Peter A Tonsits

Club Member Since 4/6/2003

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Peter A Tonsits

"I ain't as good as I once was, my how the years have flown....but I'm as good once as I ever was." -Toby Keith

City: Colorado Springs State: CO

Favorite Shoe: Inov8 Size: 8.5

Age: 59.2 years old

Marital Status: Very happily married, for a long, long time!

Family members:
My beautiful wife Laura & three great kiddos, Peter, Reese, and Justin.

One dog right now...a new lightning quick pup that doesn't have a permanent name yet!

One of our beloved dogs, Shelby, who passed away in 2006, and was a Catahoula Leopard dog, was quite the runner in her prime! She once took "1st Place Dog" in a race sponsored by Penrose Hospital in which you could run with your dog. She just kept pushing me (or pulling me) until there were no more dogs left to pass!

What I do for work:
Account Executive with LAMAR Outdoor.

Places I’ve called home and why I like where I am now:
Growing up years: Parsippany, NJ (yup, I'm a Jersey boy, bet you would have never guessed that!), Mahopac NY, Simsbury CT.

College years: San Diego, CA.

Post-College to present: Colorado Springs, CO (well Denver for a short time)
I like Colorado Springs because it's the best of both worlds....great climate with lots of sunshine but we still get the four seasons like I did when I lived on the east coast. I love the proximity to the foothills & Pikes Peak....tons of great trail running!

When I started running and what got me started:
In 1976, back in Jr. High, they made an announcement about a meeting for anyone who wanted to go out for the High School X-Country team in the fall so I started running in the summer of 1976 to get ready for my freshman year on the High School X-Country team + I always enjoyed watching track on TV, especially the Olympics.....and my dad always telling us kids to watch "the man with the hat," Dave Wottle who always wore a golf cap and always lurked in the back of the pack before making his patented move to the front!

Copy and paste the following link to watch Wottle's bid for the 800m Gold Medal in the 1972 Olympics in Munich. It'll give you goose bumps!!!

What does running mean to me:
I enjoy the whole life style....the satisfaction I feel after a great race or workout, the camaraderie, as well as the solitude....the way my clothes fit when I'm in shape, the cool air of an early morning run in the summer, the perfect quiet of a moonlit run on a cold winter's night on a layer of fresh snow....and is there anything better than an 32oz. ice cold soda from Loaf 'N Jug after a long run?!

Running accomplishments: View my Pikes Peak Ascent/Marathon results
Out of all the days in all the years I've run, I've had 2 races where everything just came together in a "perfect storm" so to speak, and I ran way faster than I ever thought possible!

The first was at the 1988 Twin Cities Marathon (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN) when I turned in a 2:52:08. It's the only road Marathon where I've ever broken the 3-hour barrier. In fact, in all the other road marathons I've done (including multiple return trips to the Twin Cities Marathon seeking a return to the magic of that day) I've never managed to go sub 3:10:00.

The second time everything clicked was the 1994 Pikes Peak Marathon when I clocked a 3:05:47 to the summit and a 4:48:08 round trip. Through 2015 I've run the Pikes Peak Marathon 25 times and only came close to breaking 5-hours one other time. I've also never again approached that 3:05:47 time to the summit.

Other than that, I was able to break the elusive 40:00 mark for the 10k twice in the summer of 1994, although neither came easy.
{6/25/94: "Sailin' Shoes 10K" 39:55}
{7/17/94: "Colorado Springs Classic 10K" (2nd leg of Triple Crown) 39:26}

Current streaks:

Pikes Peak Ascent and/or Marathon: 1989-2019

Pikes Peak Marathon: 1992-2019 {Unofficially, based on Matt's streakers' list,(, I believe I have the 2nd longest active Marathon streak.}
Bill L. Coffelt, 36 consecutive years, 1984-2019
Peter A. Tonsits, 28 consecutive years, 1992-2019, and I was lucky enough to start the streak the year before Brenton H. Buxton, and Ryan P. Soderberg started continuously showing up in the Marathon (and the Ascent as well!)

Barr Trail Mountain Race: Every year since its inception, 2000-2019. The BTMR was not held in 2012 due to the Waldo Canyon Wildfire. :o( There are only 4 of us left that have run the race all 19 years, and we are a stubborn bunch. I don't think any of us are going anywhere for a while!

What I like about trail/mountain running:
The constantly changing terrain and surroundings, the views, and the ability to get away from civilization for a little bit.

Favorite running trail and why:
Waldo Canyon (pre-fire) offered a little bit of everything, yet it was still short enough for a quick quality workout. Unfortunately Waldo Canyon was a casualty of the drought and 2012 Waldo Canyon Wildfire. Hopefully, one day we'll be able to run the whole thing again!

Jones Park: I call it the best kept secret in Colorado Springs for a long trail run, but I don't recommend running it alone as it's very secluded. Depending on the day and time, you can literally run for 3+ hours and not see a soul. If a large animal dragged you off into the woods they wouldn't find your bones for years!

Favorite trail/mountain race and why:
Pikes Peak Marathon....there's a certain mystique on that mountain, not so much on race day, but during the training. I can't put my finger on it, but it keeps drawing me back year after year.

