Pikes Peak Ascent canceled for 2020, organizers hoping to hold marathon

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The 2020 Pikes Peak Ascent has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, race organizers said Thursday.

Organizers plan to seek state approval to hold the Pikes Peak Marathon.

The two races, which bring thousands of people to Manitou Springs each year, were set for August 22 and 23. Runners who have already registered will be receiving emails explaining their options.

Ascent canceled

“The size and format of this event, a one-way race of 1,800 runners to the top of Pikes Peak with van transportation to the base, drove the decision to cancel it outright,” organizers said in a statement. “Both the large number of runners and the need for safe transportation off the summit are problematic due to COVID-19 restrictions. With social distancing requirements, race organizers could not secure enough vans or volunteer drivers to carry runners down safely and in a timely manner.”

“As well, with the summit being an active construction site, there simply isn’t sufficient space to protect hundreds of runners as they queue up for the ride back down, especially in adverse weather,” the statement continued. “The construction also means we cannot allow personal vehicles to travel to the summit to pick up their runners. While organizers considered the option of a 13-mile race halfway to the summit and back down, the trail congestion would have been problematic from a public health standpoint.”

“These complications unique to the Ascent have tied the board’s hands. With limited options at the summit, a safe, efficient, and enjoyable event simply isn’t possible.”

Runners who have already registered for the Ascent have three options: get a full refund, defer their entry to the 2021 race, or donate half their race fees to El Paso County Search and Rescue and the Rocky Mountain Field Institute. For those who defer or donate, qualifying times for the 2020 race will be honored in 2021.

Marathon still hopeful

Organizers said that because there are only 800 runners allowed in the marathon, and most runners self-power themselves off the summit, they are requesting a variance to allow the event to take place this year. The variance, which has not yet been submitted, will need to be approved by El Paso County Public Health, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and Gov. Jared Polis.

“We are hopeful that with a detailed plan for additional social distancing and health and safety measures, the state will consider our request to hold the Marathon with the appropriate changes required for 2020,” organizers said in a statement. “That said, if the race is held, it won’t look like it has in past years. The board is examining every aspect of the race including the aid stations, post-race parties, awards ceremony, etc. While the goal is to provide a high-quality event, the safety of the runners and volunteers is paramount. More details will be published once approval is granted.”

Runners who would like to withdraw from the 2020 race have three options: defer to the 2021 race, receive a full refund, or receive a 50% refund and donate the other 50% to El Paso County Search and Rescue and the Rocky Mountain Field Institute. For those who defer or donate, qualifying times for the 2020 race will be honored in 2021. If the race ends up being canceled, more options will be provided.

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