Pikes Peak Ascent

Wow, what an adventure today was! Last night I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. to get an early start on my day photographing the Pikes Peak Ascent, but the alarm proved to be unnecessary as I awoke at 4:20 a.m. on my own wired up and ready to go! One cup of coffee and a couple of toasted frozen waffles later I was on my way down the pass. My parking plan worked perfectly as I pulled into the end spot in the free parking area at the middle school. A short walk down the hill and I was in the midst of the action, albeit an hour early.

Finish Line

Pikes Peak Ascent Finish Line

I needed a few minutes to get my equipment ready and talk to the race officials so that was fine with me. A couple of nice people described to me in detail how I would be able to get a ride to the peak in the media van and I just wanted to pat them on their heads and say to them, “Silly people, if you only knew me you would know that there isn’t a chance on God’s green earth that I will be in that van when it leaves.”… Got some great shots of the race start, including some of our next Runners World Cover Girl, Jill Howard 🙂 Sure enough, when the time came the media van was nowhere to be found but I fortunately ran across the guys hauling the time keeping equipment to the top and hitched a ride with them.

Pikes Peak Highway is amazing. It winds around all over that mountain giving fantastic views in almost every direction imaginable. From there I could see Woodland Park and Rampart Reservoir, the Springs, South Park and from the summit you can probably see the Atlantic and Pacific if your eyes are good enough! Well that could be a slight exaggeration, but suffice it to say you can see a long ways.

On my way through the Summit House at 14,115 feet I reached into the pocket of my photography vest to get my sunglasses and felt a piece of paper. What do you know if it wasn’t a $20 bill. So I bought some food and as I ate breakfast I knew this was going to be a great day! It only takes the fastest men a little over two hours to run the thirteen miles from Manitou town center to the top so that only left me about 20 minutes to get into position. I hiked down the mountain a few switchbacks and found a spot with a good view and waited for the action. It wasn’t long before I had the first place man and woman in the bag so I headed down a bit further for a different view.

I had found out from Jill what her predicted finish time was and I liked my original location better so as the time for her finish drew near I hiked back up the trail to try to get a shot of her nearing the finish line. And right on time, there she was with a big smile and a greeting! After all these years I finally met her in person 🙂 At that point with almost 500 images on the chip I decided to just make my way to the top and chat with her and William for a while. So great to talk with them in person after so many years of internet friendship.

I heard the train whistle for the Cog Railway and I have been wanting to get a shot of that train for so long… so up to the peak for the train shots. Word to the wise.. there could be two trains, not one! The train headed out and I ran along the tracks to get a shot of it descending down the mountainside when I heard another whistle right behind me. Yikes… a second train bearing down on me. Fortunately it didn’t have time to get up much speed at that point so I just hopped off the tracks and took advantage of a second chance at the pictures 🙂

After that, nothing much to do but get back down to Manitou. There were plenty of shuttle vans taking the runners back down and my handy staff and press pass badges were good for a free trip back to the bottom. Once my feet were on the ground in Manitou, dressed for 14,000 feet I thought I was going to die in the 90 degree heat. Luckily it was only a few blocks to my air conditioned Miata. Now… to process 500 pictures and write an article for the Examiner. I’m sure it will be an easy task to write of such an awesome experience 🙂

Be sure to subscribe to my Examiner news feed so you will be sure to receive notification as soon as the article is published!

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Happy New Year 2015

Happy New Year… 2015! 2014 is behind us and we have a whole new year took look forward to. I do so with some trepidation however, as each successive new year seems to come with a new wave of problems to deal with.

halo

Halo on the Pikes Peak

I actually started my 2015 celebration by taking advantage of the cold and snow day on Nov. 29, 2014 with a look back at my images from 2014. Using Photoshop, I browsed every photo session from 2014 looking for good examples of each for my 2014 review. I created a new photo album for my S. W. Krull Imaging Facebook page to contain these images and also started my iStock 2015 year off with a bang by uploading that batch there as well. It started out to be a pretty good year with some good photo shoots of snow and wildlife in the Pike National Forest and some hikes to Bald Mountain to look at Pikes Peak from above the tree line on the other side of the valley. The year finished with a bang as well with several excellent photo ops here in Woodland Park, including the USA Pro Challenge, a Veterans Motorcycle Rally, the Cruise Above the Clouds car show, Oktoberfest and Apache the wolf at Native American Day.

