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He may win the race but he’ll never really conquer the peak

By Scott Smith/The Gazette

The fourth-place plaque from the 1987 Pikes Peak Marathon bears a special inscription on the nameplate: Matt “I am Pikes Peak” Carpenter.

The nickname? Courtesy of Carpenter’s newfound friends who had spent the night before the race listening to the 23-year-old’s interminable bravado. He had never raced to the summit of the 14,110-foot mountain. Nor had he ever actually seen the Peak, much less tread on Barr Trail. But that didn’t stop him from boasting that “this race is nothing.”

He was much quieter the next day. Especially when he was woofing his cookies after struggling up the 13.4-mile trip up the rocky trail.

“That’s when I decided this race is awesome. I couldn’t believe anything could beat me up that bad,” says Carpenter, who set race records for the ascent and round trip in 1993 that still stand. He’s won the marathon three times and the ascent two times.

Carpenter hasn’t competed on the Peak since 1994. But after two years of primarily competing in skymarathons, he’ll be back on Barr Trail Aug. 16 in the Pikes Peak Ascent, trying to better his time of 2 hours 1 minute, 6 seconds.

“I have two fundamental goals left on the Peak,” he says. “I’d like to break two hours, and I’d like to pull off that double (win the ascent and the marathon on consecutive days — he placed 2nd and a 1st in 1989 and 1st and 6th in 1990). It’s a very scary race, though. You get on that start line and you’re scared, ’cause you know it’s gonna hurt.

“You’ll never hear me say I beat the Peak. I’ve run up there pretty fast, and that mountain doesn’t care. I’ll never conquer the Peak.”

Copyright © 1997, The Gazette
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