The Golden Trail Series moves continents this weekend, with the fourth race in the inaugural 2018 programme taking place at high altitude in the USA tomorrow.
The Pikes Peak Marathon is the only Golden Trail Series league race out of Europe, apart from the Grand Finale at the Otter African Trail Race in South Africa in October.
The 42km route begins and ends in Manitou Springs, Colorado and climbs from 2,382 meters to a lung-searing elevation of 4 302 metres.
It’s also a race with seemingly unbreakable course records. The men’s record time of 3 hrs 16 min 39 sec has stood since 1991, while the women’s record of 4:15:18 was set in 1981.
With leading South African athletes, including Kane Reilly, Thabang Madiba and Megan Mackenzie, biding their time for the fifth and final league race in Scotland next month and opting instead for the local Whale of Trail, interest will focus on the Europe vs America contest which is taking on “Ryder Cup” proportions.
After a tough race at Sierre Zinal in Switzerland last Sunday, when she struggled to overcome a stomach complaint, finishing 25th, Mackenzie still holds an overall top ten position in the league standings and will be looking to a top race in the fifth and final in the league series in Scotland next month to clinch a final top ten.
On the European side, Norwegian Stian Angermund-Vik, 2nd to Remi Bonnet at Zegama and 3rd at Chamonix, will bring his considerable climbing talent to Colorado and will be one of the strong favourites, alongside Spanish athlete Oriol Cardona.
In the American ‘corner’ are leading American trail athletes Max King, Sage Canaday and Ryan Bak, who will have the advantage of home town knowledge.