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August 21, 2000

Race notes

By Luke DeCock, Tim Mimick and Ann Tatko/The Gazette

MARATHON MAN: Pedro Graciagarmendia wasn't in pain a minute after finishing the Pikes Peak Marathon on Sunday. As he sat in the runners' relief tent, race volunteers asked if they could get him anything. Water? Gatorade? Grapes?

"My wife," he said.

Then he got up, walked out of the tent and greeted his wife, Claudia, and their 2-year-old son, Alejandro.

The family had made the trip from their Caracas, Venezuela, home so he could run in the marathon. He placed 18th overall in 4hours, 46 minutes, 11 seconds.

"It was too hot," he said. "The downhill was too hot."

Graciagarmendia thought he would finish faster. He runs a lot. He thought he could make his first trip to Colorado a rousing run.

"But we don't have an elevation like this," Claudia Graciagarmendia said. "The mountains and not this high."

For 10 years, Graciagarmendia wanted to run this race. He read about it in a running magazine. He loved the view, the rocks, the difficulty. His wife, who doesn't run, was excited about the scenic vacation.

"I think it is the best race for the mountains," he said.

"This year," Claudia Graciagarmendia said, "he said, 'We run.' But this is much colder than home. Yesterday, we were at the top of the mountain, and we didn't know it would be so cold. I had to buy a blanket up there to wrap up Alejandro and me. His little face was all that was peeking out of the blanket."

BACK FOR MORE: Wearing his official 1977 Pikes Peak Marathon logo-emblazoned white T-shirt, Tim Hicks shook hands with runners who finished the 2000 race near him. Or knew him. Or just wanted to talk to a vibrant man who will turn 57 at the end of August.

Hicks, who now lives in Angels Camp, Calif., came back last year for his third Pikes Peak Marathon, his first since the late 1970s.

"Last year was my retirement celebration here at the Pikes Peak Marathon," Hicks said.

This one wasn't bad, either. His wife, mother and brother were at the finish line. The former high school administrator finished in 5:33:09, first in his 55-59 age group.

HAPPY GRADUATION: Greg Voelkel just graduated from the Air Force Academy and gave himself a gift. The Pikes Peak Marathon.

"I figured it was this year or forget it," he said.

He will be assigned soon to the Pensacola (Fla.) Air Station for pilot training. That sea-level running won't do him much good when he's getting ready for a mountain race.

Neither did a 60-day stint back home in Lafayette, La. Sure, he ran, but he knew it wasn't as good as his training at the academy. In one month since his return to Colorado, he made sure he recovered that thin-oxygen edge.

Voelkel finished in 4:22:31, fifth among all entrants.

"It was great," he said. "It was awesome running downhill, but I think I got some blisters. I heard about that, but I was worried about my knees."

Copyright 1999-2000, The Gazette, a Freedom Communications, Inc. Company. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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