This story has been archived from the Sunday, August 20, 2006

Many expect Carpenter to challenge course record


Will he or won’t he?

Talk is buzzing among local runners that Matt Carpenter, 42, the 11-time champion of Pikes Peak (six Marathons, five Ascents), is planning an attempt to break his record of 2 hours, 1 minute and 6 seconds for the 13.32-mile uphill portion of the Marathon today in Manitou Springs.

No one has come close to the record, set in 1993. Carpenter, who lives in Manitou Springs near the base of Pikes Peak, also owns the marathon record of 3:16:39, set in the same 1993 race. He has become legendary in local and worldwide mountain-running circles. On Saturday, he handed out awards to Ascent age-group winners. He is downplaying talk of the record.

“It’d be pretty wild to go for a record 13 years later,” he said. “I would like to think that is plausible, but reality and what we want are often two different things.”

Carpenter is the only person to win both the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon on successive days. His reputation for jaw-dropping results at high altitude took another leap last year, when he skipped the Pikes Peak races to shatter the record for the Leadville 100, a multi-day, 100-mile sufferfest.

For today, he’s hoping for cool, damp weather like Saturday’s Ascent.

“You couldn’t have asked for better weather,” he said. “Pikes Peak’s one of those races where you worry about your run and hopefully the time and your place takes care of itself.”

Word is that Carpenter’s training times for today’s marathon have approached those of 1993. So is he going for the record?

“He intimated that to me,” said Ron Ilgen, Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon race director, of Carpenter’s intention. “He’s in that mind-set like he was last year for Leadville, no e-mail, his mind’s on the race.”

Or isn’t he?

A cut suffered when running barefoot in June set him back, Carpenter said. Barefoot running has been part of his training routine since 1987. While running on a track, he sliced his heel to the bone and couldn’t run flats or downhill for a month. It nearly drove him bonkers.

“I said, ‘God, just shoot me now,’” he said.

Carpenter can’t resist letting a little ambition slip out about the record.

“If all things went perfect, I think that’s possible,” he said. “This is a mountain and it’s so rare all things are perfect.”

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

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