Breckenridge local Laura Rowe provides glimpse into Pikes Peak Ascent half marathon
FRISCO — Seven months after she gave birth to her second child, Laura Rowe, of Breckenridge, powered through to finish Saturday’s Pikes Peak Ascent half-marathon.
In her fifth year running the Ascent, Rowe said there are those “Why am I doing this?” moments throughout each race. This year, Rowe, 32, said she hit that wall of sorts just over the halfway point of the 13.1-mile, 7,815-foot elevation gain race to 14,050 feet, just 65 feet short of Pikes Peak’s iconic summit.
Despite her struggles from miles 7 to 9, Rowe bounced back around mile 10 to power past other struggling runners and finish with a time of 4 hours, 18 minutes and 6 seconds.
It may not have been as fast of a time as Rowe’s previous Ascents, but the Breckenridge resident is proud she was able to finish the grueling race.
“It’s totally worth it,” Rowe said. “There is really no other feeling of crossing that finish line. And it’s such a long race. They don’t allow headphones or anything. So everything that goes through your head, it’s a really nice, alone thought process. There are things you’re thinking about, like how you’re grateful for your health when you’re doing it. And then when you’re not feeling so good, it’s ‘Uh oh, what am I doing?’ But just that sense of accomplishment is like no other after this race.”
Rowe said the key to finishing the race safely is to keep your focus in each moment and to not let yourself get inside your own head too much. Little conversations with fellow racers help the arduous run while climbing from the start at Manitou Springs City Hall up the steep grade that averages 11%.
Rowe said she prepared for the race beginning back in June by running with her stroller, pushing her 3-year-old, Zoey, and 7-month-old, Camden, on the Summit County recpath. Zoey even ran in the town of Frisco’s Mountain Goat Trail Run Series this summer.
Rowe also spent extensive time running trails surrounding her home on Peak 7 in Breckenridge.
• Ryan Soderberg, 42, Montezuma, 5:32:02 (Full marathon, ascent and descent)
• Laura Rowe, 32, Breckenridge, 4:18:04
• Karen Olsen, 36, Dillon, 5:50:49
Using her experience from past races, Rowe knew to get out from the start fast to find an ideal position heading into the narrow switchbacks near the start of the race. After a lull in energy at an aid station halfway through the race, Rowe continued on, facing racing conditions that were different than in past years.
With construction at the summit of Pikes Peak, no friends, family or spectators were allowed up high. Normally, runners can hear the sound of the crowd miles away from the top, Rowe said. The energy of the finish and the motivation to see family and friends can help runners like her through the finish. Without that variable this year, though, Rowe and other runners’ race to the finish was that much harder.
In the end, though, all that matters is that she finished one of the country’s hardest races once again.
“It’s a great runner’s high,” she said.
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