Dating 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
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 8/20]
Steamboat 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 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 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.
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.