Brandon Stapanowich came down from Pikes Peak at about 8:45 p.m. Saturday to find fellow Pikes Peak Ascent runners enjoying themselves with food and drink. He was briefly enticed to join them.
"There I was still in my running stuff," he said. "I had a choice to make. I mean, nobody knew I was there, nobody cared what I was doing.
"But there was no good reason to stop."
His body felt fine, the sky was clear with the full moon providing good light, and so he proceeded to his third consecutive 26.21-mile trip up and down the 14,115-foot mountain. He was curious to see how well he'd do against the night and against those "sleep demons" ultra runners fight in darkness.
Mostly, he was interested in completing his mission: four back-to-back trips up and down Barr Trail.
The 31-year-old physical therapist living in Manitou Springs completed that fourth lap the next day as part of the Pikes Peak Marathon.
He finished the third lap just before 5 a.m., took a quick nap in his Honda Element, and was in the pack of runners for the 7 a.m. Marathon start. At the end, he had climbed about 31,260 feet and covered 100 miles in 30 hours, 7 minutes and 34 seconds running - time marked with his spot tracker.
"It was good," Stapanowich said in a Tuesday phone call. "It was kind of a last-minute decision, really."
He hadn't committed to the four laps. "I didn't want the extra pressure of doing it," he said. He was concerned about the weather, and he wasn't sure how his body would feel: After all, only 35 days prior, he had finished fast-packing the Colorado Trail's 485 miles in nine days, 14 hours and 28 minutes, record time for someone carrying his own supplies.
But he felt fine, so he kept going despite nausea that hit him on the way up the mountain late Saturday. He fueled himself with granola bars, beef jerky sticks and the grapes and jelly beans from the race course aid stations.
In his 15 years as race director, Ron Ilgen never had heard of such a feat. Stapanowich casually mentioned his run as he crossed the Marathon's finish line Sunday.
"He just said, 'Yeah, I just did this,'" Ilgen said. "He's not a show boat guy. He wasn't strutting around or anything.
"These distance runners, they're always looking for the next challenge," Ilgen added. "I think maybe it's just about doing something that nobody else has ever done before."
Stapanowich doesn't believe he's the first to achieve the four-lap feat. He got the idea for it three years ago, when he read online about race results for the "Pikes Peak Quad" of June 3-5, 1995. Among the seven listed participants, famed ultra runner Marshall Ulrich finished second in 35 hours and 19 minutes, behind the winning time of 33 hours and 10 minutes.
"I actually tried it a couple years ago as a birthday run," Stapanowich said. The weather turned nasty, and for a while he sought refuge in Barr Camp's bathrooms. "It took me 42 hours. So I was inspired to try again and see how fast I could go."
Stapanowich has been inspired over the year to invent other extreme adventures, like the Inclinathon - 13 laps of the Manitou Incline, amounting to 26 miles and 26,000 feet of climbing. His record of 11 1/2 hours has since been broken. He later founded the Ultrainclinathon - a 24-hour affair on the Incline in which participants go up and down as many times as they can. As far as he knows, his 22 laps still stands as the record.
"A lot of people ask me why, and I don't really have the answers," Stapanowich said. "I just enjoy the challenges and the feeling of accomplishment that comes after it."
He didn't stick around for the Pikes Peak Marathon awards late Sunday afternoon.
"I knew I had work the next day," he said. "So I knew I had to get home and get to bed."
Contact Seth Boster: 636-0332