This story has been archived from the Monday, August 22, 2005 Vail Daily

Ortiz knows pain potential of Pikes

By Shauna Farnell

August 22, 2005

COLORADO SPRINGS - Anita Ortiz was sad to hear the news of a death during the Pikes Peak Marathon. But she wasn’t surprised.

Four-time Pikes Peak Ascent women's winner Anita Ortiz of Eagle rounds the last corner of the 13.32-mile race toward the finish line at the summit of Pikes Peak Saturday near Colorado Springs. Ortiz finished fourth in the women's race. On Sunday, the Pikes Peak Marathon claimed the life of 59-year-old Gary Williams of Oklahoma.

Ortiz finished fourth Saturday in the Pikes Peak Ascent, which is the half-version of the marathon that takes racers up the 14,115-foot to the finish line at the summit. She finished in 3 hours, 5 minutes and 13 seconds, a disappointing time for the Eagle resident, who has won the previous four ascents and holds the women’s record in two age categories.

“I was about 20 minutes off my pace,” said Ortiz. “How do you lose 20 minutes in a half-marathon? If I had run even marginally like I normally do, it would have been better. I could feel it from the outset. My back started seizing up. It was just a bad day.”

Her day was put into perspective Sunday by Gary Williams, the 59-year-old from Oklahoma who died during the Pikes Peak Marathon. Williams collapsed two miles from the finish line, in an area with which Ortiz is very familiar.

“I know right where it is,” she said. “When I heard, I was sitting there thinking, ‘That’s the most miserable section of the course.’ It’s when you’re first coming out above treeline. You can look up from there and see how far you still have to go. The trail is on these tiny, fine pebbles. It’s a mental and physical killer right there.”

With 7,815 feet of elevation gain, the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon are two of the most vertical races in the world.

“Even before I heard, I was telling Mike (her husband) how Pikes Peak is so hard,” Ortiz said. “It is so hard to go back to it every year, even if you love it. I’ve never done anything so hard in my life as running up that mountain. Mike said having the kids was harder, but I said, ‘No way.’ Doing that kind of thing, running up a mountain like that, it’s a mountain that takes your weakness. It finds your weakness and takes it.”

Ortiz plans to do a couple more local races before she heads to New Zealand on Sept. 23 to compete in a World Cup trailrunning race.

Lisa Goldsmith of Nederland won the women’s Ascent Saturday with a time of 2:50:02. Ryan Hafer, 19, of Colorado Springs, won the men’s race in 2:21:30. Vail resident Mike Kloser was fourth in 2:25:39.

As he was busy setting a new record in the Leadville Trail 100 last weekend, multiple Pikes Peak Marathon winner Matt Carpenter didn’t compete in the marathon Sunday. In his absence, Italy’s Fulvio Dapit finished with a time of 3:58:49 for the win, consideralbly off Carpenter’s record time of 3:16:39 set in 1993.

Eagle resident Sean Larkin was the 18th man to finish with a time of 4:36:39.

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