The Colorado Springs Gazette

A heart of a winner


Pikes Peak Marathon 2023 runner-up Seth Demoor reaches out to his wife Brigid Demoor as one of his six children and other supporters cheer him on at the finish line of the Pikes Peak Marathon in Manitou Springs on Sunday. “It was so fun to cheer him on,” Brigid said. “He’s perfect.”

Nearly 600 runners competed in the 2023 Pikes Peak Marathon on Sunday, vying for an opportunity to dethrone last year’s winners.

But Jonathan Aziz and Kristina Mascarenas refused to relinquish their titles in Manitou Springs for the 68th annual event.

Aziz and Mascarenas repeated as champions in the male and female categories with Aziz clocking in at 3 hours, 43 minutes and 45 seconds.

Mascarenas also finished seventh overall and set a personal-best time of 4:31.33, crushing her previous best of 4:37.34 set last year.

Both runners crossed the finished line sporting painful keepsakes all over their bodies courtesy of the race. For Aziz, his minor injuries briefly stopped his race.

Aziz fights through fall for victory

“This is nothing compared to last year,” Aziz said pointing to a pair of bandages on his right kneecap and another pair between his right wrist and elbow. “Last year, I had to come down and get my chin stitched up.”

Aziz didn’t require sutures this year. But the fall, which he said happened around Barr Camp, caused the Colorado Springs runner discomfort.

“Of course, there was an immediate shock and for the next 30 seconds afterward, I had to steady myself. But after that I was able to get into a rhythm,” Aziz said. “After that, it wasn’t too bad.”

As Aziz brushed aside that pain, he also needed to ward off Seth Demoor.

Demoor, who placed second in Saturday’s ascent race and second in the marathon, remained near Aziz for much of the 26.2-mile race.

Both runners swapped the lead several times between the opening mile and the 21-mile mark. When Aziz caught Demoor nearly two miles from the summit, he delivered a succinct message.

“I commended him for an incredible weekend,” Aziz said. “Then I said, ‘ Who knows what’s going to happen on the way down?’ And we had two more lead changes.”

Demoor caught Aziz shortly after the summit. But 21 miles into the race, Aziz noticed Demoor’s eased pace and capitalized.

“When I came by, he was going a little bit slower and it seemed like he was cruising,” Aziz said. “I still wasn’t sure that was our final lead exchange, but I was confident after that pass.”

As Aziz walked to get refreshments and snacks to refuel, he had a noticeable limp, which he managed to stave off during the competition.

While happy to earn back-to-back Pikes Peak Marathon victories, Aziz also noted his gratitude in finishing the event.

“I’m just glad it’s over because it was a tough one today,” Aziz said. “It’ll feel better later. Right now I’m just glad I’m not running anymore.”

Mascarenas sets new personal record

Mascarenas crossed the finish line, her hands dropped toward the ground, making some spectators and workers believe she would throw up.

Nope, Mascarenas just needed room for a cartwheel to celebrate her finish.

“Before the race, I promised a couple of people that I’d do a cartwheel when I finished. It started as a joke and almost ended with a cramped leg,” Mascarenas said with a laugh. “I did gymnastics for a decade, so a cartwheel is something I can still do.”

Like Aziz, Mascarenas ran a portion of the marathon with an injury as she sported blisters on her feet.

Following her cartwheel and a plethora of congratulations from spectators and friends, Mascarenas sat, removed her right shoe and revealed a dark red, quarter-sized blister on her big toe.

Mascarenas also showed a blister from the middle of her right foot to near the heel.

“I will be paying greatly for this,” Mascarenas said.

“This” referred to her shoe choice. Mascarenas ran in new shoes to avoid difficulty due to lingering snow.

“I picked new shoes because I was concerned about the ice,” Mascarenas said. “I knew the shoes weren’t great for my toes, but they had the most amount of grip, so I went for it.”

Sure, Mascarenas’ shoe choice hurt postrace. However, during the marathon, her sneakers and decision making proved fruitful.

While speaking to the event’s announcers, the three-time champ who won in 2017 and 2022, said she “went out hard” to start the race and wanted a personal-best time.

Mascarenas wrote five split times on her left wrist, two for Barr Camp and A-frame and one for the summit, to remain privy of her goals.

“I wanted to have a rough estimate in mind to keep me on the right track,” Mascarenas said. “I focused on the climb this year because I’m not known for being the best climber. I wanted to have one of my best times for going up. Then I figured I would try to hold on on the way down. I knew where I needed to be and when I needed to be there. When I wasn’t around any women, I told myself, ‘Stay on your game. You know what you’re doing. Keep your pace.’

“I ran up with two guys and we were able to pace each other the whole way up. It was beautiful.”





The Gazette, Colorado Springs