The only things able to keep Eagle resident Kim Dobson off Pikes Peak in mid-August seem to be newborns and mother nature.
Last year, it was the arrival of her second child that had her watching the Ascent while her husband, Corey, tackled the Pikes Peak Marathon.
Saturday, it was inclement weather at the summit that nearly halved the Ascent, as the race finished at Barr Camp.
Dobson was once again the first woman to finish, winning the modified race in 1 hour, 15 minutes and 48 seconds — 13 seconds ahead of Corey and nearly five minutes ahead of the second woman, Tess Amer of Boulder (1:21:29).
“He was the one I was having to battle with,” she said of Corey.
The win is Dobson’s sixth in eight Ascents. The 2018 win will be remembered differently than the previous five, however.
“It definitely feels different. I feel like it needs a different name,” Dobson said. “I’m calling it The Mini, because it doesn’t feel — especially the finish line when you’re so high and above treeline — it just has such a different feel.”
Like most other runners, Dobson was surprised to hear about the change of course as she gathered near the starting line in the hour before the race. It was the first time in the 63 runnings of the Ascent where no runners reached the summit.
She thought she had mentally prepared and adjusted expectations for the shorter distance, but a sub-seven-minute first mile — faster than her typical start — made the remainder a grind.
“It was a tough race because I was ready to kind of slowly ease into it, progress,” Dobson said, “and it just turned into a sprint, a long sprint.”
Dobson has done the Ascent each year since 2009 outside of the two years she had her children. Her 2:24:58 Ascent in 2012 remains the record for women, a mark she’s not sure she’ll ever get back to.
“I definitely have to just focus on just doing the best I can because my best time here was in 2012 and I haven’t even gotten close to it since then,” she said.
“I love to see personal improvement, so it’s hard when you know you can’t touch what you’ve done on this mountain.”
Known mostly for her ability to climb, the 34-year-old said one day she would like to switch her focus to the marathon. She’s doubled twice previously, including wins in both the Ascent and Marathon in 2016, but didn’t take the Sunday race all that seriously.
“The doubling was more just for fun,” Dobson said.
“I would kinda race the Ascent and just kinda survive the Marathon.”
She hopes her body, which sometimes reacts negatively to the stress of frequently running downhill, will cooperate enough to see her beat her previous marathon time of 4:44:44.
“I’ll have to pick a year when the body is happy,” Dobson said.
Despite a seventh win in her 10th total race on Pikes Peak, it sounds like Dobson has more business on America’s Mountain.
Azerya Weldemariam, a 39-year-old Colorado Springs resident originally from the east African nation Eritrea, was the men’s winner, reaching Barr Camp in 1:06:26.