Friday, August 18, 2006

Pikes Peak n the Mind of Matt

Matt Carpenter, who holds the record for the Pikes Peak Ascent, and the Pikes Peak Marathon, and the combination of the two, and (let's face it) most other steep trail runs in the country, didn't master Barr Trail just because he is fast. He also studied every detail of the trail like a samurai studying a foe.

Fortunately, the rest of us can learn from his hard work. It's the running equivalent of copying the smart kid's homework, but since you still have to get your butt up the trail, it's not really cheating.

He has memorized every inch of the trail, and written a description, with dozens of photos, on the web. Use these and you won't have any surprises, even if you just arrived from Arkansas.

He has planned out how he will go around individual rocks on the way up and on the way down.

He has studied how running up a mountain is different from running a flat marathon. The main distinction: mile times are meaningless because the trail is increasingly steep, and the air is increasingly thin. Instead, he has used reams of past race data to create a pace calculator that will tell you if you are on pace for a goal time, based on passing natural features along the trail. It will work whether you're running it in just over two hours, as he probably will, or just over five.

Other special running advice he's come up with, that he posted on the Pikes Peak Central Web site:
* On long, steady hills, switching often between walking and running is tempting, but it makes you lose momentum and cadence. Pick one or the other and go with it.
* When going downhill, be like a hurdler. Step over, not on rocks and other obstacles. Keep your body level and lift your legs.

And for those who follow his advice well enough to make it up there, he has realized you can arrange to wave hi to people from the summit through the summit Web cam. Just pick a time when they can view you, and stand near the tower south/southwest of the gift shop. The best place to stand is in the northwest quadrant, on the closed access road.

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