Assortment of injuries troubling top runners
By MERI-JO BORZILLERI
As if racing up 14,115-foot Pikes Peak wasnt enough, some prominent names running the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon expect to be hurting for other reasons.
Five-time womens marathon champion Erica Larson, 34, of Los Alamos, N.M., decided to enter just last weekend, even with her training hamstrung by a pulled calf muscle and strep throat over the winter.
Bernie Boettcher, 42, of Silt, could finish in the top 10 in the mens marathon if hes healed enough from a serious mountain bike fall last month.
Womens Ascent champion Anita Ortiz, going for her fifth straight title, has suffered a foot muscle tear and broken foot while competing as part of the U.S. Mountain Running team.
Danelle Ballengee, the world-renowned adventure racer, won the Marathon (26.21 miles up and down Pikes Peak) four straight years, 1994-97.
Shes expecting a different kind of adventure. Ballengee is running with a sprained ankle.
Im just going to tape it up and hope for the best, Ballengee said.
Can she win?
No, Ballengee said. I hate to be pessimistic about the whole thing, but also being realistic, I dont think I can. Im going to run my best, but I also dont think I have trained the way I need to train for this race.
Galen Burrel, the 2004 mens Marathon champion from Boulder, is a favorite to repeat. Hes healthy and one of a group of elite skyrunners an international team of racers who compete in marathons reaching 13,000 feet in elevation who will run Pikes Peak. The group includes Ballengee and Corinne Favre of France, who has won the sky running world championship.
Skyrunner Agusti Roc of Barcelona crossed the marathon finish first last year, but Burrell was awarded the victory after it was discovered Roc cut corners allowable under skyrunner race rules but not Pikes Peak rules.
Pikes Peak became part of the Skyrunner World Series last year and continues this year. Race director Ron Ilgen said organizers will make the rules clearer this time. Runners must follow Barr Trail.
Some familiar faces will be missing from the starting line. Manitou Springs Matt Carpenter, the six-time marathon and five-time Ascent champion, is running the 100-mile Leadville ultramarathon this weekend, while Boulders Scott Elliott, an eight-time Ascent winner, has not entered because of a hamstring injury.
For the womens Ascent, Ortiz could get pushed from Nederlands Lisa Goldsmith or three-time champion Cindy ONeill (1998-2000) of Manitou Springs.
With Elliott out, the mens Ascent is wide open, with adventure racer Michael Kloser, 45, of Vail, among the prominent names along with Peter Vail, 31, of Boulder, who finished fourth in the Barr Trail race.
Of course, there could be surprises. Rules allow past champions entry until the race start.
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