2014 was a pretty good year for my Examiner role as I finally achieved “Newsworthy” status there by reporting on the previously mentioned events here in the City Above the Clouds. I also finished 2014 up with a couple of Examiner articles, one discussing the 2015 racing schedule and another about making a New Year’s Resolution to run instead of packing on more pounds for the rest of winter.

2014 turned into a pretty good year for the wolves with a couple of surprising developments at the end of the hunting seasons when federal judges finally ascertained that the states were not honest stewards of wildlife they had been entrusted with. Wolves in four of the worst killing states have been placed back under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Other more progressive states such as California are working to assure that the wolves receive adequate protection from trophy hunters and trappers. My hope is that in 2015 trapping will be seen to be the barbaric and unnecessary practice that it is and the majority of people with good hearts will lobby hard for it to be banned for good in the U.S.

Unfortunately my aspirations were slowed a bit at the end of 2014 when my trusty camera bought the farm, but it was probably getting time for a new one anyway. My rule of thumb is to get a new one when I can double my megapixels. My Canon 40D had 10mp sensor and if I am not mistaken the 70D and 7D MkII both have 18mp sensors, which is close enough to double the 40D especially considering the advancements in technology that has occurred since 2008. I am excited to see what new capabilities I will acquire with the new technology.

Also in 2015 I hope to score a copy of Adobe Light Room. I have been struggling along with an old version of photoshop for years now and have been salivating at the color management tools available in the new software. And of course I hope 2015 is filled with many exciting photo ops. The Lost Creek Wilderness has long been on my to do list and perhaps 2015 will be the year.

2015 is looking like it is going to be a great year. I am hoping the best for myself and my friends as well. Happy New Year!

Winter 2015

Fall has come to an end and winter is nearing its official start as the solstice nears. There was however time in the season for the Wolf and Wildlife Action Group (WWAG) to make one more Peaceful Civil Disobedience Action (PCD) trip in an effort to help wolves in Wisconsin. Fortunately there was a Colorado angle to the story as one of our own attended the action and gave me a reason for an Examiner report on the trip. Wisconsin is one of the worst wolf killing states of all, allowing and even encouraging the barbaric practice of hounding. I sincerely hope the PCD and the ensuing media attention will give considerable help to the wolves.

Winter-Series-3The winter running season in Colorado is nearly upon us as winter racing series are starting up in January and running through the winter with increasing distances in an effort to help people build up their endurance for the busy summer marathon schedule. I am currently engrossed in various running calendars trying to come up with a guide to the best runs in the Front Range which I hope to be able to publish on the Examiner by Christmas.

With any luck, my report will coincide with some white stuff so we can have a white Christmas to enjoy along with my winter running report. Be sure to subscribe to my Examiner news feed so you can receive notifications immediately as I publish new articles and updates.

Comfort Zone

A perfect morning here in the mountains, cool and crisp under the amazing blue Colorado sky. I enjoyed smelling the pines while drinking my morning coffee and pondering my next project.

It occurred to me that we about three weeks out from the Leadville 100 Mile Run and even though I’m not running I still have the feeling of excitement and anticipation that I had when I was running. The last three weeks are crucial to race planning so I published an article of advice for activities that help round out the last three weeks of the year long preparation for the race.

So that about  covers the summer race reporting for my Examiner column except for the Pro Bicycle Series which I will be covering right in my home town. Looking ahead, I am going to be coming out of my comfort zone. Doing stories on events and places is one thing, an interview with  a real person is another. I’m going to jump into the deep end and am going to do an exclusive story on a woman who is recovering from brain surgery. Stay tuned to the Examiner as I follow her efforts to go from brain surgery to the Boston Marathon.

Summer

Working on my new ideas for my outdoor sports and recreation reporting job for the Examiner. Reporting on summer running opportunities in the Colorado Front Range was one of the ideas that came to me the other day, so I have been busy researching the racing calendars and contacting race directors the last couple of days.

Fresh off the press are new articles on summer trail runs and the summer races on the Pikes Peak Road Runners Calendar. I was surprised to discover how popular trail running has become since I last was involved. I highlighted a few in my report on Summer Trail Running. The busy PPRR schedule this summer includes the Summer Series, the Triple Crown of Running, and even a running festival to benefit the Wildlife Rescue Center in Keenesburg.

I hope I can get to some of these events and get some pictures and write some first hand reports so everyone can see what we are up to in the beautiful mountains of Colorful Colorado!