Friends push each other to finish line
Goldsmith makes winning move once runners reach Golden Stairs
By MERI-JO BORZILLERI
Lisa Goldsmith, a 40-year-old massage therapist from Nederland, led a feel-good group of older women Saturday in winning her first Pikes Peak Ascent in 2 hours, 50 minutes and 2 seconds.
Goldsmith held off a charge by three-time Ascent champion Cindy ONeill (1998-2000) of Manitou Springs about a quarter-mile from the rocky summits finish line.
ONeill, 43, finished second in 2:50:40. Colorado Springs Connillee Walter, 32, was third in 3:03:32.
Anita Ortiz, 41, of Eagle was unsuccessful in her bid to win a fifth straight Ascent. Hampered by a lingering foot injury, she finishedfourth in 3:05:13.
Over the hill? Instead, theyre among the first to stand atop it.
Were not dead yet, said ONeill, a triathlete and runner whos actually getting faster as she gets older. She won the 2000 Ascent in 2:50:52, the last time she competed in this race.
Goldsmith and ONeill are friends, having met in 1984. They attended the same college, North Texas State. They found themselves moving to Colorado at about the same time. Still, said Goldsmith, being close can only go so far on race day.
ONeills strategy was to let Goldsmith go, then reel her in above tree line. I knew I could run the top pretty well, ONeill said. By A-Frame (tree line), I could start seeing her on the switchbacks.
ONeill closed to within five seconds. Goldsmith could feel her just behind. ONeill was, almost literally, breathing down her friends neck at the end of a 13.32-mile race up a 14,115-foot mountain.
She was uncomfortably close, Goldsmith said, minutes after finishing. At the same time, it makes racing fun.
They reached the infamous 16 Golden Stairs theyre not really steps, but grueling switchbacks with the finish line so close each runner could hear spectators screaming for them.
Thats where Goldsmith made her move.
She just powered up, ONeill said. She really deserved it because she just powered up that last bit and I know she was hurting.
A former Colorado Springs resident, Goldsmith was a top road cyclist from 1988 to 1993. She made the U.S. national team and won a national championship in 1988 before burning out and quitting the sport.
This year marked the Ascent return of both runners. Goldsmith hadnt raced here since 1997, when illness had her thinking about quitting at Barr Camp. Instead, she walked most of the way to the finish, a hard result to stomach for an elite athlete.
Goldsmith looked light years from burning out Saturday.
It says a lot about experience and this kind of running, she said when asked why three 40-and-over runners managed such success. Its tough. Running has a lot to do with perseverance and maturity, not giving up and not getting too discouraged.
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Copyright 2005, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information. All rights reserved. Used with permission.