The Legendary Pikes Peak Marathon Men’s Record

AJW's TaproomFor more than 25 years, legendary Colorado runner Matt Carpenter has held the Pikes Peak Marathon men’s course record. His 1993 victory in 3:16:39 is one of the longest-standing course records in American trail running and, in many ways, represents the ‘holy grail’ of course records in the sport. (Here is my 2012 article on Carpenter’s records.) This year Kilian Jornet is returning to Pikes Peak after a seven-year absence and, for the first time in quite a few years, there is speculation that Carpenter’s record run up “America’s Mountain” could be in jeopardy.

On that fateful August day in 1993, Carpenter reached the summit in 2:01:06, a record split that still stands as the fastest ascent time at the historic event, and then blistered the descent in 1:15:33. Only Dakota Jones’s 1:13:53 descent set at last year’s race, is faster than Carpenter’s. Additionally, only Carpenter’s arch nemesis from the 1990s, Ricardo Mejia, has come within striking distance of Carpenter with a 3:21:32 in 1995. In the 23 years since then, only Mejia with a 3:29 in 1996 has even broken 3:30 for the race. Jones’s 3:32:20 to win the 2018 event is the closest anyone’s gotten to a 3:30 finish time since.

When Kilian raced the Pikes Peak Marathon in 2012, he won in 3:40:26, way off record pace. So, why is there speculation that perhaps the record could finally go down to Kilian Jornet?

Here are my three reasons why:

Kilian is fresh.

In a typical year by the end of August, Kilian has raced some long events or taken on some immense mountain challenges. Not that Kilian is ever really worn out by normal standards, but a quick look at his exploits over the past decade suggests that August has not been his prime time. This year, it looks like it is with just a handful of shorter races, no major 100 milers or big mountain projects, and a clear indication that he is fit based on his course record at Sierre-Zinal two weeks ago.

Kilian is focused.

While it would be hard to argue that Kilian is ever anything but focused, some have observed that there are times he goes into events and challenges with more of an attitude of fun and camaraderie than others. I believe he is going into this one to break the record. Going all the way back to my conversation with him earlier this year in preparation for my article on his 2010 season, I sensed in Kilian a drive that is as strong and powerful as his legs. It is this focused drive that leads me to believe he can summit Pikes in two hours flat and descend in 1:15.

Kilian is a student of the sport.

While his exploits are indeed legendary, Kilian also has a keen sense of history as was evidenced in his Bob Graham Round record last year. I believe this sense of history combined with, perhaps, a sense of urgency as Father Time marches on, have provided Kilian with this unique opportunity to surpass one of the most iconic records in American trail running.

And so it is with his fitness, freshness, focus, and sense of history that I think Kilian will get the record on Sunday. In fact, my sources tell me that he was already on the mountain as of Wednesday doing some recon. That fact, along with the body of work Kilian is bringing to the mountain this weekend, says to me that the time has come for the King of Pikes Peak to be re-crowned.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Bristol Brewing Company in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Their Yellow Kite Summer Pils is the perfect beer to enjoy after a long day in the high mountains of Colorado’s Front Range. Lightly hopped, with a slight touch of spice and sweetness, Yellow Kite is an ideal summer mountain beer.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Alright, let’s do this debate. Will he or won’t he? Will Kilian Jornet reset the men’s course record held by Matt Carpenter at Sunday’s Pikes Peak Marathon?
  • And, will he reset Marr Carpenter’s ascent record in the process?

