Nielson Challenge 2014 @ 8:00 AM

North Monument Valley Park

Race Director

Al Grimme

Race Dates

  • Nielson Two Mile Challenge FREE — Sat, Jan 04
  • Nielson Two Mile Challenge FREE — Sat, Mar 01
  • Nielson Two Mile Challenge FREE — Sat, Apr 05
  • Nielson Two Mile Challenge FREE Summer Series Event #1 of 5 — Sat, May 03
  • Nielson Two Mile Challenge FREE — Sat, Jun 07
  • Nielson Two Mile Challenge FREE — Sat, Jul 05
  • Nielson Two Mile Challenge FREE Summer Series Event #4 of 5 — Sat, Aug 02
  • Nielson Two Mile Challenge FREE — Sat, Sep 06
  • Nielson Two Mile Challenge FREE — Sat, Oct 04
  • Nielson Two Mile Challenge FREE — Sat, Nov 01
  • Nielson Two Mile Challenge FREE — Sat, Dec 06
more information from RRCA on the policy Following guidelines from the Road Runners of Clubs of America (RRCA), Pikes Peak Road Runners discourages and in most cases, does not allow use of headphones in its races. The rationale for this is simple: the majority of our races are held on trails, which are crowded with many other runners (and sometimes other trail users). Maintaining one’s sensory capacity during such situations is paramount for the safety of all participants.

General Information

Entry Fee

None (Yes, there is a free lunch -- your dad was wrong.)

Race Format

The first time you run this event, you'll establish a base time for yourself. This base time is used to generate a handicap time. The handicap time is calculated using an algorithm developed by Bob Royse, and it's geared to favor a beginning runner and the slower runners. Click here for an explanation of the handicap algorithm.

Once you have an established handicap, you are racing against your handicap time. The person who improves the most from their handicap time is the winner. Each month the results are sent off to Bob Royse and he fires up his Nielson algorithm and regenerates all of the handicap times based on the latest result data.

As mentioned before, the handicap does favor a beginning runner or a slower runner who is putting in a lot of quality training time, as it's these types of runners who tend to have significant time improvements running the same course. But the race is also good for established runners and the swift of feet because it gives those runners a good indication of their fitness level. It's the same 2 mile course each month. Thus given similar weather conditions, you have a very good basis to check out your running fitness from month to month.


At each monthly race, the person who improves the most over their handicap earns a Nielson shirt. Their name also goes on the Nielson plaque for that month. At the PPRR membership dinner and meeting in November, the person with the most Nielson wins during the past 12 months is recognized as the year's winner and gets to keep the Nielson plaque. (A new plaque is then started for the next 12 months.) If multiple people have won the Nielson an equal amount of times, then the yearly award is determined by the person who improved over their handicap by the greatest amount.

The shirts are generously donated by Michael Schenk of EON Studios, located at 836 N Institute in Colorado Springs (633-7986). Visit EON Studios for all of your screen printing needs. Michael gets his exercise on a bicycle, while his wife Susan does the running in the family.

Event History

Bob Mutu wrote the following article for the PPRR newsletter in the early 2000s. It gives a very good narrative of the history behind this event. The event is in its third decade and has never missed a month.

Nielson Challenge by Bob Mutu

One of the things that I really like about the PPRR is the Nielson Challenge. Due to injuries and the lack of soft trails in Okinawa I didn't run my last two years there. Coming home to Palmer Park and Monument Valley Park has rejuvenated my desires! One of the biggies is the Nielson Challenge. I haven't read much about that run so let me tell you all about it.

Originally, at least as far back as I go, around 1980 it was run on a two mile course in South Monument Valley Park. At that time the race was directed by Phil and Julie Foster. Bob Royse did the results handicapping then and he still does them today. At that time it was simply called the Two-Mile Handicap. The course ran a loop north from the parking lot at the Cache La Poudre Bridge on the paved road then looped back along the west side of the creek where it crossed over Cache La Poudre and ran across the parking lot to the sidewalk then south to the creek. From there it ran up the trail along the west side of the creek (back then there was no footbridge) to finish at the Cache La Poudre Bridge

Phil moved it to North Monument Valley Park in the mid eighties, I suspect due to the congestion, running on the road and crossing over Cache La Poudre Street Bill Bennett measured off a new exact two mile course.

In the late eighties Larry Nielson joined our club. He was thirty-eight and wanted to get into condition. He started running the two mile handicap in early winter and ran it every month, winning it one time as I recall. Larry attached himself to me and asked me lots of running questions and wanted to run with me. I remember one five miler that Runners Roost had over in Palmer Park at their past branch store located there. Larry came up to me and asked me what pace we wanted to run (I was pacing a friend). I told him about seven-thirty per mile and he asked if it was OK if he ran with us. I said sure! You know, back then I used to go out a little too fast, actually a lot too fast, and I think the first mile was about six-thirty mostly uphill. Larry hung in there, but gave me some really nasty looks (good thing he was too winded to talk!). We came in at about 37 minutes, much faster than Larry thought he could run. He was thrilled....did everything but handsprings! Larry was always so enthusiastic and nice to be around. His spirit was competitive but only to the point of self-improvement. He loved the camaraderie of the after race feeds and hanging around to dissect the race and generally chew the fat.

In the late summer of that year Larry took a trip up to Guffey to run the Guffey Gasp....a seven miler at very high altitude on tough hills. After the race he told friends that he felt tired and funny but he drove home. When he got home his wife took him directly to the hospital, where he was diagnosed as having a heart attack. When I heard about it I went right over to the hospital. We talked for quite a while. He told me his father and grandfather had both died at a younger age than he was now of heart attacks. He took up running because he wanted to try to live as long as he could. He was very happy with the club and the people he had met and felt that his life would continue as happy as it had been.

Larry was released from the hospital the next day and he went home. His wife told me the next day that he was sitting in his favorite chair when his heart failed and he left us. Shortly after that the Board of Directors voted to change the name of the handicap to the Nielson Challenge. This race represents the heart and spirit of our did Larry.

For those of you who want to know more about the race: It is two miles run on the dirt paths in North Monument Valley Park. It is designed for all levels of runners with the beginners having a better chance to win than the more experienced runners. Every time you run, your time goes into a computer and a handicap time is computed for your next race. There are fudge factors for missed races and the first few races but after several runs your handicap is pretty much your average running time for most of your runs. The winner each month is the person who beats their handicap time by the most time.....or who comes the closest to that time if no one beats it.....that happens a lot in winter. The race is run at 8AM on the first Saturday morning of each month. It starts near the playground down the hill from the Fontanero entrance to the park. It is FREE both to club members and non-members.

Course Information

Flat course on hard packed dirt trails. The first mile is an out-and-back, first heading south and then north after 1/2 mile. The second mile is a loop, heading north on the first half of the loop and south on the 2nd half.


W. Fontanero Street & Culebra Place, Colorado Springs, CO

From I-25, take the Uintah Exit (Exit 143)

  • At end of exit ramp, turn east (away from the mountains).
  • Turn left at Cascade Ave.
  • Turn left at Fontanero St
  • Turn left at Culebra Place.
  • Registration area is near the bathrooms

Hey Mom, I'm stretching, but I can't get down.