This story was saved from the August 22, 1999

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Second that notion

Elliott returns as runner-up after 4-year interruption

By Brian Eule/The Gazette

Scott Elliott's white gloves wrapped around the dusty rock, supporting much of his weight.

Bent over, his body trembled with each deep breath he took. He stared at the ground, trying to force the spit that had been residing in the back of his throat for the last 21/2 hours, out of his dry lips.

And then, without any help, he got up and walked off.

This is normal for Elliott. It's how he reacts to the Pikes Peak Ascent. It is what he loves, what drives him and keeps him going.

Usually, however, it is accompanied by a first-place finish. Saturday, Elliott had to settle for second. Usually, Elliott doesn't disappear from the scene for four years.

They crowded around him, both before and after Saturday's race. A six-time champion of the Ascent, Elliot was greeted with pats on the back, handshakes and friendly inquiries.

Everybody wondered. Not everybody asked.

The last time he ran the race was 1994. Elliott finished third.

But that wasn't why he stopped. He wasn't getting too old and he certainly didn't think he would never win again.

He just didn't want to.

"I had a really bad breakup with a girlfriend," Elliott said. "My motivation was zero. I just poured myself into work. I was a workaholic."

The self-employed consultant for Macintosh computers stopped running and exercising altogether. He went from weighing 145 pounds to 190.

His drive was gone.

It pained his friends, especially Diane Farshman. The marathon runner and longtime friend was as hard-core as Elliott had once been. She too had that drive, not even allowing a cast on her ankle to prevent her from racing up Pikes Peak one year.

Farshman did everything she could to bring Elliot back. She took him to races, showed him tapes of old newscasts highlighting his victories, and attempted to remind him of his talent.

"I felt guilty, but I still didn't get back into it," Elliott said. "I didn't say much. I knew what she was trying to do. She knew how much it meant to me."

Shortly after, Farshman passed away.

Elliott was devastated. He found himself watching the 1998 Pikes Peak Marathon without her, thinking of what she had said. Then, somebody told him about Jeremy Wright's victory, the day before, in the Ascent. Wright had won the race in 2:26:48, a time Elliott considered far too slow for first place.

The next day, he began training again.

"I always throw myself into whatever I am doing," Elliott said. "I told all my important clients, this was really important and I have to do this for my sanity."

So, work took the back seat this time, and with a new girlfriend's support, Elliott's competitive spirit returned.

He spent the two weeks leading up to the race, training at Barr Camp. Every turn on the Pikes Peak course was memorized. Every step he took on that dirt path reminded him of victories of the past and how happy they had made him.

And when Saturday rolled around, Elliott was ready to return to the challenge he had conquered so many times.

"I guess I'm trying to make up for lost time," Elliott said.

Elliott, 35, found himself chasing 25-year old Wright for much of Saturday's race, and finished just under 5 minutes behind him.

Battling with Paul Koch for much of the way as well, Elliott picked up the speed during the last 2 miles to edge Koch for second place.

"I felt I was stronger in the last 2 miles than anybody else," Elliott said. "It was just nice to have somebody to duel it out with. It keeps me on my toes."

Elliott is hoping the competition will continue to keep him on his toes for another five or six years. After all, he's making up for lost time.

Brian Eule may be reached at 636-0232.

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