MANTIOU SPRINGS, Colo. — The race to the top of America’s mountain is on. The annual Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent is happening this weekend in Manitou Springs, beginning on Saturday, Sept. 17.

FOX21 caught up with one Colorado native with a special history in this local race. Doug Laufer has been running the Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent since 1986, and has only missed two years participating in the races.

“I’ve done at least one of the races each year. I’ve had so many interesting, wonderful, crazy experiences on the mountain on the peak,” said Laufer, Pikes Peak Marathon runner.

Laufer has been running his whole life, but said this marathon is unlike any other. “The Pikes Peak marathon really doesn’t have a lot in common with any other marathon, so it’s more of an ultra experience,” said Laufer.

Runners take on 7,800 feet of elevation gain as they trek up Barr Trail to the summit of Pikes Peak. The Ascent climbs 13.3 miles to finish at the summit. The Marathon race includes going back down to Manitou Springs, for a total of 26.2 mountain miles.

“I love the top three miles once you get past A-frame above Timberline. Not a lot of air. The flatlanders that have come out, are kind of wondering why they signed up for it,” said Laufer.

Laufer said the most memorable years have been when weather didn’t cooperate, because being a Colorado native truly separates you from the pack.

“…My pace and performance doesn’t change a whole lot from good weather to bad weather. And so I tend to do better overall when the weather’s bad,” said Laufer.

Even a hip replacement isn’t slowing Laufer down, as he gears up for this year’s race.

“In my younger days, I didn’t run for health, but now I’m glad that I ran when I was younger because I see the pay offs that come from an active lifestyle. Running is just a beautiful way to celebrate life,” said Laufer.

The Ascent starts in downtown Manitou Springs Saturday at 7:00am with the Marathon kicking off Sunday at 7:00am. Click here for more information on the event.