Runners encouraged to race up fourteener |

Runners encouraged to race up fourteener

Shauna Farnell

Hiking up a 14er is a novelty for most people, but racing up one is a prize unto itself, and a rare opportunity for Summit County athletes.

This summer, there are only two 14er races in Colorado – the Pikes Peak marathon in August and the Mount Evans Ascent, which takes place at 8 a.m. Saturday and is organized by Dillon resident Danelle Ballengee, whose company is appropriately entitled I’m Crazy Events. Ballengee set a world record in 2000 when she ran up and down Colorado’s 55 14,000-plus-foot peaks in 14 days, 14 hours and 49 minutes.

The Mount Evans Ascent begins at Echo Lake, at the intersection of Squaw Pass and Mount Evans roads, about 14 miles from Idaho Springs and travels 14.5 miles up North America’s highest paved road, nearly to the summit of the 14,264-foot peak.

“It’s a big difference to run at 14,000 feet rather than 12,000,” said. Dr. James Oberheide of Keystone, who first did the Ascent 25 years ago, when the race was much larger and organized by the YMCA. “It’s all on the paved road, and it’s beautiful. Almost the whole race is above timberline. It’s not as steep and rocky as the Pikes Peak race, but there are some people that pretty much walk the entire thing.”

There is a limit of 4 1/2 hours for the race, which Ballengee said is enough time even for fast walkers.

“You can walk at a good clip and still make the cut off,” she said. “It’s challenging. You get a lot of mountain runners entering because of the altitude and climbing. You’ve got to be fit enough to run or walk 14 miles at high altitude. It’s not easy, but you don’t have to be a superhero to do it. You don’t want to sign up if you haven’t been doing any running in the winter or are a big couch potato.”

Aid stations will be located at about every three miles of the course with water, Hammer Gels, energy bars and fluid replacement drinks. Racers are required to carry a long sleeve shirt or jacket for the possibility of colder weather near the summit, and there will be a shuttle van to take racers down, though friends are allowed to meet participants at the finish line. Awards will be given to the top three male and female competitors in different age categories and an awards party with food, drinks and raffle prizes will take place at 1:30 p.m. at the Indian Springs Resort in Idaho Springs.

Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at

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