This story has been archived from the Sunday, August 20, 2006

A fight to the finish

Goldsmith holds off competition, defends crown


MANITOU SPRINGS — Lisa Goldsmith was defending her Pikes Peak Ascent title, but Saturday, it seemed the mountain had evened the score.

A mile or so from the 14,115-foot summit, with the finish line in sight, Goldsmith, 41, of Nederland, was hurting so much she had to walk. Still, she wound up winning the 13.32-mile race in 2 hours, 46 minutes, 7 seconds — 38 seconds faster than Cindy O’Neill, 44, of Manitou Springs. Anita Ortiz, 42, of Eagle, was third in 2:48:56.


Nederland resident Lisa Goldsmith neared the top of Pikes Peak on her way to winning the women’s division of Saturday’s Ascent.
Goldsmith’s winning margin over O’Neill was identical to last year. It just seemed closer with O’Neill closing fast with a mile to go. Because of rocks, Goldsmith had to watch where she was going. She couldn’t look back as often as she wanted to check on O’Neill. But she didn’t need to.

“I could hear her husband,” Goldsmith said.

That was John O’Neill, manager of the Colorado Running Company in Colorado Springs.

“The last few switchbacks, John was yelling, ‘She’s right up ahead! She’s walking!’” said Cindy O’Neill, whose prerace fluids included Pepto-Bismol because she was ill with lingering flu.

That helped O’Neill, but it was also enough to spur Goldsmith, who had overtaken O’Neill and Colorado Springs’ Stephanie Jones about 1˝ miles into the race. At Barr Camp, more than halfway through, spectators told O’Neill that Goldsmith had opened a 3˝-minute gap. But near the end, Goldsmith said she felt herself fading as O’Neill picked up steam.

“I walked when I had to,” said Goldsmith, who finished 20th overall in the 1,800-person field. “I ran when I could. I was really hurting the last mile.”

O’Neill woke Saturday achy and tired from a flu that began Wednesday. She visited a doctor Thursday and received antibiotics. On race morning, she decided not to race. John persuaded her to not waste all the training hours.

Turned out it was good advice. O’Neill said she felt stronger as she got higher. With two miles left, she passed Ortiz.

“I was just feeling terrific,” she said.

She could see Goldsmith walking. But even with that, and encouragement from spectators, O’Neill felt Goldsmith had too much of a lead.

“I really didn’t believe I could catch her,” O’Neill said.

She couldn’t. Goldsmith said recent training sessions with Boulder resident Scott Elliott, the eight-time Ascent men’s champion who placed second Saturday, have helped.

After her win, in the medical room atop Pikes Peak, Goldsmith received oxygen through a tube placed below her nose. Her race hadn’t been pretty, but it had been enough. Neither the mountain nor O’Neill had managed to beat her.

“She had a great day,” O’Neill said.

Copyright 2006, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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