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Athlete Profile: Mountain Runner Peter Maksimow

Thirty-two year old Peter Maksimow hails from California, but his heart is in the mountains of Colorado (and perhaps, Europe). Maksimow has been hitting the national mountain running trail circuit with impressive finishes at Mt Washington and Mt Cransmore.

He won Sunday’s competitive Summer Roundup 12k in Colorado Springs.

He light-heartedly describes himself as: Running advisor extraordinaire at the Colorado Running Company, coach, professional race car driver (actually a valet at the Broadmoor), tree hugger, beer connoisseur and much more…”

Read on to find out what makes Peter a mountain man.

Thanks for taking the time to interview with us, Peter. Let’s start out with your running history – high school, college, post college?
All of the above. I started running in elementary and middle school and found I was pretty good at it, considering I was a scrawny little kid. I played many other sports but lacked the power and size it took to kick or hit a ball. My mother forbid me from the contact sports, like football, which every kid my age wanted to play. It only took me one year of baseball my freshman year of high school to realize that I was an individual sport athlete. I did pretty well wrestling in the lightest weight class but cross country and track were my true calling. I ran at Whittier High School, then at Whittier College (an NCAA Div. III school and Alma mater of Richard Nixon) then continued after college where I got into mountain running more heavily when I
moved to Colorado.

Major running accomplishments?
2003 – Pikes Peak Ascent, 5th OA, 2:33:47
2004 – Barr Trail Mountain Race, 3rd OA, 1:36:31
2004 – SunTrust Richmond Marathon, VA, 9th OA, 2:32:22
2005 – Mt. Washington, 7th OA, 1:05:48, USATF Mountain Running Team
National Champions (2005 & 2010–Central Mass Striders)
2005 – Member of the US Mountain Running Team (alternate)
2010 – Vail Hill Climb, 2nd OA, 51:25
2010 – Pikes Peak Ascent, 8th OA, 2:26:39 (World Mountain Running Long
Course Challenge)
2010 & 2003 – Mt. Baldy Run-to-the-Top, 8 miles, 1st OA
2010 – Colorado Runner Race Series Champion
2010 & 2011 Pikes Peak Road Runners Winter Series Champion
2011 – 50k CO State Champion, Greenland Trail 50k, 1st OA, 3:25:12
2011 – Garden of the Gods 10 Mile, 3rd OA, 57:04

I’ve heard that you are gunning for the US Mountain Running Team. Why? How are you going about it? How’s your quest going so far?
That is always a goal. Making the team is the pinnacle of the sport. If you are one of the lucky few (actually, it comes down to ability and fitness), you get to compete against other countries and teams that focus on this type of running and the atmosphere at the World Championships is similar to that of the Olympics Games: festive and cultural. Mountain running is becoming more and more competitive each year as it has gained the interest of the the fast road, track and cross country runners. So, making the team is becoming equally as competitive each year. This will be the second year that I will attempt to make the team since I was an alternate on the 2005 team. Last year was my first year back from the long hiatus from running, so I don’t think I was ready. This year is a different story, I am running really well and think I have shown that in races leading up to the mountain season. We’ll see soon.

[Maksimow recently completed, and finished well at Mt Washington and Mt Cranmore but missed being selected for this year's team]

One of your major life struggles has been with an ongoing condition that prevented you from running for quite a while. What happened? How did you overcome it?
I battled Chronic Fatigue Syndrom starting in the fall of 2005, when my running was going great–I had run a 2:32 marathon and went to New Zealand as part of the US Mountain Running Team. It began with mono and lots of stress in my life then turned into a chronic condition when I pushed my body through training and races for eight more months. I finally took time off but the fatigue did not subside for over three years. My body could not recover from bouts of exercise or lack of proper sleep and day to day activities became exhausting. Modern medical doctors were unhelpful and some even went as far as to say that it was all in my head. As the years went on, I really didn’t think I would ever race competitively again. The turning point came in
2009 when I found some very helpful supplements and continued my focus on a healthy diet and proper sleep. I slowly began to run again without being wiped out and had to rebuild for the next year. It has been a long and challenging road back but I feel that I have been able to control the illness recently and I am in the best shape of my life.

Who are your sponsors and what would you like to say about them?
My shoe sponsor, INOV-8  (www.team.inov-8.us), makes the best minimalistic mountain racing shoes I have ever worn. They also recently introduced a line of minimal road shoes. Don’t believe me, try them for yourself.

