This story was saved from the August 17, 1998

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O'Neill finds coming down is the hard part

By Angie Reese-Mudd/The Gazette

Cindy O'Neill hasn't done many crazy things in her life. But after running Saturday's Pikes Peak Ascent and Sunday's Pikes Peak Marathon, O'Neill can now be considered something of a wild child.

"That was crazy, that was a crazy thing to do," said O'Neill, who won Saturday's Ascent. "I have always wanted to run the marathon and see what it was like. I liked it, but it was tough, so I don't know if I'll do them both again.

"I started to lose my energy after a while, but I was surprised that I didn't really feel that bad.

"I've felt a lot worse in other races than I did today. So I was surprised that I didn't feel as bad as I thought I would."

O'Neill - a Manitou Springs resident and software engineer at MCI - said she was also surprised that she was the first one to the top, especially with the race being a day after she broke her personal record in the Ascent by more than nine minutes with a time of 2 hours, 45 minutes, 11.5 seconds.

But after reaching t he top in 3:09 on Sunday, O'Neill said that was all she had, and her fatigue started to settle in with the help of the warm weather.

"It got so hot and I really started to get tired on the way down," she said.

Race directors were communicating with volunteers along the course who said that O'Neill stopped after she was passed by eventual winner Mari Shirazi of Louisville and runner-up Petra Rainey of Utah.

But O'Neill wants to clarify that she didn't stop racing - she just stopped to rest. And she stopped at all five aid stations on the way down.

"I just didn't have any energy left," O'Neill said. "In these last two days, I've just been snacking on fruit and little things, so I really started to feel like I had no energy.

"So I stopped at all the aid stations to eat a little more and drink some water, and that's what helped keep me going."

O'Neill says that fruit won't be keeping her going the next few days.

"I'm going to be taking a little break," she said. "Besides that, I'm going to eat a lo t. I'm craving pizza."

WATER ANYONE? As if the 26.21-mile race wasn't already hard enough, the heat forced runners to go through more water than anticipated.

About 4 hours into the event, race officials at the finish line got word that the aid station at the summit was out of water.

Luckily, Aramark services at the Summit House pitched in for the 60 gallons needed before any runners noticed.

NEXT TIME: Elaine Reiser just moved to Colorado Springs from northern California last month, and witnessed her first Pikes Peak Marathon on Sunday. And while she watched the participants shuffle through the finish line with exhaustion, Reiser didn't feel sympathy - she felt envy.

"I heard about this race and I knew I would be moving here and I did everything in my power to try and get in," Reiser said. "But it was already full and I could see why. It's just breaking my heart not being out there. I want to be one of those people collapsing at the end of the race."

PEAK IT UP: Tom Ela of Te lluride sure went the hard way about climbing Pikes Peak.

Ela, 45, ran his first marathon on Sunday just to get to the summit, his 54th trip up a mountain with elevation above 14,000 feet.

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