The fourth-place plaque from the 1987 Pikes Peak Marathon bears a special inscription on the nameplate: Matt I am Pikes Peak Carpenter.
The nickname? Courtesy of Carpenters newfound friends who had spent the night before the race listening to the 23-year-olds interminable bravado. He had never raced to the summit of the 14,110-foot mountain. Nor had he ever actually seen the Peak, much less tread on Barr Trail. But that didnt stop him from boasting that this race is nothing.
He was much quieter the next day. Especially when he was woofing his cookies after struggling up the 13.4-mile trip up the rocky trail.
Thats when I decided this race is awesome. I couldnt believe anything could beat me up that bad, says Carpenter, who set race records for the ascent and round trip in 1993 that still stand. Hes won the marathon three times and the ascent two times.
Carpenter hasnt competed on the Peak since 1994. But after two years of primarily competing in skymarathons, hell be back on Barr Trail Aug. 16 in the Pikes Peak Ascent, trying to better his time of 2 hours 1 minute, 6 seconds.
I have two fundamental goals left on the Peak, he says. Id like to break two hours, and Id like to pull off that double (win the ascent and the marathon on consecutive days he placed 2nd and a 1st in 1989 and 1st and 6th in 1990). Its a very scary race, though. You get on that start line and youre scared, cause you know its gonna hurt.
Youll never hear me say I beat the Peak. Ive run up there pretty fast, and that mountain doesnt care. Ill never conquer the Peak.