This story has been archived from the

Friday, August 15, 2003

Manitou works out kinks of races


Matt Carpenter is excited. You could hear it in his voice. Each word sounds like syllables and each sentence sounds like one word. He’s trying not to be too loud though, his daughter Kyla, 1, is sleeping. But boy, is he excited.

“Simon Gutierrez won a few races this year, and There’s Agusti Roc Amador from Spain. Those two guys are going to make it a dogfight in the Ascent. Mark Warner won the Vail hill climb.

“The women’s marathon will be the most exciting. Erica Larson, whose going for her fifth straight title, had some spectacular times this year. She’ll be challenged by Angela Munge [SIC: should be Mudge]. Either of those two could break the course record. That’s what I’m going to be watching at the finish line. It’s going to be history in the making,” Carpenter said in less than 60 seconds.

Carpenter is talking about this weekend’s 48th running of the Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent, where a total of 2,600 runners, representing four countries, 47 states and the District of Columbia, will challenge the altitude of Pikes Peak. Saturday’s Ascent is a 13.32-mile course up to Pikes Peak’s summit. Sunday’s Marathon covers the same course as the Ascent but finishes where it started, in front of Manitou Springs City Hall.

Carpenter, 39, of Manitou Springs was disappointed at the level of competition when he won the Ascent last year with a time of 2 hours, 23 minutes, 22 seconds, the second-slowest winning time since 1981.

The 10-time champion said the race committee didn’t allow some top competitive runners in the races because they missed the registration deadline. And that made for a less-impressive field.

But it was nothing new. The race’s level of competition has declined since the mid-1990s. Carpenter, who will compete in both races, boycotted the races in 1999 and 2000 to make the committee realize the decline. Carpenter said some people wrote letters about their concern.

It worked. Under Ron Ilgen, who is in his second year as the race director, the race committee set two registration deadlines this year.

The first deadline was in early June for anyone who wanted to enter and the second deadline was July 31 for “competitive runners” who didn’t make the first deadline. Ilgen said those who missed the first deadline had to submit an application detailing their competitive running accomplishments. The committee hand-picked 10 competitive male and 10 competitive female runners.

“We didn’t turn away the legit competitors,” Ilgen said. “This year we decided to take application from runners at the top of the game.”

Carpenter couldn’t be any happier.

“The committee took a great step,” he said. “It makes for exciting races. Anyone could win it this year. To me, that’s what sport is all about. The essence of sport is competition, and that’s what the race has been missing for eight years.”

Roc Amador won’t be able to race this year in a late development, but Carpenter probably won’t mind.

He’s excited about the race, but he has a new love now - Kyla, who is letting the neighborhood know she just woke up.

“This is where I’m putting most of my time now,” Carpenter said. “And I love it.”

Copyright 2003, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Back to the Press Archives