The hiking trail that ascends Pike's Peak is almost 13 miles in length, which is close to the distance of a standard half-marathon. Thus, Pike's Peak became the location of a yearly half-marathon and marathon race.

The first race, which offered only a half-marathon up the mountain, was held in 1936 and had 19 finishers. Following the 1936 race, no runs were held on the mountain until 1956, when the full marathon was incorporated. Both the full marathon up and down Pike's Peak, and the half marathon, have been offered every year since 1956. The largest number of finishers thus far was 2742 in 2005.

The race takes place in the middle of August, and many people from around the United States come to participate. The high elevation of Colorado Springs makes this marathon particularly challenging.