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August 19, 2001

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Meri-Jo Borzilleri may be reached at 636-0259 or merijo @ gazette . com
Women's champ says being mom is good training

By Meri-Jo Borzilleri/The Gazette

Anita Ortiz had never raced up 14,110-foot Pikes Peak before Saturday's Pikes Peak Ascent, but she was hardly daunted by the prospect.

Surprised that she won, yes. Intimidated, no.

Ortiz, 37, is one of those women who doesn't need to go on some silly reality-based TV show or climb Everest or run 100 miles in the desert to prove how tough she is.

Ortiz, from Eagle, is a stay-at-home mom. She has kids. Four of them. That's enough to prove her mettle, she figures.

"Learning to deal with all the mess makes you able to deal with things," she said, sitting on the peak after topping a field of 548 women to win her first Ascent in 2 hours, 47 minutes, 9 seconds.

Pueblo's Maddy Tormeon, 39, was second in 2:48:29 in her first Ascent, while Beverly Zimmerman placed third in 2:53:10.

Ortiz has won the prestigious Vail Racing Series the past two years and is halfway to a third title. She figures she has run just about every day of her life. Races up nearby Vail Mountain, 13 miles and more than 10,500 feet elevation, helped her prepare for her first Pikes Peak Ascent.

"Because I'd run all the Vail races, this seemed like the next logical thing," Ortiz said. "They're hard. This was similar to all those until the last 3 miles. Then it was killer."

Ortiz has worked her kids into her running life. Eight-year-old Amelia, 6-year-old Amanda and 4-year-old twins Acacia and David have all taken spins in the baby jogger. She has breast-fed the twins within sight of a finish line.

Ortiz never figured kids would be part of her training in another way.

"Having children makes you tough mentally and that's what the last 3 miles of this race was all about," Ortiz said.

Ortiz took the lead well before that, but didn't know it until spectators started cluing her in along the way. At Mile 5, she first heard the news. It followed her up the 13-mile mountain trail until she finally started believing it.

Not bad for someone who was shooting for a top-10 finish Saturday.

"I am totally stunned," she said at the top with husband, Mike, sports director for the Vail Recreation Department. "But it feels really good."

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