Kilian Jornet at the start of the 2012 Pikes Peak Marathon. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

Kilian about to summit Pikes Peak during the 2012 Pikes Peak Marathon. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

After the 2012 Pikes Peak Marathon where Kilian won, Alex Nichols (not pictured) took second, and Max King (right) took third. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

There are 38 comments

  1. Scott G

    AJW – Thanks for the great article! It’s a great debate…A couple of other things to consider.
    * 1993 was Matt’s 9th race on Pikes Peak at that point. I believe he had also been living in Colorado Springs for a couple of years by then. So how many ascents did he have of the mountain by then? Dozens? More than hundred? My point is, he probably knew the mountain way better than Kilian does.
    * I’ve been of the opinion that Kilian won’t break the record because he won’t have to. i.e. there won’t be anyone to push him. Although in 1993 the 2nd place in the marathon was Mejia with a time of 3:42 (with an ascent of 2:16, so Matt knew he already had a 15+ minute lead by the time he saw him)
    * The marathon field is quite a bit bigger these days than it was in 1993. That means instead of passing ~500 people on the way down, Kilian has to pass about ~700. That makes Dakota’s descent from last year even more remarkable!
    * Finally, only one other runner has ever gone sub 2:05 on the ascent on the current course (Martin Rodriguez – 1995 w/ a 2:04:51) and he was being chased by Mejia (2:05:04 ascent). So, any ascent under 2:05 would be quite remarkable!

    Should be a great race!

  2. SageCanaday

    Scott G.
    What do you mean by your last point?:
    “Only one runner has ever gone sub 2:05 on the ascent on the current course” [and it was Martin Rodriguez]
    Are you saying the Ascent record of 2:01 set by Carpenter was on a different course then?

    In any case at the very best I’d say Kilian is up in around 2:05-2:04 and down in 1:14. But I’m still thinking the winning time will be just over 3:20 this weekend. Then again I thought there would be no way Kilian could run faster than 2:28 at Sierre-Zinal (and take down Jono’s record) and he surprised with a 2:25. So there’s that.

    1. Scott G

      I wrote “only one other runner has ever gone sub 2:05”. Meaning – only one person besides Matt.

      Rick Trujillo ran a 2:01:47 ascent in 1975, but according to Carpenter’s website (http://skyrunner.com/ppcourse.htm) the course was about 1.1 miles shorter: “When the race started in 1956 the start and finish were located in front of the COG depot. In 1960 the finish was moved .7 miles down Ruxton to its current location. In 1976 the race start was moved from the COG down to its present location in front of City Hall which added 1.1 miles. That was the last course change.”

      Good luck on Sunday, Sage!

    2. CLF

      I can’t speak for Scott, but I did notice on the PP website that the last “official” course change involving distance occurred in 1976, adding 1.1 miles. And prior to that, Rick Trujillo had registered a 2:01 summit split, which has been officially estimated (again on the website) to have been worth roughly 2:09 on the modern course.

      Please, let’s not go down the “different course” rabbit hole for the upteenth time!

      Good luck to Kilian, Sage, and everyone else out there this weekend.

      1. SageCanaday

        You’re right George! I stand corrected. Man, I think I need more coffee this morning (not thinking clearly). Having only run up the Ascent in 2:10 I can’t imagine what a 2:01 (or even sub 2:05) would feel like!

        If Kilian goes up on record pace this Sunday I don’t see anybody in the field that can follow him….at least after Barr Camp.

        Good luck to all the runners this weekend.

  3. Michael Everest

    I don’t think Kilian needs anyone to chase him to break any record. He always has in his mind the splits of those who have run before him. I think he can set a new CR but weather temps may be a factor as I heard it’s going to be quite warm. Remy , hus Salomon teammate said KILIAN is looking very fit and fast and everyone else will be behind him, and seemed to say Kilian may break the ascent record. His teammates know his fitness level best so If they’re saying he can do it, then he just might!

