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Sunday, August 17, 2003
PIKES PEAK ASCENT: Gutierrez breezes to top
20-year-old record falls his first time up the mountain
By ODEEN DOMINGO
He kept running as the first person to complete the trail, breaking the yellow tape at the finish line, 14,110 feet in elevation. When race director Ron Ilgen tried to hand him his medal, Gutierrez kept running past him, too. He ran all the way to the top of Pikes Peak and he didnt stop; it looked like he couldnt stop.
Spectators stared in awe, they seemed too amazed to keep cheering. They were seeing a 37-year-old athlete who just finished the 48 th running of the 13.32-mile Pikes Peak Ascent in a 35-39 age-group record of 2 hours, 13 minutes, 29 seconds. He ran up and down the cog railway tracks and around the summit like he wished the races trail never ended.
The hardest part was not knowing the course, where I was at, Gutierrez said, his head showing no sign of sweat and his voice showing no sign of fatigue. I feel fine now. I kept under control."
Gutierrezs time broke a 20-yearold record of 2:15:44 by 37-year-old Ron McCurley. If that wasnt impressive enough, the second person to finish, Mark Cocuzzella of Denver, 36, came in 17 minutes and two seconds after Gutierrez.
I was surprised, no one was running with me, said Gutierrez, who is from Alamosa. I didnt expect anybody to catch up. It was just me and the mountain.
It was the first time I ran above 12,000 feet. In some parts I was so unsure, I never have been on this trail before. Its tough, its such a long way up. In the back of my mind, I was thinking at any time, I could just blow up.
It seemed that the only thing that blew up was the space between Gutierrez and everybody else.
Simon just ripped everybody, said third-place finisher Bernie Boettcher, who came in at 2:32:58. Theres no doubt about it. Nobody came in that fast in a while. He led from the starting line. No one could catch him.
Boettcher, 40, of Silt said he was surprised he came in third. He was expecting a top-seven finish.
For the third straight year, Anita Ortiz, 39, of Eagle was the top female runner. Ortiz came in 20th overall in 2:52:12.
Its not as well as past years, but its good enough, said Ortiz, smiling with every word. Ill take it.
Ortiz has endured injuries the past few years and her training hasnt been up to par. But with the win, shes happy shes still at the top of her game.
Injuries? You name it. Broken foot, broken ribs, Ortiz said.
I feel tired because its the lack of training. The challenge is still awesome. No matter how you feel, the challenge is just awesome.
Gretchen Ellis, 32, of Los Alamos, Calif., was the second female to finish at 2:53:05, good for 23 rd overall. Ortiz said she didnt see Ellis until the last mile and thought Ellis might pass her.
I was like, Ooohhh, shes close, Ortiz said. By that time, at that point when theyre that close, if theyre going to do it, theyre going to do it.
Matt Carpenter, 39, of Manitou Springs did not run the Ascent. He said he will only run todays Marathon in an effort to break Gutierrezs Ascent agegroup record when he reaches the summit and then the Marathons age-group record when he crosses the finish line in Manitou Springs.
Whether or not Carpenter breaks the record, Gutierrez plans to push his time faster next year.
I could chip that time down, Gutierrez said. I could go faster now that I know a bit about the race.
TOP THREE FINISHERS
Copyright 2003, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information. All rights reserved. Used with permission.