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Ascent turns into two-man race

Rodriguez pushes Carpenter to top

By Bob Wallace and Angie Reese The Gazette

Matt Carpenter knew he’d have to battle the mountain Saturday to beat his record in the Pikes Peak Ascent.

He hadn’t counted on having to battle Martin Rodriguez for most of the 13.32-mile course as well.

“I wasn’t ready for that, I thought I’d be running by myself for a long time,” said Carpenter, 33, of Colorado Springs.

Feeling Rodriguez breathing down his neck for most of the Ascent forced Carpenter to focus more on winning than setting the record.

Carpenter’s time of 2 hours, 10 minutes, 43 seconds was good enough to beat Rodriguez, 31, but not good enough to beat the record of 2:01.06 he set in 1993.

``I had to put the course record aside and just concentrate on winning,'' Carpenter said.

From the outset, Carpenter wanted to distance himself from the pack and concentrate on breaking the 2-hour barrier. Within the first 2 minutes, he had broken away from every runner in the field except one - Rodriquez.

The two ran heel-to-toe with Rodriguez close behind until the midway point at Barr Camp. That's when Carpenter tried to make his move.

``Just after Barr Camp I knew (Rodriguez) was tiring, so I took off hard and put about 20 meters on him,'' Carpenter said, ``but he climbed right back and caught me.''

Rodriguez was hesitant to take the lead. Most runners prefer lying in wait in second place, feeling it's easier to keep the pace than set it.

``My idea was to be very close to (Carpenter) because he knows that trail better than me, '' said Rodriguez, of Mexico.

Meanwhile, Rodriquez's persistence took Carpenter out of his game plan.

``I think I could have been a lot more relaxed,'' Carpenter said. ``There was no pressure when I set the record. Today I felt lots of pressure. (Rodriguez) wouldn't take the lead, he made me do all the work.''

Rodriguez finished almost 10 minutes behind Carpenter.

RECORD OR NOT? Robert Weed of Jackson Hole, Wyo., broke the record for the fastest Ascent in the 45-49-year-old division - or at least the record book says his 2:32.20 did.

The Triple Crown of Running record book states James Oberheide held the mark of 2:33.33, but Carpenter says Jerry Martinez set the Ascent record of 2:32.05 in last year's Marathon.

``I'm sure that if he knew, he would have been able to run 15 seconds faster,'' said Carpenter, who keeps track of all racing results through his web page.

Still, Weed was pleased.

``I was trying to run steady and smart rather th an fast,'' Weed, 46, said.

He finished seventh overall. In 1991, Weed set the record for the 40-44-year-old division.

HE'S BACK: Former Rampart athlete Andy Samuelson finished 61st overall in his first Ascent in 3:12.10.

``It was peer pressure,'' Samuelson, 26, said. ``My dad and my good friend were running it, so I figured, `Why not?' But I went out way too fast.''

Copyright © 1996-1997, The Gazette
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