  4. John Vanderpot

    Factor in the “fresh father effect” and nothing going crazy wrong (someone wanders out in front of him on his flight down) and the above noted by AJW and I like his chances…

  5. Avon Barksdale

    I believe the Pikes Peak Marathon record is the most solid record on the books in all running categories. There are a lot of soft records in Ultrarunning and when they get broken by large margins, it skews our perception of what is possible. Last year when Dakota broke the decent record, it inspired a lot of hope and made Matt’s record seem vulnerable. Although Dakota’s downhill was amazing, his overall performance was a world away from Matt’s 1993 run. Assuming that not much more time could be shaved off the decent, Dakota would need to run over a minute per mile faster on the ascent to touch Matt’s record. That is not a trivial amount of time. When we look at exceptional performances on the mountain, they are still off by large margins of time. Being 5 minutes away from a record might seem close in a 100 or 50 mile race, but on Pikes Peak 5 minutes is a HUGE time gap to overcome. Joe Gray’s 2016 2:05 has been the fastest Ascent we’ve seen in the last 2 decades, but I’d still call that WAY off Matt’s record Ascent, plus Joe’s outstanding performance was not immediately followed by the now 2nd fastest decent ever. If you think about the decent record, it’s super-fast given the terrain and the fatigue from running a half-marathon uphill, but it would definitely be faster if there was a decent only and we could challenge the record on fresh legs. The Pikes Peak Ascent gives us an opportunity to see how fast we can do just the uphill portion of the Marathon without the decent and we’re still 4 minutes away from the record. Matt’s record is challenging us to cut 4 minutes off Joe’s time and then repeat Dakota’s effort. Even if we combined Joe and Dakota’s efforts, we’d still be off Matt’s record.

    I think Killian may have the capability to break the record, however he lack’s Matt’s course focus necessary to do it. When we talk about course knowledge and experience, we typically think about running a course multiple times or doing a race several years, but Matt’s course knowledge and focus is so much deeper. Not exaggerating, the man has run large sections of the trail thousands of times, not a dozen, not a hundred, THOUSANDS. Matt will joke that he knows every rock and pebble of the course, that is not too far from the truth. The only way I see Matt’s Marathon record being broken is if a “once in a generation” type mountain runner, possibly like Killian, devotes a year’s focus to nothing but Pikes Peak. Matt was that person and devoted multiple years to nothing but the mountain.

    I’m not writing this as a Carpenter fan boy, in fact, I’d love to see the record fall as I think Matt [phrase redacted by the editor as it’s against iRunFar’s comment policy], but I think all we’ll see on Sunday is just how solid the record really is – the most solid record in running.

    1. Scott G

      I don’t doubt Matt has run that trail thousands of times. But by the 1993 race I doubt he had run it thousands of times. That’s why I wrote “dozens? More than a hundred?”

    2. CLF

      I thought I had read once, on one of Matt’s own blogs, interviews, or similar, that in the summer of ’93 he signed up to be the volunteer caretaker at the Barr camp cabins. In doing so he basically ran to the summit and back every morning (12-13 miles RT), followed up by another run of various style (intervals, etc…) every afternoon.

      Am I losing it – or can anyone else confirm this? If true – it pretty much says it all.

  6. Avon Barksdale

    Scott-

    Given the timing, you’re probably right. I love the conversation and attention to this epic race. I’d love to see Killlan devote his energy to the CR, but I don’t see it happening this year or without extreme singular focus, like Matt possessed.

    Back in the 90’s guys like Matt and Scott Elliot (another PP Legend) would camp right below tree line for weeks at a time before the race to train and acclimate to 10,000+ feet. They’d run the top sections multiple times a day.

    I’ve always amazed by this record. It’s like running a 4 minute mile when no one else is capable of a 2 minute 1/2 mile.

    1. CLF

      @Avon – your comment “Back in the 90’s guys like Matt and Scott Elliot (another PP Legend) would camp right below tree line for weeks at a time before the race to train and acclimate to 10,000+ feet. They’d run the top sections multiple times a day.” – sounds similar in nature to what I posted below (about Matt caretaking at Barr camp). Do you have any insight/comment on that?

      Regardless, wow these guys were obsessed!

  7. BW

    I will admit I am not as much of a scholar on this as many others but I agree with AJ that Kilian will get the CR this year. But my prediction is that he will get both the up and the down record. I think he can take a minute off Dakota’s time and he will no doubt ascend in a faster time than Matt as he would want to make that split to be sure the CR is within his grasp, I don’t think he would do it any other way.

