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Meghan M. Hicks Tuesday, 25 June 2013 13:13 TWEET COMMENTS 9

Legends of the Trail - Page 2

Carpemter in a Skyrunning race back in the day; he excels all altitude-a VO2 max of 90.2 doesn't hurt.

Matt Carpenter
Jedi master of Pikes Peak

You can call Manitou Springs, Colorado, resident Matt Carpenter one of the world’s best trail runners. The 48-year-old has not only built his life around the sport, but has also helped build the sport.

Carpenter is married to Yvonne, a runner he met during a run put on by the Incline Club, a trail-running club Carpenter co-founded to help support and promote Manitou-Springs-area running. In 2000, the couple ran to their (on-trail) ceremony in Colorado’s Waldo Canyon. Their now-10-year-old daughter, Kyla, accompanied Matt on hundreds of training miles via her jogging stroller and has already run several races of her own.

Carpenter has lived at the base of Pikes Peak (14,114 feet), the hulking peak 10 miles west of Colorado Springs, for almost 15 years and trained on it more than any other human, ever. He has won the Pikes Peak Ascent six times and the Pikes Peak Marathon 12 times, most recently in 2011—you might call him the Jedi master of Pikes Peak. He’s both the ascent and marathon course-record holder (2:01:06 for the ascent and 3:16:39 for the marathon), both of which he marked during the 1993 marathon.

“Matt’s 2:01 Pikes Peak Ascent record is unreal. Probably a couple runners, like last year’s winner Mario [Macias], can run Matt’s splits to Barr Camp,” hypothesizes Simon Gutierrez, who has run the ascent seven times, won it three and has a 2:13:29 ascent PR. Barr Camp is located about seven miles from the start and at a little over 10,000 feet. From there, the course rises six more miles to the 14,050-foot finish line. Continues Gutierrez, “But at the altitudes above Barr Camp, there’s no one who can perform like Matt. Not yet. That record is going to last a while longer.”

Beyond the Colorado mountain, Carpenter’s pedigree goes on forever. He’s won and owns the course record for The North Face endurance challenge 50-mile championship, the Leadville Trail 100, the Barr Mountain Trail race, the San Juan Solstice 50, the Vail Hill Climb, the Imogene Pass run, the Everest Skymarathon and many more. He’s thrice captured the top spot at the Mount Washington road race and he’s championed a pair of Skyrunning race series in the 1990s. Oh, and he’s the world-record holder for running a marathon at altitude, putting down both a 2:52:57 at 14,435 feet (in 1997 at the Everest Skymarathon) and a 3:22:25 at an obscene 17,060 feet above sea level (also at the Everest Skymarathon but in 1995 when the race was held at an even higher altitude).

Carpenter’s racing success is built on good genes—his Vo2 max is an off-the-charts 90.2—and a sacrificing-most-things training ethic. carpenter tells the following story on the incline club’s website, which describes the depth of his training commitment: I had a rather upset stomach once on a day scheduled for a hard workout. So I did 30 minutes of one-minute hard, one-minute easy, on my treadmill [in the garage]. As the one-minute hard was coming to an end I would use the remote to close the garage door and sit on a bucket for a bathroom break because it was not possible to get to the bathroom and back that fast. Then I would quickly open the door for some fresh air and the next hard minute. I called that workout 30 minutes of one-minute hard, one-minute dump.

Carpenter’s connection with running doesn’t end there, as he’s the vice president of the Pikes Peak marathon, inc. Board of Directors. Says president and Pikes Peak ascent and marathon race Director Ron Ilgen, “Matt is the most passionate person i know about the mountain and its races. He’s also fiercely passionate about providing for elite runners at our races.”

Ilgen continues, “I remember the year I took over race directorship, 2002. Matt won the ascent in a time far slower than his record. The first thing he did after he finished was to tell me, ‘Look how slow I ran and won. I should have been beaten. We need to do more to bring in competitive athletes.’ We now offer elite entries, prize money and course-record bounties. He’s convinced me of the importance of these things.”

— 1981 > At age 17, Matt Carpenter runs his first marathon, the Mississippi Marathon, in 3:11:11 (He improves his time to 2:41:23 at the 1982 race.).

— 1988> Carpenter wins the Pikes Peak Marathon for the first of so-far 12 times.

— 1990> Carpenter wins the Pikes Peak Ascent for the first of so-far six times.

— 1990> Carpenter’s VO2 max is recorded at 90.2, one of the highest ever for any runner, at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Recorded at just over 6000 feet elevation, the figure is undoubtedly higher when scaled to sea-level values. Carpenter in a Skyrunning race back in the day; he excels at altitude—a VO2 max of 90.2 doesn’t hurt.

— 1992> Carpenter runs the Olympic Marathon Trials in 2:32:26.

— 1993> Carpenter runs the Pikes Peak Marathon and simultaneously sets both the ascent and marathon course records.

— 2004> Carpenter races the Leadville Trail 100 (LT 100), his first 100-mile attempt, and finishes 14th in a painful 22 hours and 43 minutes.

— 2005> Carpenter sets the LT 100 course record at 15:42:59, avenging his previous year’s race.

— 2011> Carpenter wins the Pikes Peak Marathon, his most recent race, in 3:48:08.


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