The fatigue faded for a moment when the first woman to finish a U.S. marathon put the winner’s medal around Anita Ortiz’s neck at the Pikes Peak Marathon.
This year marked the 50th anniversary of when Arlene (Pieper) Stine completed the race in 9 hours, 16 minutes. She was the race’s honorary starter early Sunday.
“It was pretty cool to meet her this morning before the race,” said Ortiz, who won the women’s title in a time of 4:28.20. “To have her see me win it and make that connection was special.”
It was Ortiz’s first Pikes Peak Marathon though she has ample experience competing in endurance races. She ran a 100-mile race earlier this summer and will compete in the six-day, 113-mile TransRockies race this weekend.
Ortiz won the Ascent four times in a row (2001-04) and had considered competing in both events this weekend.
Ortiz, 48, of Eagle, was the first female to reach the summit (2:38.57), but the length of the race (26.21 miles) took its toll.
“I reached the top and was so happy,” she said. “Then I realized I had another 13 miles to go. That was disheartening.”
Runner-up Sharon Kuhn, 50, of Durango, finished in 4:59.53. That crushed the previous ages 50-54 mark (5:41.55, 1998) by Colleen George of Scottsdale, Ariz.
For Kuhn, knowing Stine raced the year she was born proved inspiring.
“I’m just getting started racing,” Kuhn said.