Four years into PikesPeakSports.us, and here’s what we know:
If there is a race – running or cycling – there will be pictures. Lots of pictures. And meticulous lists – lots of them.
Tim Bergsten, 54, a longtime journalist and Colorado native, came up with the idea for the social network more than four years ago. He had left his job as sports writer and editor at the Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper, and was looking for something new.
A life-long runner, hiker, and angler, Bergsten and a friend, Brian McCarrie, decided to create a virtual meeting place that celebrated and brought together people who shared their love of the Pikes Peak region.
McCarrie is a web developer and graphic designer. Bergsten is a writer and photographer. Both love the outdoors and everything it offers – from cyclocross to trail running.
“I imagined a magazine for runners and cyclists in the Pikes Peak region, but instead of printing, I wanted to do it online,” Bergsten says. “I create almost all the content, but anyone can contribute by writing a blog or posting a picture or promoting their event.”
Bergsten, who now oversees the site singlehandedly, believes that PikesPeakSports “needs to be the community, not the observer.” The site shows just that, with hundreds of photos, video and interviews from nearly every event in the region.
Those who follow Bergsten wonder if there are really several of him out there – in a recent week, he attended, reported and photographed the regular run for the Jack Quinn’s Running Club, a social group that begins and ends their runs at a popular local pub; the Run to the Shrine 10K, a race above the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo; Cheyenne Mountain Trail Races, and the Greenland 50K, both of which featured some of the hottest runners in the region.
“I go out to pretty much every decent-sized event, take about 500 photos and edit down to 200, and take a video of the start of the race and video interviews with the winners.”
The photos on the PikesPeakSports site with Facebook links are popular for a couple of reasons, Bergsten says. “People who compete in these events are proud. It’s fun to look for a picture of yourself. It’s proof that you were there, and you also get to check yourself out running. People work hard and they want to see what they look like.”
As the network has grown, Bergsten has made it a valuable resource for non-profit groups that sponsor events. The network also presents a popular race of its own – the Super Half Marathon and Game Day 5K on Super Bowl Sunday. “It’s our race and is a fund-raiser for the site and Pikes Peak Road Runners,” Bergsten says. “We had 829 runners the first year, and as many as 1,098 since then. It’s become very popular.”
Bergsten has extended his reach in the outdoor community by managing the website for the Incline Club, the non-profit group that cares for the Incline Trail, a wildly popular training route above Manitou Springs.
His schedule sounds exhausting, but he still has time to play in the outdoors himself.
He loves hiking and exploring new areas, and says fly fishing is especially satisfying. “I’m really in love with the artistry of it; the physical beauty of casting a dry fly and placing it gently on the water. I also appreciate the way fly fishing – when done well – requires fisher folk to become part of the natural surroundings. We wade into a stream and work with its current. You have to surrender control and take your place in that environment.”
Bergsten also spends a lot of time in running shoes. He has been a runner since the seventh grade, when he realized he was pretty good at the 440-yard dash (now the 400-meter dash).
“It’s a brutal event, a long sprint. More than a few times, I would finish and be on my way to passing out. Everything would turn purple and I’d stagger around like I’d had too many shots of tequila. It was exhausting and I was crazy enough to love it.”
Bergsten continued competitive running through his sophomore year in college, but he says “the old fire for running fast had burned out.”
He says he still loves running, and he’s inspired by those who dedicate themselves to it, “whether they’re elite athletes or moms who are knocking out three miles before they take their kids to school.”
He recently embarked on a personal challenge that he has chronicled on PikesPeakSports and on his Facebook page – to run 100 miles in the month of May. “I’m on track to hit it, but everything from my waist down kind of hurts.”
Bergsten is proud of the way his site has grown – he has more than 2,000 members, mostly in the Pikes Peak region. But during high-profile events like the Pikes Peak Ascent & Marathon (Aug. 16 and 17 this year), he says it’s not unusual to see international traffic. “It’s always cool to see that somebody from Austria or Ukraine or Greece is checking out the website.”