This story has been archived from the Sunday, August 22, 2004

Elliott in tip-top shape, wins for the eighth time


Scott Elliott wheezed and coughed and paced back and forth in the old granite building atop Pikes Peak on Saturday morning.

His legs were like dry sticks of wood. He couldn’t sit down. He could barely talk. And simply lifting his feet took a monumental effort.

That’s what running and winning the grueling 13.32-mile Pikes Peak Ascent does to some people. From the race’s start in Manitou Springs to the 14,110-foot summit of Pikes Peak, the twisting, rocky course gains more than 7,000 feet in lung-searing elevation.

And fickle Mother Nature put her twist on the race, dropping a slushy layer of snow above tree line early Saturday morning. Five inches of snow fell at the summit, which had a wind chill of about 25 degrees when Elliott finished in 2 hours, 23 minutes, 31 seconds.

Anita Ortiz won her fourth women’s race in a row.

The Pikes Peak Marathon begins at 7 a.m. today.

Elliott, a 40-year-old Boulder resident, had won the Ascent seven times, but less than three miles in, he didn’t know if another win was possible. A painful stitch in his side, an old nemesis that had pestered him before, jabbed him as he charged up the switchbacks on Mount Manitou early in the race.

He had the lead but could only watch as Ryan Hafer, 18, and a recent graduate of Coronado High School, and Cornelis Guijt of Colorado Springs passed him.

“I just kept telling myself that the race doesn’t begin until Barr Camp,” Elliott said.

He knows that area well. He lived in a tent at Barr Camp, about seven miles up Barr Trail from Manitou Springs, for the previous three weeks. From there, he ran to the summit of Pikes Peak 17 times in 15 days.

“I knew I was in pretty good condition because I could feel myself getting stronger every day,” Elliott said. “I knew they would have to be in good altitude shape because I’m acclimated. I knew they would have to run out of their heads.”

Hafer and Guijt ran well. But they weren’t fast enough to hold off Elliott, who shook the pain in his side, put the hammer down in the thinning air and passed them as he broke onto Pikes Peak’s treeless granite cap at about 11,000 feet.

“I gobbled up the first guy in front of me and that really helped my confidence,” Elliott said. “I caught and passed Ryan a couple of switchbacks above tree line.”

About 400 fans cheered Elliott when he reached the summit. Hafer, one of the best young distance runners from Colorado Springs, finished in 2:26:59. Guijt crossed in 2:31:43.

In the women’s race, Ortiz, a mother of four, showed no signs of the fractured hip she sustained while running in the Bolder Boulder in May.

Ortiz was the first woman to leave the pavement and reach the trailhead just above the Pikes Peak Cog Railway.

The Eagle resident led the whole way, scrambling through slush and mud past the finish line in 2:44:58, a Masters-class (40-older) record.

Leanne Whitesides, 34, of Grand Junction, who also has four children, placed second in 2:59:09.

“I did this race 17 years ago and I always wanted to come back,” Whitesides said. “But with the little ones, it made it kind of hard.”

FIRST-PLACE MAN: Scott Elliott, Boulder, 2:23:31, won his eighth title with a strong effort above treeline.
FIRST-PLACE WOMAN: Anita Ortiz, Eagle, 2:44:58, won her fourth straight title after fracturing her hip in May.

TODAY’S MARATHON: Starts at 7 a.m. at Memorial Park in Manitou Springs.


Copyright 2004, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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