August 16, 2009
Matt Carpenter peered over the start line Sunday before the Pikes Peak Marathon, and the smile on his face turned into a frown when he didn’t see Ricardo Mejia, the last person to beat him on America’s mountain.
“I was bummed,” said Carpenter, a Manitou Springs resident.
So bummed that Carpenter relieved his frustration in similar fashion, continuing a record-setting streak of dominance in the Marathon with a decisive win over a 711-person field lacking punch minus the Mexican runner lauded for his high-altitude prowess.
In his fourth straight Marathon title, his record 10th overall, Carpenter, 45, led from start to finish in the 26.21-mile race from Manitou Springs to the 14,115-foot summit and back — his time of 3 hours, 37 minutes, 2 seconds plenty fast enough.
Under sunny skies and calm winds, nobody threatened Carpenter, even though he entered 4 pounds underweight and injured his right ankle on the steep switchbacks in his descent. He topped Daryn Parker, 28, of Manitou Springs, by 10:13 and Bernie Boettcher, 46, of Silt, by 28:56.
In the women’s race, four-time Ascent champion Anita Ortiz, 45, of Eagle, also scored a blowout, finishing in 4:28:20. That was 31:33 better than Sharon Kuhn, 50, of Durango, and 46 minutes ahead of Andrea Williams, 28, of Eldorado Springs.
Chances are Carpenter would have been tested by Mejia, a 46-year-old who triumphed in the Marathon five times, most notably a 19-minute victory over Carpenter in 1992. Mejia leads the Skyrunner World Series, an international circuit of high-altitude races including the Marathon, and was the runner-up at a July 26 event in Italy.
Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon race director Ron Ilgen said Mejia registered but didn’t collect his race packet and never checked into his Manitou Springs hotel. Carpenter said he had “not a clue” about Mejia’s whereabouts.
“I was excited that Ricardo was going to be here, and it didn’t work out,” Carpenter said. “He’s a great competitor. I wanted to see if he had aged as well as I have. … I was by myself a lot, and I wasn’t really racing.”
Carpenter held such a big advantage, Parker never saw him again after turning around at the summit. Boettcher even stopped to take a picture of Carpenter.
“It’s always a race for second with Matt around,” Parker said. “He’s built so tough. … On this mountain, he’s untouchable.”
Added Boettcher, “There was never any thought I would beat Matt unless he fell and hurt himself. I don’t know of anyone — maybe except Ricardo — that would have a chance.”
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