    There a lot of good points about Matt Carpenters focus etc… but its Kilian we are talking about. Do you not think he has done training runs that simulate this course and effort? Sure, maybe he hasn’t done the exact course in training tons of times but again, its Kilian. Has there been a CR he’s focused on and didnt get? Maybe there has been IDK, I haven’t seen it mentioned.

    Definitely will be exciting to see what happens this weekend. Wish I could be there in person.

  8. Scott G

    I’m not sure if Matt lived/ worked at Barr Camp. From the Pikes Peak FAQs on his website, he wrote “However in 1993, the year I set the race records, I did not have easy access to the Peak so I did almost ALL of my Tuesday/Thursday runs on my treadmill.”

  9. Gary Gellin

    Hey Andy, you and I can run ONE FULL HOUR slower than Matt Carpenter and cross the line together for an age group course record! Sounds pretty easy. ;)

  10. CJ

    Here’s an in-depth article from December 2008 on one of the older legends of Pikes Peak, Rick Trujillo. I find it almost prophetic what he said toward the end of the article regarding Carpenter’s records…

    “They’ll be broken by a young guy,” the old runner says. “By a young runner for whom it’s the most natural thing in the world to run up the mountain. Why? Why will he run up the mountains? Because he has an innate natural ability and because that’s what he does. That’s all. It’s just what he does.”

    Kilian would seem to fit that description pretty well but it’s still going to take an unreal effort on his part to get Matt’s record. The forecasted heat may have the last laugh.

    https://www.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/a20798484/mountain-runner-rick-trujillo/

  11. Dave Mackey

    Beg to differ with the statement that Matt [redacted by the editor as this commenter quoted a previous commenter who used phrasing that’s against iRunFar policy]. Matt is very principled and driven and has been an outstanding role model for 1000s in terms of character, generosity, and representative of the sport of mountain running for decades. And if you have to toss that in anyway in an otherwise accurate analysis, what’s your point in that? It only reflects poorly on you, Avon Barksdale, and detracts from the topic at hand.

    1. Bryon Powell

      While it was a bit before my day, I’ve gotten the sense that Matt certainly wasn’t afraid to be contentious. If he believed in something, he’d take action on it and those actions definitely rubbed some folks the wrong way. That said, I just had my first in-person interaction with Matt and he was charming, funny, kind, and quick to deflect praise. He also made a damn-good apple pie custard. I came away liking a guy I’d just met.

      One fun bit relevant to the broader conversation from when Carpenter did relent to a bit of running chatter he mentioned (and a paraphrase) “People seems to forget that I boycotted PPM for a couple years. I wanted top competitors to be able to enter at the last minute. For it to be a race to the finish, not to the entry form. I want fast times. I want competition.”

      1. CLF

        @Bryon – I remember that, and also that he boycotted USATF on the principle that they provided essentially zero support to MUT athletes (but were happy to collect membership fees).

        But come on man, Kilian’s already got enough on his plate with the CR – now you’re suggesting Matt’s custard pies can’t be beat either!

  12. GoKilian

    Totally rooting for Kilian but at best as an armchair consultant, I’m expecting a 3:20-3:25 in the best conditions.

    I personally find it strange that 2 runners (Mejia and Carpenter) managed to get such spectacular times, and never managed to get remotely close to 3:30 ever, and no one in the last 25 years managed to get close to that level despite the increase of density and professionalism in the sport, surely that must indicate that something else played a role in addition to stars being aligned on that day on that course for those 2 runners 25 years ago.

