This story has been archived from the Friday, August 20, 2004

Champion Ortiz has sights set on fourth win in row


Anita Ortiz never got caught up in the Barbie doll craze.

A tomboy as a young girl, Ortiz preferred to wind the motorcycle of her Evil Knievel doll and watch it fly over cars.

She also liked to run and get dirty — both of which could help the 40-year-old when she goes for her fourth straight victory in the women’s division of Saturday’s Pikes Peak Ascent, which starts at 7 a.m. in Manitou Springs. The second wave is at 7:30 a.m.

With the recent downpour of rain, the 13.32-mile race that gains 7,815 feet in elevation, mostly on Barr Trail, is sure to be muddy and slippery.

“The nastier the better it is for me,” Ortiz said. “I’m good at ugly conditions. Other people are like, ‘Ahh,’ they don’t like getting wet. I like being dirty and grubby. The mushier courses slow faster people and favors the strong.”

Ortiz, a mother of four, will not run in Sunday’s marathon, which begins at 7 a.m.

Of course, she’s recovering from a left-hip fracture that she suffered during the Bolder Boulder 10-kilometer race in late May. Ortiz completed the race in 37 minutes, 28 seconds and was the seventh female finisher.

“At first it didn’t hurt at all,” Ortiz said. “But the next day it kind of hurt and I said, ‘Oh, it must just be bursitis.’ “

Two days later, Ortiz couldn’t walk. She couldn’t even lift her left foot. Ortiz, who typically runs 30 races a year (15 running and 15 snowshoe) was primed to do the National Mountain Running Championship in Mount Washington, N.H.

“I was in the shape of my life,” Ortiz said. “I had a whole bunch of important races planned, I was in great shape, ready to go, and the injury stopped me cold.”

Since the injury, Ortiz has been able to bike indoors, swim and run on an elliptical machine. She’s only run a few times, but she did complete a 12-mile jog two weeks ago.

“It’s getting there but it’s not 100 percent,” Ortiz said. “It still hurts but I’ve been cleared to run. Months ago, I didn’t know if I’d be running yet, so I’m pleased to be able to do it.”

Ortiz is a teacher at Eagle Valley Elementary and lives in Eagle, the site of the upcoming Kobe Bryant sexual assault trial.

“It’s a small town so everybody knows the girl,” Ortiz said. “It kind of bothers everybody because it’s a small town so you kind of protect your own. People have their views (of what happened) but nobody knows. It’s a he-said, she-said thing completely.”


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

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