Best running experience:
All right, I have five.

1) Finishing the Pikes Peak Ascent for the first time in 1989. It was a completely overwhelming emotional experience for me!

2) In High School, when I was a freshman, the girl's and boy's
X-Country teams (it used to be girls and boys, now I notice it's men's and women's....I thought that wasn't until college?) were returning on the same bus, from either an away race or our pre-season running camp. (I can't remember which because it was a long time ago.) For some reason, and as I just mentioned the circumstances are a little foggy at this point, there was less room on the way back than there had been on the way out.....and somehow Paula, a sophomore on the girls team, unbelievably nice, and impossibly good looking (who I also had a crush on...I think we all did) ended up sitting on my lap for the trip back! That was probably the highlight of my High School running career!

3) Another one of my favorite running experiences was also in High School. In my senior year we had two extremely fast and talented runners on our team, Kip, and Chris. I was nowhere in their league but one race I decided I was going to go out hard and try and stay with them for as long as I could. About 1 mile into the race Kip and Chris are running side by side and I'm about a step and a half behind them. They know somebody's there but they think it's one of the other team's runners. Chris glances over his shoulder and is shocked to see me hangin' on and says, "Holy S%#*!" If I hadn't been running so hard, I would have busted out laughing! I got passed up by one more of our guys (my buddy, Jeff Burk) but he and I finished a close 3rd & 4th on our team, and we cleaned up that day!

4) In 1999, I was trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon for my second time. I needed a 3:15:00 or better at the Hartford Marathon. I took off at a pace that I thought would be fast enough to get me to the finish line under 3:15:00, while not burning me out for the last 8 miles or so of the race.

Anyway, this Marathon, as a lot of them do now, had pacers for runners trying to run the Marathon under certain times. So probably 7 or 8 miles into the race I came up from behind on the 3:15:00 pacer and his group of runners. At first this was encouraging, but as I ran with them for a little while I noticed that I had really slowed down in order to stay with them. I started doing calculations in my head and came to the conclusion that this group was not going to get to the finish line in 3:15:00 or under, so I took off on my own. (I still regret not saying something like..."Hey we're running too slow...if you want to go sub 3:15, come with me, if you stay with this guy, you're not going to make it!"

At about the half-way point me and another guy ran pretty much side by side at a really good clip up to about mile 20. Then as I did the math in my head over the last 6 miles, I realized this was going to be close one way or the other!

As I made the final turn for the finish line, I finally knew for sure that although it was going to be extremely close I was going to make it, and that was a tremendously good feeling. I squeaked in at 3:14:35 and I have a great picture of myself crossing the line with the time clock over head, as I'm hitting the stop button on my watch.

Immediately after crossing the line I looked back to see if the 3:15:00 pacer and his group of runners were coming in right behind me, but when I turned around they were nowhere in sight. I'm glad I took off when I did!

5) Completing my first ultra, the 2010 San Juan Solstice 50 miler! Actually, not just completing it, but training hard for it, racing it hard and not leaving anything in the tank!

Worst running experience:
Completely tearing my plantar fascia on my left foot on Barr Trail about a mile from Barr Camp, 2 weeks before the 2005 Pikes Peak Marathon, and having to walk/gimp all the way back to Manitou Springs all the while wondering if I'd ever be able to run again. (Yes, I hobbled through the 2005 Pikes Peak Marathon two weeks was actually easier going up than coming down, but I ended up having to take about 6-months off after that.)

Neatest thing found on a run:
Fortitude I never knew I had!

Also, during the 1998 Collegiate Peaks Trail Run, a few miles into the race, a small group of nudists sitting in beach chairs stood up to cheer us on! (It was early in the race so I was not hallucinating and everyone else saw them too!) I guess if you run long enough you'll see just about everything sooner or later!...yes, I've seen that too!!!

Running related bathroom stop story:
While waiting for the start of the Boston Marathon, packed in like sardines in the starting corrals, still kind of shocked to see both men and women letting it flow right on the pavement! I'm just a little too modest to try that!

Running pet peeves:
The mileage markers they put up at the Pikes Peak Ascent & Marathon! C'mon, it's a trail race with tons of natural landmarks! To me, they seem kind of ridiculous!

The amount of traffic that the Incline has put onto Barr Trail and all of the erosion that a lot of those people have caused by cutting switchbacks. I kind of wish the Incline didn't even exist! I love the Incline Club, but the Incline itself, not so much!

Something non running related that no one would guess about me:
Other club members have said similar things in answering this question, so I apologize if I'm stealing your line.....I'm a Christian but hopefully you would be able to guess that!

By the way my family and I attend church at Woodmen Valley Chapel. They have a lot of service times on weekends...6p on Saturday, as well as 9a and 11a on Sundays, which makes it easy to fit my training/racing in and still make it to church. Check them out at

Other stuff:
Favorite Movies: "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," and "Bandits"...they're similar but different!

My current running goals are to keep the streaks alive and keep on keepin' on like Fred Wright and Glen Ash! Those guys are awesome!

Page last modified: 8/27/2019

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