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In peak condition, Mejia ready to run

Third-straight Marathon win is goal

Ricardo Mejia may be in a class by himself for today's Pikes Peak Marathon, because he knows of nobody who can run with him.

He doesn't know, because he doesn't care. He doesn't need the competition, because he's not worried about setting any records in the Marathon.

``I don't like to talk about my competition, because I'm not really worried about that,'' Mejia, 34, said through interpreter Ruby McDaniel. ``I think it's better not to know. All I want to do is achieve my personal goal, and that is to win this race for the third year in a row.''

More than 800 runners will be in today's 42nd Pikes Peak Marathon, which begins at 7 a.m. at Memorial Park in Manitou Springs.

Frisco's Danelle Ballengee, 26, will try for her fourth straight victory in the women's division, after running the last two years way ahead of the pack.

Likewise, nobody last year was able to run with Mejia, who beat the rest of the field by 15 minutes by covering the 26.21-mile course in 3 hours, 39 minutes, 22 seconds.

With this being his sixth Pikes Peak Marathon, Mejia knows to expect the unexpected.

``All the way from the bottom to the top is hard, and the hard part is the last three miles,'' Mejia said. ``But I know I'm very mentally prepared, and physically prepared, too. But sometimes things don't go as planned up here because it all depends on the mountain.

``And I know that this is very different from the other mountains. Every mountain is different, but this is harder because a lot of the other mountains are a lot more flat.''

But the mountains are what attract Mejia.

Along with Saturday's Pikes Peak Ascent champion Matt Carpenter, Mejia is a Fila Skyrunner - a group of the world's elite which competes at marathons that reach an altitude of 12,000 feet or higher.

Mejia will compete in the Sky Marathon in Mexico in November on the Ixtlazihuat mountain - a course that begins at 4,000 feet and climbs to more than 15,000.

Carpenter is entered in the Mexico marathon, but he won't be running today.

``I wish he was in this marathon, too,'' Mejia said of Carpenter, who holds the overall record of 3:16.39, set in 1993. ``It would be nice to have someone to race against.''

When Carpenter set the Pikes Peak Ascent record of 2:01.06, it was on the first leg of the Pikes Peak Marathon in 1993. Mejia ran the second-fastest time at 3:21.32 in 1995.

``I'm sure it will be a good race anyway,'' Mejia said.

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