    1. CLF

      For the record:
      *1992 – Matt hit the turnaround at 2:05:05, Ricardo 2:08:05. Then Matt cratered and finished 3:43, but Ricardo smoked the descent too finish 3:24. As it turns out – somebody saved their newspaper clippings (posted on LetsRun) and Carpenter admits having only really trained specifically for it for two weeks that year, was gassed at the summit, then crashed into somebody on the descent resulting in broken ribs/end of racing season.
      *93 – same article, Matt was PO’d and focused his entire year on PPM. Results: 2:01:06 at the summit, 1:15 down, the almighty 3:16 had been set. It was Ricardo’s turn to take the beating – more than 15 min back at the summit.
      *94 – neither raced. In Matt’s case (also noted by Bryon here), he went on a 5 year PPM to protest some of their policies.
      *95 – apparently Ricardo has record hopes, hitting the summit in 2:05 then finishing 3:21, only 5 minutes off record.
      *96 – Ricardo repeats in 3:29, whilst a veritable plowhorse run his first PPM and finishes much better than anticipated (me).

      What’s the point(s):
      *Ricardo notched 3 sub-3:30’s
      *Matt and Ricardo did not set their PR’s in the same year
      *Perhaps Matt could have notched another sub 3:30 as well, but he vacated for 5 years in his prime (he picked up Fila/Skyrunner sponsorship after his ’93 race and jetted around the world running other various races during that time frame, but still purposely held out on PP).

      Does this help answer any of your questions?

      1. CLF

        Not to belabor the point: but it is also notable that when Matt did return from hiatus, he ran the following:
        *2006 – 3:33 (age 42)
        *2008 – 3:36 (44)
        *2009 – 3:37 (45)

        Not too far off, especially age-adjusted

        And in 1997 Ricardo ran 3:30:55.

        In fact what I believe really happened is a proliferation of other events around the world, with bigger cash prizes and marketing, that kind of lessened the perceived prestige of PP for awhile. It’s good to see it back in the spotlight again!

  13. SMB

    It’s gonna be pretty warm in Manitou when KJ finishes at 10:22 A.M. Then we get to start the discussion of how that compares to MC’s CR which was set on a cooler day and a faster course with less runners to pass.

    I hope to plod into the finish before 12:30 when it will be 91 degrees.

    Safe racing everyone, and happy trails.

  14. SageCanaday

    What is interesting to me is that Carpenter’s Pikes Peak Marathon Record is a total outlier performance…even for him it seems!

    I mean he only ran 2:40 at Sierre-Zinal that year (3 weeks or so before the Pikes record). Heck I just ran 2:38 at Sierre-Zinal and got destroyed (Killian’s 2:25 there is pretty ridiculous). But I’ll be happy to run in the 3:30s on Sunday.

    Sub 3:16 in the Pikes course is like Kipchoge saying he’s going for a 1:58 marathon. Its that ridiculous IMHO.

    I don’t think anybody is even touching Matt’s 2:01 Ascent split this weekend. There is $10,000 on the line for cracking 2. I mean maybe Joe can get close in the flat out Ascent race (i thought his 2:05 was really really good already!).

    Last time Kilian only went up in 2:16 at Pikes. This year maybe he can split 2:04 or so I’d guess…He was climbing like an absolute monster on the initial climb at Sierre-Zinal this year. Last time I ran SZ with Kilian I hung with him on the climb to Chandolin and we split 1:11 or so. This year he was there in like 1:06 or something ridiculous. He put like a minute on Petro Mamu. I was surprised they both got the record there by several minutes as Jono Wyatt is/was an amazing climber (again 56-min at Mt WA!)

    My prediction: Killian wins in 3:20s low. That will probably crush the rest of us by 8-10min. Its for sure going to be on the warmer side. I’m going to try not to fall and break a bone this year…

  15. Martin

    I have a feeling that Kilian sees this as the one thing that missing in his amazing resume. And if he doesn’t make it this time, he’ll be back next year :)

  16. Ricardo Silva

    Killian is the Goat of Goat’s!
    I don’t know how Carpenter could do a so fast race and never came close to it again but i know that 3 weeks before he fade after leading Sierre in the uphill and Wyatt was faster than him and now Killian was 39 seconds faster than Wyatt ( Sage: Killian was 2m faster than Mamu at Chandolin 11k!).
    At 19k Killian was behind the record and then in the descent he put 3m and beat the race record.

