Local Hero Print
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 24 February 2009 06:58
The New York Times (to my surprise) did a very nice article and video this morning on a local running hero:  Matt Carpenter.  Be sure and watch the video.
Practically the first thing I heard about Matt was that he always won the Pikes Peak Marathon: 13 miles up, 13 miles down.
Local runners regard him as a freak of nature, which science has shown him to be:
"In part, Carpenter has owed his prowess to his physiology. His resting heart rate has been measured at 33 beats a minute, lower than those of Michael Phelps and many astronauts. In a test at the United States Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, Carpenter’s VO2 max, a gauge of the body’s ability to process oxygen, registered at 90.2, perhaps a record high for a runner. (Only Bjorn Daehlie, a Norwegian cross-country skier, has scored higher. Lance Armstrong recorded an 81.)"

Matt won the Leadville 100, the "Race Across the Sky" and beat the course record by 93 minutes. He ran 100 miles between 9,600 and 12, 200 feet high in less than 14 hours.

We know members of Matt's infamous Incline Club (the name is taken from a nearly vertical slash above Manitou Springs where a cog rail line used to run).  Including a woman who placed second in the Pike's Peak Marathon and goes to my parish.  The club motto: Go out hard; when it hurts, speed up.” Nothing like running up Pike's Peak in January to get the  ol' blood flowing.

For most bloggers, especially Catholic bloggers, from the low-lands, this sort of stuff usually sounds like pure masochistic voo-doo.  If not bordering on mortal sin.  If we were athletes, we'd wouldn't be spending our time in front of a computer screen.  Or buried in books or in movies.  When was the last time you read something about ultra-marathons around St. Blogs?    Food?  Yes.  Drink?  Yep.  All too often cigars.  But hardly ever physical activity - unless it is someone else's activity - like watching professional football.

I'm still no athlete, but after 7 years in Colorado, I now serenely regard the sort of high level amateur sport that I once regarded as impossible or absurd as normal.    Men and women in their 70's routinely ski, run marathons, climb mountains, snow-shoe around here.   You watch that and find yourself thinking:  "Maybe I, fourth generation couch potato that I am, could do that too."

Time to get going.   Need to clean off my snow-shoes before I head to the gym . . .