My calorie sponsor, Black Fox Brewing Company, was created by John and Nicole Schneider and specialize in “Belgian Inspired Ales” (www.blackfoxbrewing.com). Little do people know that beer is one of the best recovery (and carbo loading) beverages out
there, no artificial colors or high fructose corn syrup like those energy drinks. It contains water, healthy, unrefined barley and wheat, hops, which are a natural antioxidant, and yeast, which makes it a living product. But make sure it’s craft beer (preferably local) because you won’t get any of that in a Bud or Coors, just fizzy yellow water. My all-things-running sponsor and employer, The Colorado Running Company (www.corunco.com), keeps me fitted for shose and entered in races. We just received new summer shoes and apparel so come on by and try some on!

Where is your favorite place to run?
I would have to say the Alps in the Switzerland/Italy/France region. Although, I do live in Manitou Springs for a reason.

Why do you run?
I love it! It is something that balances me, keeps me from going crazy. It is a day to day challenge that usually takes a lot of
effort, but sometimes you get that rare day that feels effortless and those are the days that make it all worth it. I also love competing. The beauty of running is that on any given day, the results can go your way, on others they may not be in your favor. Plus, it allows me to keep my lady-like figure while eating lots of good food and craft beer!

What is your most memorable run/race?
Oh, I’ve had so many. It would be difficult to choose one. The Mt. Washington Road Race in 2005 stands out. As part of the Central Mass Striders (CMS) I placed 7th overall and was 5th man on the team. We smashed the old team record by a considerable amount and still hold it to this day.

The Pikes Peak Ascent has also been a memorable race. In 2003, my first attempt, I was in second place behind Simon Gutierrez from mile two until the final mile of the race when I could barely keep my eyes open and my legs functioning properly. I was passed by three people within that last mile and taken to the medical tent at the finish, where they inserted a oxygen tube in my nose. The Ascent in 2010, my second attempt, went much more smoothly. It served as the World Long Distance Challenge and I placed 8th overall (5th American) in the international field. Getting to see old friend that you rarely see and meeting new ones is always a highlight. The awards and post-race party at these races are always a great time, too.

Do you have any running mantras?
I believe you get out running what you put into it and it is obvious who is putting in the work.

What is the furthest distance you have run?
I ran 32 miles on my 32nd birthday in December, then a friend had the same idea and got a group together to run 36 miles up to Cripple Creek. It stands at that.

Do you enjoy trail running or road running and why?
Trail running, by far! Road running is so hard on the body and can become very monotonous, not to mention that it is really fast. I don’t have the natural inclination for speed so I am not as competitive of a road runner. Although, I do work on my speed in forms of tempo runs and speed workouts on the road. I try to work on my weaknesses along with my strengths. Now, trail running is much more enjoyable: always a change of scenery, soft surfaces, and what can get your cardiovascular system working harder than running up Barr Trail! And there is always that chance that you will run into a Mountain Lion (scary for some people and a thrill for others). My lack of speed is made up for in climbing and descending ability.

What do you do to prevent injury?
I like to find streams or creeks to ice the legs after a race or workout. I also try to consume protein after a hard effort. I am
adamant about eating “real” food, not that stuff that comes in packages or has an ingredients list of 40. The stuff that has
ingredients that you can’t pronounce and has little to no nutritional value, such as white rice white bread or white pasta, are mainly empty calories. You might as well just eat cardboard or styrofoam, it has just as much nutritional value. Beer helps aid in recovery!

Do you have any pre or post race rituals?
Not really. The usuals: eat, warm up, put on the racing shoes. The post race ritual includes reloading my carbs storage with Black Fox beer!

What races are on your calendar in the next year?
The Pikes Peak Ascent is on the list then the Trans Rockies Run with Inov-8 teammate Alex Nichols. This will be a new realm for me; 120 miles over six days is a whloe different type of racing than running compared to what I am used to. The summer is pretty loaded with races as it is the mountain running season. .

What are some of your goals and dreams as far as running?
I am so happy to be healthy and running again. I don’t take a day of running for granted after so much (forced) time off. I would like to continue to improve and see where it takes me.

Any goals or dreams you’d like to share that are not-running related?
I am engaged to my best friend and biggest race supporter, Nora. She keeps me well fed and is the voice of reason when I get too
compulsive. Thanks Nora, you’re the best!

Peter, anything else you’d like to share?
Did I mention I love beer!

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