Photo of last year's Ascent winner from Colorado Runner
Runner's World magazine ran a long story on the Pike's Peak Marathon this month called Peak Experience that said the race has "evolved from a locals-only contest in 1956 pitting 10 nonsmokers against three smokers into an international gotta-do-it."
The story notes "Registration for the 51st Pikes Peak Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, August 20, filled up in a record 23 hours."
But with so much elevation gain, it's still advantage locals.
Marathon legend Matt Carpenter said the first mile above treeline is where many runners falter.
"This mile alone has crushed the dreams of many runners," Carpenter, who holds the course record of 3:16:39, writes in his official course description (skyrunner.com/ppcourse.htm). "From here on up it is about wanting to get to the top. If that means running - awesome. If that means walking - super. If that means crawling - do it. Just keep moving!"