King of the mountain returns to Marathon
Opinion by MILO F. BRYANT
Game recognizes game.
Thats how it is in athletics. Its a respect thing.
Youve got skills, folks can see it. If the competition has talent, you take note. Then you raise your game. You take the challenge to a level that makes the competition blink.
When it comes to running through mountainous terrain at insane speeds, Carpenter is our wunderkind. When success stems from mental fortitude mixed with athleticism, Carpenter isnt too far down on the roll call list. Jordan? Here. Armstrong? Present. Woods? Here. Carpenter? Here. Normal humans dont do to mountains what Carpenter does. Even good-to-exceptional athletes struggle to mimic Carpenters best. Derek Griffiths, publisher of Colorado Runner, told The Gazette that Carpenter had just raised the bar of ultra racing to a whole new level.
That statement came after Carpenter set a record in the Leadville 100 race, a rather quixotic 100-mile run, walk and crawl. Carpenters 15 hours, 42 minutes, 59 seconds destroyed the old record by 1 hour, 33 minutes.
The Pikes Peak Marathon isnt an ultra race. But talk with anybody who has attempted to complete one, and youll learn that its ultra difficult. This year Sundays race is part of the World Mountain Racing Association Grand Prix. That means some of the worlds best mountain racers will be racing on Americas Mountain.
The competition, skills, talent, respect all of it has Carpenter back in the event after a two-year hiatus.
Ulrich Steidl, a German who lives in Washington, may be Carpenters toughest opponent outside of the challenges Pikes Peak presents. Slovenian runner Anton Vencelj, Australias Trevor Jacobs and Boulders Galen Burrell should all be tough, too.
I think its going to be one of the more competitive races in recent memory on the mens and the womens side, Nancy Hobbs said. Hobbs is the founder of the All American Trail Running Association. ...Uli is a very formidable competitor. Hes got course records on quite a few mountain races, many of the longer distances and hes also quite an accomplished road racer. So hes very fast in the marathon distance. If he runs well at altitude he could be the first to the finish line.
Such a finish would surprise some locals. Actually, an upset would be the correct phrase.
The Pikes Peak races define Carpenter. He has won 11 times (five Ascents, six Marathons) on the mountain. He holds the course record for both events. In 2001, he won both races.
Pikes Peak is in Carpenters backyard, his turf, his house so to speak.
Its his mountain, I guess you could say, race director Ron Ilgen said.
And Carpenter is back to protect it.
The bottom line is its a race, Carpenter said. Surely we can talk about the challenge of the mountain itself. But a person can gain that (challenge) on any weekend of the year. I like the challenge of having runners come in. Thats whats got me excited about it again.
What makes this running of the Marathon special is that Carpenter cant just show up. And he knew that. If Carpenter fails to win, he said it wouldnt be because of a lack of training.
Sometimes Carpenters training borders on what we non-elite call maniacal.
Hes going to have to run really well and have a good strategy like he always does, Hobbs said. I dont think hes entering the race to finish second, third, fourth or 10th.
...Matt is one that I dont believe that he has ever gone into a race thinking hes not going to finish first.
Copyright 2006, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information. All rights reserved. Used with permission.