiple runners toeing the line with you (and we should assume competing with *you* *this weekend*) are “convicted dopers”. Last I checked Mathys is not competing with you.

              I fully agree with the general sentiment and the facts you allege, however vaguely and hand-wavingly. But the insinuation was much more specific and I think it can inadvertently hurt people. I’m not sure why it’s so hard to understand.

            5. SageCanaday

              Check your reading comprehension. Is English not your first language?
              You are making assumptions on what I wrote and extrapolating this in your own mind. This is your own perception of facts that I have written.

              I wrote “doper(s)” with the “s” in parentheses [that is key here] because I’m acknowledging that there is a possibility that there might be more than 1…but we know there is at least 1. I don’t know an exact number and I certainly wouldn’t write “we have 2+ runners with known doping infractions in the field” (although I did write that for Sierre-Zinal when there were actually 3 in the top 10). And yes and I count both the men’s and women’s fields. Again you falsely assumed I was only talking about the Men’s field (a logical fallacy on your part)….

              And in the past Pikes has let in at least 1 runner in (who finished top 7) I can think of that has had a doping infraction. So that is part of the history as well.

            6. SageCanaday

              Nicolas (and Bryon),
              I apologize for being a bit snarky in my last comment.

              The whole #cleansport thing is something I’m very passionate about and get fired up about (probably too much) so I can get very defensive when it comes to upholding facts and rules of the sport we love.

              I’d like to think this sport is built on integrity and clean, honest hard work. Part of that is respecting not just the rules of the game in sport, but also respecting one another and supporting each other.

              Obviously I’m very biased because my career is on the line. I also am all about transparency (hence why I post under my real name on here) – and again I apologize for my last comment.

              Hope to see you around this weekend.

            7. Nicolas

              Sage, I’ve been civil all along, please don’t insult me. It’s very easy for casual readers to infer from what you wrote that there potentially are several convicted dopers running for podium spots, and given where the comments are made, it’s all the more easy to infer that you were talking about male runners. The charitable reading that I gave is that you were not––you were simply talking about Mathys. I’ve acknowledged that a while back. But again, iRunFar doesn’t give us any reason to suspect in this men’s preview that any convicted dopers are toeing the line. The above exchanges were too ambivalent to rule out that reading.

              Listen, Sage. I already said I’m a fan of yours, but I’m not a fan of people making assumptions about my first language without evidence, changing the subject when I ask simple questions, and back-pedaling when they realize they wrote a confusing sentence. It’s fine to make mistakes. I do all the time, but you can also simply admit that the sentence was a bit confusing in this context. As for the alleged logical fallacy, I could not be making any assumption about what you meant since I was precisely asking you to clarify what you were meant! The point I made is different, and is not a logical fallacy: what you wrote in the present context could *lead people to infer* that you were talking about the men’s field.

              Look, I don’t understand why you’re being defensive. It’s safe to assume you’re clean. In fact, I suspect most of the above runners are as clean as you are. But you’re a regular among iRunFar commenters when it comes to doping. And everyone appreciates your being vocal about this. But that’s why it’s all the more important to be precise, accurate, and evidence-based. We should appreciate the fact that no convicted men are toeing the line for podium spots this weekend as far as we can tell! Implying otherwise (even inadvertently) is not helping anyone.

              All that said, best of luck this weekend. Hope you rock and have a blast. #plantpowered.

              A fan

            8. Nicolas

              “I’d like to think this sport is built on integrity and clean, honest hard work. Part of that is respecting not just the rules of the game in sport, but also respecting one another and supporting each other.”

              Amen to that. No hurt feelings, it’s all good banter.

              Kick asses.

  15. Mike

    They should blow an air horn when Kilian hits the summit to let all the runners know that he is going to come flying down the trail.

  16. Ricardo

    The omission of Colorado’s Seth James DeMoor is a travesty. Anyone following along his journey and training for this race over on his YT channel will know that he has just as much skills, talent, and determination as anyone on this list to podium at this race.

    1. MaxL

      I guess, that’s because this preview is for the marathon only. Seth is running the ascent, not the marathon :). I also enjoyed watching his videos.

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