He is registered to run in Sunday’s 56th running of the marathon and he has every intention of going for win No. 12, but no guarantees … and no apologies.
“I hope to do the marathon,” Carpenter said. “A lot will depend on how I feel on race day. But for now I’m planning on being there.”
No runner has dominated the Pikes Peak Marathon like Carpenter. He set both the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon records in 1993 - while running the marathon - tagging the peak’s 14,115-foot summit in 2 hours, 1 minute and 6 seconds, then charging to the finish in 3:16:39.
VIDEO: Carpenter makes the turn in 2010 Pikes Peak Marathon
VIDEO: 2010 post-race interview with Matt Carpenter
But he admits the years and miles of rugged trail work have begun to take their toll. He managed to run and win again on Pikes Peak in 2010, but trained in pain for much of the year. Even Matt Carpenter’s body wears down after so many long runs in the backcountry. And when running becomes a grind, the allure starts to fade.
“Everybody gets to a point where things just aren’t as fun as they once were,” Carpenter said. “If it stops being fun, I’ll give it up.”
It seems as though Carpenter was born to run on Pikes Peak. He has the classic distance-runner’s body type, lean and strong. On the flats, his stride is fluid and graceful, like any great marathon runner. In the mountain’s he has developed a quick and efficient step that consumes the trail. His body processes oxygen better than seven-time Tour de France Champion Lance Armstrong's.
Carpenter has stepped to the starting line in Manitou Springs 22 times and has 17 wins, including six in the Ascent.
And he has always been his own man, community minded and a champion of running, racing and the people who dedicate their lives to the sport. In 2000, he started the Barr Trail Mountain Race, an event that is widely known as one of the best trail races in the country. He was elected to the Manitou Springs City Council in 2009. He and wife Yvonne – a good runner and cyclist – have a daughter Kyla.
And now the big days of training and racing … well, he may keep going but it’s easy to detect a little ‘been-there-done-that’ in his voice.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a long career,” he said. “Just three years ago I was 2:08 on the ascent. I could keep going. I’m not convinced that you can have too many wins, but you can have enough.”
One last thing to consider. Matt Carpenter is a tough and determined competitor. He coined the phrase “Go out hard, when it hurts speed up!” So don’t be surprised if he pushes that marathon win total to an even dozen on Sunday … no apologies.