Thursday, February 23, 2012

WORLD'S STUPIDEST MARATHON (yes, all caps necessary)

When one Googles World's Toughest Marathon, the search results produce a pretty short list. The Pikes Peak, Everest, Inca Trail, Antarctica, and Sahara marathons are usually are mentioned in the same breath.  One glance at all of them and any astute observer can pick out the common denominator - WTFish terrain or conditions.  (the 4 non-American marathons could all be classified as destination marathons that could be a lot tougher than they are.  i.e. Everest starts at base camp and descends to 11,000'.  Antarctica isn't even in the dead of winter)

I will make this bold statement - The Inclinathon will be the most difficult marathon in the world.  That is, of course, if someone actually completes it.

Brandon has set a date and has welcomed any and all brave souls to participate in this event:  13 trips up and down the Manitou Springs Incline.  Total elevation gain of ~26,000'.  Total loss of ~26,000'.

I made the mistake of agreeing to participate in part of his attempt.  Hell, if he's gonna make 13 trips, what's 6 or 7, right?  Last night, I thought it would be prudent to give a try at just a few laps, maybe 3 or so.  You know, just to get an idea of what to expect.

I now expect carnage.

36:15:  While the very vertical nature of the incline makes it nearly impossible to "go easy", I did my best to throttle down.  The incline is kind of like your old college bar.  It's strangely familiar when you go back, and you're guaranteed to run into the "regulars."  Sure enough, the two people I expected to see were coming down on my first trip up.
Lets do this

55:33 (19:18):  I remember when one trip down these stairs would wreck me for a week.  My quads held up pretty well this time.
All good so far...

1:29:44 (34:11):  Some random dude got behind me at the bottom and wouldn't pass.  This was the easiest trip up for some reason.

1:50:23 (20:39):  The novelty had worn off.  I just wanted to get to the bottom so I could finish up my last lap.  Quads started to do some serious work.
Two fingers to signify two trips, right?

2:23:53 (33:30):  The desire to just be done with this had finally taken over.  Darkness had set in, but the lights of El Paso County gave me all the visibility I needed.  I pushed the last few minutes pretty hard.  Relieved to be done with the "hard" part, I then began my last descent.

2:52:13 (28:20):  One step into the last trip down, I discovered just why 13 trips will be insane.  My legs turned to absolute jelly.  Managing to stay upright became the #1 goal.  Whereas I could take some jogging steps down the first two trips, I was reduced to crawling over obstacles on my last descent.
...and most importantly, the last trip

I can wrap my head around 13 ascents in a day.  I definitely felt another couple of climbs in me.  The way back down, though...that is the killer.  It shows clearly in my splits - each time up got faster, but each trip back down got progressively slower.  Yuck.  Maybe one can become specifically trained for this.  Still.  I'd like to think that I'm somewhat adapted to handle the rigors of steep descents, and three rounds killed me.  Maybe, maaaaaybe, I could pull off four or five trips down without ruining an entire season. 

I will say this:  If Brandon - or ANYONE - completes 13 round-trips of the Incline, I think he can legitimately lay claim to completing the toughest marathon in the world.  I hereby declare a theoretical winning time of 18 hours.


  1. Insane in the membrane for sure.

  2. After reading your FB post last night I decided that this is one that I am going to sit out for sure. I will definitely be there for part of it to watch the carnage go down. Aside from just being a wimp, my biggest concern is that after so many laps and being so tired AND it being dark, coming down that SOB is a sure way for me to ruin the rest of my spring/summer... Crazy.

  3. Such a shame that you people don't respect private property like I do.

  4. Well done with the song sir. 18 hours? Game on!

  5. wow. how about just a quad up the incline and down the barr trail? I think 5 per trip, so 20 total and some actually running.

  6. Andy, you'll cave and end up doing a few laps.

    ED, your suggestion is flatly rejected, as it makes too much sense. This event is supposed to conjure up too many words that mean exactly the opposite.

    8 days later and I finally was able to get another quality workout in. I was literally sore for a week from these shenanigans.