Most Viewed Stories
Jornet sets downhill record on way to winning Pikes Peak Marathon
It was a far cry from ordinary for the bloodied and disoriented Alex Nichols at the Pikes Peak Marathon.
The 27-year-old trailed the leader on Barr Trail, then led, then trailed again, then fell over and finally finished second as Spanish runner Kilian Jornet beat him out of the top spot.
It really was a tale of two stories Sunday.
In a race that featured nearly 800 runners, it was the best of times for Jornet, who finished in 3 hours, 40 minutes and 26 seconds, and the worst of times for Nichols (3:47:29).
Tina Forsberg had a come-from-behind victory in the women’s race, finishing in 4:28:07 over Kasie Enman. Read more about the women's race, where Forsberg set a record in her swift descent of the mountain.
For Jornet, it was an “amazing experience.”
“One of the three best marathons in the world,” he said.
Striding to the finish he waved to the crowd, smiled for the cameras - then sat on a padded, foldout chair and casually crossed his legs, ready to answer any question.
“I felt pretty good,” he said in his least fluent language, English; he also speaks Catalan, Spanish, French and Italian. “I knew I needed to stay with Alex up the hill. He is a great runner, and then I knew I could go down the hill faster. That’s what I’m better at. Not so much uphill.”
Jornet, 24, had more than a 2-minute lead at the summit and then he set a record on the way down with a descent time of 1:21:41.
“I knew I had a good chance of keeping the lead once we began down,” said Jornet, who beat the descent record set by Charles Armenta (1:21:58) in 1983. “I’m a technical runner so that’s where I can show my strengths.”
Jornet then walked around, as he and the fans surrounding the intersection of Manitou and Ruxton avenues checked their watches.
“Here comes another one,” a woman yelled.
It was Nichols - and he was sporting “something he’ll be feeling tomorrow.”
Clomping to the line, the ex-Colorado College runner was gashed from elbow to shin. He had tripped, flying to the ground in "a Superman landing” just minutes before.
“With about three miles left I was feeling tired and I just lost focus for a second. Next thing I know my toe caught the ground and … well, yeah,” said Nichols. “Focus is big in a race like this. Sometimes I’ll even say to myself audibly during a race ‘stay focused.’
“Today I just lost it for a bit.”
The day marked the first Pikes Peak Marathon for Nichols and while his cuts jag like a trail of bad luck – at the end, he was only thrilled.
“You know I have done the (Pikes Peak) Ascent three times before this and never finished better than fourth,” he said. “So to get on the podium is just huge. It’s so exciting.”
The race kicked off at Memorial Park at 7 a.m. Sunday and many runners finished well into the afternoon in downtown Manitou.
On mile two, Nichols took the lead.
He was feeling good as he tried to run his own race, but he couldn’t seem to shake Jornet.
“It was driving me ... it was frustrating. I mean he was right behind me and I couldn’t lose him,” he said. “It was great racing on his part but it was frustrating.
“And then I cramped up and he passed me for good.”
Tnough they looked quite different at the finish line, after 26.2 miles, there feelings were mutual: “Very happy,” both said.