Fit to be Tied Column
August 14, 2009
From the Pueblo Chieftain
by Gary Franchi
The Peak holds special aura for local runner Dehn
The name itself stirs the inner souls of many runners throughout Colorado and the country. It’s mystical, magical and generates a certain awe, respect and trepidation.
On Saturday, 1,800 of those runners will run and walk and navigate up that 14,115-foot beast in the Pikes Peak Ascent, a 13.32-mile jaunt that starts in Manitou Springs and has a 7,815-foot vertical gain including 2,000 feet in the last three miles. Twelve Puebloans will be included in that group. The following day, 800 brave hearts will attempt the round-trip marathon, including four from Pueblo.
Among the Ascenters will be a long-time Pueblo West runner who counts himself among those who put the Peak in an elite category. Ron Dehn, at 61 years young, will be trying to complete his seventh Ascent, perhaps with even more determination after having been turned back near the top last year by the blizzard that spoiled the finishing dream of more than half of the field.
“It’s at the upper end of what I can do,” said Dehn, whose racing distances include short distances up to half-marathons and who only races occasionally.
A runner for 27 years who initially started in order to augment his tennis, Ron did his first Peak in 1997 at the age of 49 and had his best time that year – 4 hours and 18 minutes. While he says it’s getting tougher for him as his age creeps up, Dehn still views the Peak as something special, unique and worth doing.
“I like it because it’s a great challenge and you have to dig so deep,” he explained. “It helps you focus on your training during the year – gives you some incentive to do more and prepares you for other challenges.”
His strategy for tackling the Peak is simple – “You run where it makes sense and you walk fast where that makes sense.”
Dehn noted that he begins to start focusing on the adventure at the start of each year.
“January one I start thinking about it. You train for it physically and mentally,” he explained.
Like many others, he trains on Barr Trail as often as he can get there during the year. A rare perfect training week for him during the heart of his preparation would include about 20 miles of running in town, a couple of days cross training on the bike and 10-14 miles on the mountain itself.
Dehn worked full-time for 31 years at the University of Southern Colorado before retiring in 2001, with his last position being Associate Director of Information Technology Services. He didn’t stay retired long, beginning work two months later as a transfer recruiter two days a week during the main CSU-Pueblo academic year. July 1 marked the start of his 40th year or service to the university, an equally awesome achievement.
Each year, Ron said he gets a boost by having family members cheer him on near the finish, and he expects his wife, Chris, and kids Melissa and/or Jeremy to be there Saturday. The inspiring goes both ways, as the kids are now thinking about running the Rock Canyon Half-Marathon this December in order to qualify for next year’s Ascent. He also may be joined on the 2010 journey by his brother, Dave, who ran the Ascent in the 1980s.
We’ve got one local “doubler” this year – Pueblo West’s Jessie Quintana, who figured that having turned 65 last November was reason enough to attempt both the Ascent and the marathon this weekend.
“I figured I wanted to try doing both just once in my lifetime,” said Jessie, who already has 14 Ascents and six round trips in her career log.
The once-popular Skyline Drive 10K will return to Canon City on Sept. 13 after an absence of several years. It features a challenging 800-foot elevation rise and descent, starting and finishing in Greydene Park in the downtown area. Go to www.ccrec.org for details.
Kim Arline’s quest to raise awareness of and funds for a community trails system in Pueblo West has led to the scheduling of the inaugural Run 4 Trails four-mile run on Sept. 19 at Pueblo West High School. After the race, there will be a bike and pedestrian safety fair featuring a bike safety check, minor repairs and “fix a flat” workshop by the Great Divide bike shop.
The region has two bike rides in September. Downtown Westcliffe will host the Bike With Pike Adventure century ride to Colorado City and back on Sept. 12, and it includes a 69-mile distance round trip to San Isabel plus an 8-mile family ride. The following weekend, the fourth annual Bicycle Ride for Kids will take place on Sept. 20 at the Pueblo Memorial Airport. This is a out-and-back course, and riders can pedal however miles they want up to a maximum of 38 miles round trip to the Transportation Tech Center. Proceeds benefit the Pueblo Child Advocacy Center.
• Sept. 12 – Bike with Pike Adventure (bicycle rides), 100M, 69M & 8M family ride, 6 a.m. – 10 a.m. starts, Westcliffe (www.runwithpike.org).
• Sept. 13 – Skyline Drive, 10K, 8 a.m., Canon City (www.ccrec.org).
• Sept. 20 – Bicycle Ride for Kids, any distance up to 38M, 8:30 am, Pueblo Memorial Airport (583-6332).
• Sept.26 – Danapalooza Trail Run, 5K, 8 a.m., Canon City (www.danapalooza.com).
• Sept.27 – Hot to Trot, 5K, 8 a.m., Pueblo Union Avenue (251-3189).
• Oct. 10 – Autumn River Run, 5M/5K, 9 a.m., Canon City (www.ccrec.org).