This story has been archived from the Sunday, August 20, 2006 Denver Post

Carpenter remains king of mountain

By John Meyer
Denver Post Staff Writer

MANITOU SPRINGS — Matt Carpenter had relatively little to gain and America’s most famous mountain to lose Sunday in the Pikes Peak Marathon.

Thanks to a record of achievement that has made him a mountain running legend, the 14,110-foot peak belongs to him as much as namesake Zebulon Pike and Katharine Lee Bates, who wrote “America the Beautiful” after visiting its summit in 1893. But this time the race was a de facto world championship — designated as this year’s World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge — and Carpenter faced a top international field determined to bring him down.

Carpenter’s biggest challenge might have been overcoming the anxiety he felt as the favorite. He overcame it to win his seventh Pikes Peak Marathon in 3 hours, 33 minutes, 7 seconds. Carpenter, who lives about 2 miles from the trailhead, also has won the 7,815-foot Pikes Peak Ascent five times.

“He wanted it pretty bad,” said Carpenter’s wife, Yvonne. “He was very nervous before the race. There’s a lot of good people here, and they came from very far not to do bad, they came to win. It is his mountain, but anything can happen. He never takes it for granted.#&148;

Carpenter didn’t get much sleep the night before the race and ran scared every step.

“I just ran,” said Carpenter, 42. “I stuck my fear between my legs and ran.#&148;

Carpenter banged his ankles on rocks twice on the descent, which fed his worries but sharpened his focus.

“Fear makes you run well, but if you handle it the wrong way you can blow a race, too,” Carpenter said.

“It’s tricky to balance it. I was glad once the gun went off. You got a lot of people coming in and a lot of people talking. I didn’t want to talk a lot. You’ve got to let your feet do the talking, not your mouth.#&148;

Galen Burrell of Boulder, the 2004 winner, finished second in 3:45:41 despite battling a nagging foot injury in recent months.

“It’s a personal victory because I overcame a lot of adversity,” said Burrell, 27, an architectural engineer. “I just stayed focused all year long, looking at this race. I just wanted to demonstrate my full potential today, and I think I did that.#&148;

Carpenter was thrilled the American men were able to hold off the Europeans, whose mountain races are at significantly lower elevations.

“That means as much as anything,” Carpenter said. “They’re not in Europe anymore.#&148;

Emma Murray of Australia, who trained for the race by running on a treadmill in an altitude-simulation tent, was the first woman to finish in 4:21:09. Danelle Ballengee of Dillon was second in 4:25:44.

“She was running awesome right from the start,” Ballengee said of Murray. “She was climbing up the hills really strong.”

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