    The weather,
    to much people on the downill,
    the course being slower than in the past
    or Killian not be completely recovered after Zinal could be the factors to not beat.
    If he can’t nobody right now could do it.

    PPM is a longer race and do not have flat segments like Sierre so is probably even more in reach than Zinal…

  17. Ricardo Silva

    So Killian is better at uphill than Carpenter and he is better at downill than Dakota.
    So why not believe he can do it!?
    2h uphill. Ascent new record
    1h13m downill. Downill new record
    3h13m PPM new course record

  18. GoKilian

    Thanks for the clarification, I was writing it a bit too generic way when I wrote ’25 years ago’ but the period of 92-96 still makes 93 an absolute outlier. Running 3:30 is still 14min away from 3:16, that’s not small change at this distance.

    In 1993, 3 weeks after PPM, Carpenter also set the Imogene Pass record at 2:05, and no one has been close to this since, best time was Mike Smith at 2:09, Dakota Jones last year ran a 2:13, so that makes a good comparison due his last year win at PPM.

    So what was special in 1993 for Carpenter in his training that he was so incredibly good for high altitude events that he never remotely came close close to his PPM and Imogene Pass runs?

    To add to this, in 1993, he ran 3:05 at the sky everest marathon a month after Imogene Pass, in 1994 he did PPA and ran 2:09 (that’s only the ascent) while he ran sky everest in 2:56.

    Those 2 performances of 1993, no matter how you slice it are incredible outliers.

    In theory, at PPA, having a really strong ascent (if you’re not gased) and a weak field behind allows you to have a really clear descent in the very narrow and gnarly sections, so it can be a good time benefit, but hey, I’m never and will never be that person, so what do I know.

    1. CLF

      Incorrect on Imogene pass being an outlier in ’93. Per the website his history there (no losses AFAIK):
      ’88 – 2:13:36
      ’89 – 2:09:41
      ’91 – 2:15:05
      ’93 – 2:05:56
      ’97 – 2:07:32
      ’98 – 2:10:20 (as a side note, I ran it that year – freezing rain, sleet, miserable)

      He also went on a several year hiatus from Imogene as protest in the same manner he vacated PP for a bit.

      I guess I’m just not sure why everyone is so fixated on the ’93 PPM being some unexplainable mysterious outlier:
      ***We all know year to year course conditions/weather can vary wildly in the mountains – far more than traditional road racing.
      ***Matt lived “old school” much like Shorter/Rodgers/Prefontaine did in the early 70’s – shoestring budget, little to no prize money at races, no coaches, almost completely unsponsored until Fila stepped in at the end of ’93. And by that time, he was moving into his 30’s (an age athletes used to retire from serious competition). IF his career had more ups and downs than heavily-sponsored athletes of today, is that surprising? (re: actually no more up/down than Sage, Dakota, and numerous others, but more than Kilian)
      ***Years from now might somebody say the same about Kilian at S-Z? 6 wins (and gasp, a 3rd!!! in 2013) all in the 2:31-2:35 range, then suddenly a 2:25? Should we all fixate on Kilian’s “mysterious” S-Z outlier now too?

      Matt set a CR for the ages – good for him! Good luck to Kilian in his quest to take it down.

      1. SageCanaday

        Coming from a road marathon background (maybe kinda like Matt), I see the PPM record like this (the Ascent split is the “untouchable part”). I know how good Joe Gray is and for him (around one of his very best years when he broke my American record at Mt. WA and won the World Mountain Champs) to only go 2:05:mid (While an amazing time and almost 5-minutes faster than I’ve ever run on the ascent) is still not even close to a 2:01 IMO.

        I mean (this may be a bad comparison but) it would be like if Kipchoge set the Half Marathon World record EN ROUTE to a Full Marathon World Record and sub 2 hr road marathon. That never happens.

        That’s whats so amazing about a 2:01 Ascent split….is that it was done as a HALF Split and followed by a really really good downhill.

