Kirsten Ames of Steamboat Springs had never been on Pikes Peak, so she was expecting the unexpected.
But Colorado Springs' Matt Carpenter, who knows the 13.32-mile course as well as he knows his way home, was shocked to see Mexico's Martin Rodriguez push him to the limit.
Carpenter fell short of breaking the 2-hour barrier, but won his sixth Ascent with a time of 2:10.43.
"It's such a long race, sometimes you just have to settle with the win," said the 33-year-old Carpenter. "Even though I wanted the record, I still have to be really happy with this win.''
Carpenter, who holds the 4-year-old course record of 2:01.06, said the field was not that fast.
"I talked to people and realized that it was just a slow day."
Jeremy Wright of Wyoming finished third in 2:23.03, while Boulder's Andy Ames the winner of the Garden of the Gods 10-miler in June finished fourth in 2:25.25.
Rodriguez, who won last year's Ascent, has been training for next week's International Marathon in Mexico City.
While Rodriguez didn't show signs of fatigue in pacing off Carpenter through the first 10 miles, he couldn't keep up when Carpenter made his move.
He finished his fourth Ascent in 2:20.38.
"I think we ran too hard at the beginning," Rodriguez said through an interpreter. "And then it was too hard for me to run at the end."
Overall, Carpenter thought the race went well.
"Even though I didn't get the record, I can't complain," Carpenter said. "The conditions were great and everything was great. But the Peak is the Peak, and you just don't know what to expect."
Carpenter has run the course religiously, so imagine how Kansas-born Kirsten Ames felt as she was running up Pikes Peak for the first time.
"I didn't know what to expect at all, so in that respect it was good," said Ames, 35. "All I was told to do was to run some hills, and I practiced, but the highest mountain I got on was probably only 10,500 feet. I didn't have the time, but I wasn't too worried.
"I love hills, that's my strength. This was perfect."
Ames, who was the triathlon National Champion in 1986 and 1987, broke away from the women's field at the 2-mile mark.
She ran most of the race by herself before catching up to Steamboat Springs resident/friend Paul Sachs at the 10-mile mark. She overcame minor lower-back pain to finish the race in 2:46.43, good for 13th overall.
Wendy Harris of Golden was the second woman finisher in 3:03.06 and Manitou Springs resident Cindy O'Neill finished third at 3:04.12.
"I was a little disappointed that I didn't break my age-group record because I knew I was close," said Ames, who nearly broke Marie Boyd's 1995 record in the 35-39 age group of 2:44.36. "But with a half-mile to go, they said I was 2 minutes off the record. I knew it was out of reach then, so I ran the rest of the race just for fun."