The Pikes Peak Ascent will be held on Saturday, August 21. This year’s race is hosting the 7th WMRA World Long Distance Challenge, an event which brings together athletes from around the globe to compete for team and individual prizes. Last year’s Challenge was held in Austria. Previous hosts included Switzerland, France, and Great Britain. The U.S. also hosted in 2006 with the Pikes Peak Marathon. The event will be hosted in Slovenia in 2011.

Each country participating in the Challenge must designate their team members prior to race day. Teams can include up to five athletes with the top three to score. Team results will be calculated from the aggregate time of the best three athletes in each team. In the event of a tie, the team with the third runner nearest the winner will take precedence. Among the countries expected to compete are Slovenia, England, Scotland, USA, and Australia.

Representing Team USA on the men’s side will be Eric Blake, New Haven, Conn., Rickey Gates, Aspen, Colo., Zac Freundenburg, St. Louis, Mo., Tommy Manning, Colorado Springs, Colo, and Ryan Hafer, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Blake, Gates, and Manning (runner-up at last year’s Ascent) will be representing the U.S. at the World Mountain Running Championships this September in Slovenia. Both Blake and Gates are veterans of the World Mountain Running Championships having competed there four times previously, though neither has raced the Ascent. Freudenberg recently competed in the NACAC Mountain Running Championships for Team USA, is a past member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team (’08, ’09), and has competed in the Ascent with a best finish of fourth place. Even though Hafer has not yet represented USA on a mountain team, he is an accomplished mountain runner having won the Ascent in 2005 and the Barr Trail Mountain Race earlier this month.

The five women on Team USA are all from Colorado, each has been on a past, or is on the current U.S. Mountain Running Team, and all but two have raced the Pikes Peak Ascent.

Brandy Erholtz, Bailey, is a three-time mountain team member (’08, ’09, ’10) and a past winner on the Peak (2008). Megan Kimmel, Silverton, a two-time mountain team member (’08, ’09), and the defending champion at the Ascent, Lisa Goldsmith, Nederland, two-time mountain team member (’97, ’06) and a seven-time finisher at the Ascent including two wins. New on the Peak this year will be Laura Haefli, Del Norte, four-time mountain team member (’04, ’05, ’07, ’08) with a bronze individual medal in 2007, and Kelli Lusk, 2003 mountain team member. Both Haefeli and Lusk have raced and won the Barr Trail Mountain Race which is a precursor to the Ascent.

Nancy Hobbs