        One would imagine that those pure climbers (when they focused on the Ascent only) would have been able to go 1:59 or 1:57 in a flat out race uphill….but it appears Matt was *only* winning the Ascent in 2:05-2:10 most times.

        1. CLF

          Good insights Sage – here’s a few more points to ponder:
          ***On his own bio page, Matt lists his favorite places to run as “the last 3 miles to PP summit” and ” the Rift valley (KEN)” (heck I didn’t even know he had been there)
          ***Several here have noted (and I remember at the time) stories of him routinely running intervals up there.
          ***Joe hit the Barr camp at 1:01 today, roughly the same as Matt’s split in ’93.
          ***Both you and Joe, while great climbers in your own right, are also larger-framed runners than Matt. On top of that, he had a VO2 max of 90.2. It doesn’t seem that much a stretch to postulate a guy with a huge VO2 and small frame would excel above treeline at these altitudes, even in comparison to other very very good (but larger-framed) racers.
          ***I posted these stats below in another comment, but people seem to be overlooking the fact that Matt nailed a 3:33 PPM in 2006 AT AGE 42! What this correlates to on an age-graded basis, I have no idea, but likely sub-3:30? More importantly, to my knowledge, only one person since the 90’s has even beat that result – Dakota last year (via the 90 second better descent, only).

          1. Bryon Powell

            Just yesterday I learned of Matt’s 3-2-1 workout. He’d drive to the top of Pikes, run down 3 miles, run up 3 miles, 2 down, 2 up, 1 down, 1 up. All hard. So basically crushing a workout above 12,000 feet. He said one benefit is he’d get a huge aerobic workout but his legs would come out fine the other side of the workout because he could only go so fast at that height.

  19. CLF

    A poster over on LR just noted this:
    One of the true legends of mountain running, Al Waquie, is also one of the best ever on Pikes Peak, in both the ascent and the round-trip. Twelve years before Matt’s “unbeatable” 3:16:39, Al ran his own “unbeatable” 3:26:17 (with an ascent split of 2:05:46) — about eight minutes faster than Rick Trujillo’s previous record. The next year, Al ran 3:29:53. As I write this, only Matt Carpenter, Ricardo Mejia, and Martin Rodriguez have run faster than either of Al’s two times in the Pikes Peak Marathon. Of course, that could change within the next day.

    He included this link:
    https://www.si.com/vault/1988/02/15/117140/harmony-on-high-al-waquie-a-pueblo-indian-who-finds-spiritual-peace-in-mountain-running-is-a-great-one-for-scaling-heights

    I find it hard to read stories about people like this without a misty eye or two – not running for sponsors, prize money, or social media likes, but only for themselves, their ancestors, and their love of the natural world. The history of the PPM is rich – much richer than even I knew.

  20. Buzz

    Sorry I’m late to the party – discovered this thread while tracking down the Twitter feed – the horses are in the barn but I’ll offer a few thoughts anyway (being passionate about this topic).

    Sage totally called it! “Sub 3:16 in the Pikes course is like Kipchoge saying he’s going for a 1:58 marathon. Its that ridiculous.” He said what I would have: people just don’t grok how fast 3:16 is. This is NOT, “One of the better records in trail running”. This is one of the best endurance records of all time in any sport. The only trail/mountain record it can be compared to is Kilian’s Matterhorn.

    That 3:16 took:
    1) One of the most talented mountain runners in history
    2) Someone with extreme intensity and extreme focus on this one goal
    3) A very special day

    Kilian IMO is the best mountain runner in history. And he is chill compared with Matt back in the day. Matt on Pikes Peak was something else, like Michael Jordan asking for the ball with 10 seconds left in Game 7 – it was special.

    Others in this thread did a great job researching and citing numbers; thank you. However, special events like that 3:16 aren’t a number – they are a feeling – and the only way to understand it is to know that mountain and know Matt Carpenter.

    And lastly: Sage is crushing it! 11th at S-Z is great (people don’t realize how competitive that race is), and 2nd today – good to see a yankee boy going head-head with the Euro’s!

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