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August 19, 2002

Masochistic few enjoy doubling their, uh, pleasure

By Kurt Eilmes Special to The Gazette

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Kurt Eilmes may be reached at 636-0250.

They are revered in the world of high-altitude runners. Their title bestows them respect, applause and admiration.

They are the doublers.

Doublers are those who finish both the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon in the same weekend. That’s over 40 miles of running and climbing 7,815 feet in elevation — twice.

Hal Winton became the first doubler in 1981, the same year the Ascent and Marathon were held on seprate days.

High-altitude running start Matt Carpenter took doubling to a new height in 2001, when he not only ran the Ascent and the Marathon, but won both.

But Carpenter, who won Saturday’s Ascent, did not compete in the Marathon on Sunday. In his absence, other doublers got a chance to shine.

Neil Blake, a 37-year-old resident of Albuquerque, N.M., turned in the fastest times in both the Ascent and the Marathon of any doubler. He finished Saturday’s trip up in three hours, one minutes, 54 seconds, then returned less than 21 hours later to run up and down. Blake completed the round-trip in 5:07:07.

“This whole race is about fitness,” he said. “(Carpenter) is more fit than anyone on the planet. It’s a tough race and an unforgiving course.

Why would more than 80 participants attempt the double?

“It’s a good question — because they’re there,” Blake said.

Fellow doubler Chris Chavez agreed.

“It’s an extraordinary feat to pull off but I don’t know what the real reason is,” he said. “It’s being able to do something while you are young and in shape. I heard of all these people doing it and I wanted to try it.

The 43-year-old Chavez, husband of women’s Marathon champ Erica Larson, completed the double once before, in 1998.

“The last time I did it, I said I’d never do it again,” he said. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Besides the obvious difference between the Ascent and the Marathon, Blake said there are so many more factors to take in account while running the Marathon.

“The Marathon requires people to plan ahead in terms of hydration, calories and heat,” he said. “In the Ascent, you can put the hammer down because it’s over in three hours.

Unless you are a doubler.

Copyright 2002, The Gazette, a Freedom Communications, Inc. Company. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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