At every checkpoint of the Pikes Peak Ascent, Kim Dobson would look at her watch and not believe how fast her time was.
Instead of getting excited, it freaked her out a bit.
“It was kind of scary to be going through those marks so much faster than I did last year,” Dobson said Saturday.
Dobson never let up or hit the proverbial wall at her rapid pace. Her time of 2 hours, 24 minutes, 59 seconds set a women’s record in the Ascent and had everyone at the summit buzzing. The 28-year-old from Grand Junction not only broke the 31-year-old record, she obliterated it. Her (gun) time was more than eight-and-a-half minutes better than the old record, set in 1981 by Lynn Bjorklund. Dobson finished sixth overall, one spot ahead of Simon Gutierrez, a three-time men’s Ascent champion.
See a slide show of the race HERE.
“Nobody has been close,” said Scott Elliott, an eight-time Ascent champion who has helped coach Dobson the past couple of years. “There’s been Olympians. There’s been people from other countries. There’s been people who have run extremely fast flat marathons. But they come, and they’re humbled. That record has stood that long for a reason. It takes someone really special and incredibly focused and believes in her training.”
Jason Delaney of Golden won the men’s event in 2:13:19, beating Rickey Gates by a little more than 2 minutes. Delaney’s first Ascent championship was a surprise and for a few minutes was the talk of the group waiting at the finish line, until it became evident Dobson was on pace for a historic day.
Dobson, who missed setting the women’s record by a little more than 30 seconds during her championship run last year, said as she trained she thought breaking 2 hours and 30 minutes was possible.
Then she started running Saturday, and found the conditions were good and she felt great and relaxed.
She finished much faster than her optimistic goal of 2:30 – and seemed to get congratulatory hugs and took photos at the summit for longer than that.
“That was a really cool surprise,” Dobson said. “I was thinking if I ran a 2:30 I’d be really happy.
“It felt like I was in a dream, actually.”
Dobson won $2,000 for winning the race, $2,000 for breaking the record and took a $5,000 bounty that was established this year for finishing in less than 2:32. She easily beat second-place finisher Ellie Keyser, who finished in 2:38:13 in her Ascent debut.
Ascent coordinator Ron Ilgen said he was in awe, and Dobson’s performance was one of the best he has seen during his 18 years with the race. Elliott said he thinks Dobson can improve upon her record in upcoming years. Dobson’s husband, Corey, was surprised by her incredible time, but also thought she could break it.
“I think if she desires, she could do it,” Corey Dobson said. “We’re just enjoying the ride right now.”
In the men’s event, Delaney got off to a fast start and kept the lead for much of the race. Not that it was easy.
Two years ago he was running well when he and a group of three others made a wrong turn. Last year he finished fourth coming off an injury. Coming into this year’s race he was unsure if he had trained enough, considering he has been busy with his job as a structural engineer and being a father to his daughters, who are 3 and 2 years old.
“It worked out OK,” Delaney said.
Delaney said he did struggle with cramping in his calves, which cropped up with about three-and-a-half miles to go. He stopped for about 15 seconds at one point to stretch.
“I was really struggling,” Delaney said.
He said adrenaline took over for the last stretch of the race, as he pushed through some pain to beat Gates and third-place finisher Ryan Hafer of Colorado Springs.
“No guts, no glory, I guess,” Delaney said. “Just going for it.”
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