In her Pikes Peak debut, Megan Kimmel ran like the wind, then almost ran out of gas.
The Silverton resident amassed a sizeable lead Saturday in the Pikes Peak Ascent to pull away from three-time champion Cindy O’Neill before needing a late burst to fend off the hard-charging Kim Dobson through the treacherous switchbacks.
A 29-year-old massage therapist, Kimmel lost her fast pace once she reached timberline, about 2,100 feet from the 14,115-foot summit, and Dobson, 25, of Aurora, closed the gap so much, she nearly won the 13.32-mile race. Kimmel prevailed by 93 seconds.
“When you’re breathing not as much air, it becomes more technical, and you have to take bigger steps, and you’re just tired,” said Kimmel, who will skip the Marathon today with men’s Ascent champion Tim Parr of Gunnison. Both registered, but they’re competing at the world mountain running championship Sept. 6 in Italy.
Knowing the separation she built on Dobson around Barr Camp — about 8 miles onto the course — had dwindled, Kimmel accelerated in the final mile.
“There were a couple times I looked down, and she was right behind me,” said Kimmel, who collected $1,000 and could make another $1,000 if no woman tops her uphill time (2 hours, 40 minutes, 16 seconds) in the Marathon. “I had to put an extra hop in my step.”