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August 19, 2001

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Mark Fitzhenry may be reached at 636-0178 or markf @ gazette . com
'I thought it'd be harder'

Third-place finisher makes high-altitude adjustment

By Mark Fitzhenry/The Gazette

Andrew Peace doesn't sound like much of a candidate to run in the Pikes Peak Ascent, much less finish third.

Peace is from Yorkshire, England -- approximate altitude 1,030 feet. The highest altitude at which Peace had run before Saturday was about 7,000 feet.

Saturday, the 32-year-old Peace climbed 7,815 feet in altitude. And when he reached the finish line near the summit of Pikes Peak, he had run the 13.32-mile uphill course in 2 hours, 22 minutes.

"I thought it'd be harder, actually," Peace said.

"It was hard, but I thought I'd be dizzy or sick."

Instead, the worst thing to happen to Peace was an onset of stomach cramps.

"I had to go to the toilet," Peace said. "Probably cost me 30 seconds."

Peace's time, unofficially, was 50 seconds slower than the second-place finisher, Scott Elliott. Peace's third-place finish, coupled with his non-altitude background from England, made him a mini-hero at the summit.

"I feel like genuflecting," one woman told him. Others offered their congratulations.

"I'm in awe," Peace said. "I'm not used to this."

Peace arrived in Colorado last Sunday.

He spent two days in Denver and then trained in Boulder. He admitted one week of training in altitude for the Ascent was not enough, saying he should've spent two weeks -- five days to acclimate himself and a week to train.

He has run in mountains for about 10 years, although none the height of Pikes Peak (14,110 feet). In England, he prepared for the Ascent by running uphill in the Lake District, located in the north, for about an hour at a time.

The Pikes Peak course wasn't as difficult as he imagined.

"It's not really steep," Peace said. "It's all runnable. The hills in the UK are really steep -- you're walking, and it feels like you're on your hands and knees.

"I was surprised. There actually were downhill and flat portions. I thought I'd be zigzagging uphill for 2 hours. It was still very difficult. The last full mile I was really struggling."

But he still finished third -- not bad for his highest altitude race of his life.

"I'm happy," he said. "It went OK."

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