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August 19, 2002

Carpenter skips Marathon

Saturday's champion says he's been there, done that

By Meri-Jo Borzilleri, Kurt Eilmes and Tim Bergsten The Gazette

Matt Carpenter, race gadfly and 10-time Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon champion, did not run the marathon after winning Saturday's Ascent. Why?

"Cause I did it last year," Carpenter said.

Carpenter, 38, last year became the only runner to win both races on successive days. He also holds the records for the Ascent (2:01:06) and Marathon (3:16:39), set in 1993 when the first leg of the Marathon counted as the Ascent record.

Sunday, Carpenter caught a ride to the summit, where he took photos of fellow Incline Club members at the turnaround.

BANDIT MAN: Bob Alessio of Boston, whose patriotic zeal is taking him on a run across America, ran as a bandit - unofficial competitor - Sunday. Alessio started the race without a number and toward the back of the pack. When the cannon sounded, he ran through the start line carrying a small flag.

A BLOODY MESS: Clouds blocked out the sun most of the day, but that didn't keep temperatures from reaching into the 90s. The medical tent was hopping all day - inserting IVs, giving oxygen and caring for wounds.

The difference between the Ascent and Marathon? The Marathon's far bloodier.

Some runners lurched across the finish with bleeding lips, chins, legs and elbows after falls on the course's downhill portion.

"We always said it's like a bloodbath here," said Todd Rowader, in his eighth year as the race's medical director. "People fall down and keep running and running."

Staffers, affiliated with Memorial Hospital, treated 125 runners, including two thought to have ankle fractures.

NOT BAD FOR A BEGINNER: Colorado Springs resident Paul Koch ran the Marathon for the first time Sunday. Koch finished second overall with a time of 4 hours, 13 minutes and 36 seconds - just three minutes behind Jesse Rickert's winning pace.

But Koch, 34, thought he could have done better.

"It just wasn't there today," he said. "I was hoping to run it faster than four hours. I had better times in some of my training runs."

Koch, who has competed in the Ascent several times and finished fourth last year, wasn't sure if he would run the Marathon again.

IT MUST BE THE NUMBERS: The race numbers of the first two finishers of the Marathon, Rickert and Koch, were strangely similar. Rickert was 837, while Koch had 387.

RUNNING ON BLIND FAITH: The Marathon had, what officials believe, is the first vision-impaired competitor Sunday. Cheryl Wells of Los Angeles didn't complete the 26-mile course because she feared her pace wasn't fast enough to meet the cut-off time. She found out after she turned back at No Name Creek that she was ahead of the cut-off time.

"I thought it was better to quit sooner rather than later up the mountain," she said. "But I hope to be back next year and complete it."

Wells' guide, Bill Lockton, went on to finish the race.

RUNNING ON BARE FEET: Ricardo Gonzales of Jalisco, Mexico, crossed the finish line a little differently than the rest of the competitors - without shoes or socks.

Gonzales, who traveled to Colorado just for the Marathon, said he took his shoes off once he hit the pavement because they were soaked with sweat and rubbing uncomfortably against his feet.

"It was better to run without them," said Gonzales, 44, who finished in 32nd place.

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

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