Tim Parr hobbled like an old man on the summit of Pikes Peak, his body aching, his mind a mess, as he gasped for air and wrapped a blanket over his freezing shoulders.
He then grabbed a seat, took a swig of water and asked, “Any idea who was second?”
The Western State College graduate honestly didn’t know, since he kept a blistering pace Saturday in running away from a field that lacked Matt Carpenter to claim his first win in the Pikes Peak Ascent.
On a picture-perfect morning for climbing 14,115 feet, Parr, 27, of Gunnison, finished the 13.32-mile course in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 32 seconds, topping Colorado Springs resident Tommy Manning, 33, by 7:27 and Simon Gutierrez, 43, of Alamosa, by 8:56.
It marked the largest margin of victory in the Ascent since Gutierrez won his first of three titles by 17 minutes in 2003 and the fastest time since Carpenter clocked 2:10:41 in 1997. Carpenter, 45, of Manitou Springs, goes for his 10th Marathon title at 7 a.m. today.
On the women’s side, Megan Kimmel, 29, of Silverton, survived a scare by Kim Dobson, 25, of Aurora, for her first Ascent crown. She finished in 2:40:16 to edge Dobson by 1:33 and three-time Ascent champion Cindy O’Neill, 47, of Manitou Springs, by 11:34.
Kimmel’s time was the sixth-fastest in the 46-year history of the women’s Ascent, which lacked the previous four winners in Bailey’s Brandy Erholtz, Maria Portilla, Nederland’s Lisa Goldsmith and Eagle’s Anita Ortiz, a favorite in the 26.21-mile Marathon.
Last year, Parr, a former Colorado Springs resident, fell to Gutierrez by 84 seconds amid a snowstorm that wreaked havoc near the summit. His summer was spent training at high altitude in preparation for the world mountain running championship Sept. 6 in Italy, and Gutierrez admitted he over-trained.
Parr separated from a five-runner pack led by Gutierrez around Barr Camp, about 7 miles into the race, before pulling ahead in the steep switchbacks past timberline. Manning and Gutierrez never saw him again, and Gutierrez lost about 30 seconds after going 50 yards off the trail as he headed beyond the forest.
“I had a 1-minute lead, and I wasn’t sure if I was gaining ground or losing,” Parr said. “I was staying patient and focused and staying in the race, making sure I wasn’t giving into pressure or getting nervous.”
Gutierrez said: “Tim was really strong when he took off, and I could tell I didn’t have it in my legs. With a guy like that, he’s not going to come back.”