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August 20, 2001

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Meri-Jo Borzilleri may be reached at 636-0259 or merijo @ gazette . com
Double ugly

By Meri-Jo Borzilleri/The Gazette

Matt Carpenter crossed the Pikes Peak Marathon finish line Sunday morning, his jaw slack, his face pale, his eyes sunken and unfocused.

The clock read 3 hours, 53 minutes, 53 seconds, well off Carpenter's marathon record 3:16:39, set in 1993.

Didn't matter. Carpenter realized the culmination of years of dreaming and scheming. He pulled off a historic double, winning the Pikes Peak Ascent on Saturday and the Marathon on Sunday.

"I'm jazzed about that," Carpenter said. "It was ugly for sure. Those last 4 miles I felt myself getting really dehydrated."

He paid a temporary price for a permanent place in the record books: about 20 minutes hooked up to an IV, and more than an hour when he felt too ill to stand.

"I've never seen him look like this," said one race volunteer at the finish.

They've seen Carpenter race like this. The marathon, run up and down 14,110-foot Pikes Peak, represented Carpenter's fifth title on the mountain. On Saturday, he had won his fourth Ascent crown in 2:16.14.

"He's amazing," said marathon runner-up Dave Mackey of Boulder, a pro climbing guide who finished in 4:00:06. "I didn't think he'd be able to do the downhill because his legs would be trashed. That's 16,000 vertical feet in two days. I thought he would cash it in. I guess not."

Senovio Torres, 47, of Cordova, N.M., was third in 4:09:02.

Carpenter had run the double before, but found the sweep elusive. Race strategy is both necessary and tricky. You have to walk a tightrope.

Run too hard in winning the Ascent, and you don't have enough left to win the Marathon. Go too slow on the Ascent, and you risk getting passed.

Carpenter insists Sunday is the easier day, even though he had to run twice as far.

"If anything, Day 2 is a little more relaxing because you're limited by how you feel," he said. "It's just a matter of when is the tank going to hit E."

It didn't until after Carpenter crossed the finish line. Exhausted and dehydrated, he curled up on a medical cot for almost an hour.

That was a far cry from the day before, when Carpenter won the Ascent and took no time to relish it.

After resting a few minutes on a rock, Carpenter didn't even wait for one of the race vans to take him to town. Instead, he thumbed a ride down the toll road from course workers and hurried home.

"I was back at home and in the shower by 10:30," Carpenter said.

"You're not recovering while you're up there, breathing in air that's 43 percent less oxygen. When you're doing the double, you try to get every advantage you can."

While Carpenter was running up a mountain Saturday, his marathon opposition was relaxing.

"I was at home in Boulder," said Mackey, "putting siding on the house. I was on my feet for maybe 4 hours."

On the race course, Carpenter didn't play any games like he did Saturday when he shadowed runner-up Scott Elliott before blowing by him at Mile4.

This time, he was all business, passing Mackey just a half-mile up 13.1-mile Barr Trail.

"I was about 2 minutes behind him until treeline," Mackey said. "He was seven minutes ahead at the summit. I thought maybe I'd catch him on the downhill, but either the heat got to me or I didn't fuel up enough."

Carpenter, perhaps the world's best climber, made the turn and headed down. All was well until he had four miles left.

That's when two days of racing finally hit him.

At that point, Carpenter was approaching exhaustion. No wonder. In a 28-hour span, Carpenter had done 39.3 miles of racing, with 15,630 vertical feet of climbing and 7,815 feet of descending that turn legs to rubber.

Now, it was turning his mind to jelly.

"I got really dizzy and couldn't make computations and figure where I was," he said.

"All my energy was going toward not rolling an ankle."

When it was over, Carpenter could rest. The sweep was his. Mission accomplished. Now what?

Carpenter doesn't know about that. What he does know brought a smile.

"I don't think I have to do the double again," he said.

Copyright 1999-2001, The Gazette, a Freedom Communications, Inc. Company. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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