March 10, 2009

Skyrunner: At 14,110 feet, the last thing most people would do is run. Not Matt Carpenter, who holds multiple records in high-altitude running, this is where he thrives. His philosophy? "Go out hard; when it hurts, speed up." (Video here) - via NYTimes

posted by BoKnows to other at 10:41 PM - 1 comment

Carpenter is crazy, but in the best possible way. He seems to have picked up a few haters to go with his admirers - I'm not sure why. It may be because he tends to run only in races where he has an advantage (altitude and steep grades) and expects to win. If so, it's ridiculous - every runner has a specialty.

There was a great article in Runner's World recently about Rick Trujillo, another mountain runner, called Twilight of the Mountain Goat. If you liked the NY Times article, you'll probably like this one. Trujillo is the anti-Matt Carpenter:

Trujillo is not the fastest mountain runner. Matt Carpenter, a 44-year-old from Manitou Springs, Colorado, probably holds that distinction. Trujillo is not as widely known in the running community as Carpenter or Horton or 41-year-old Karl Meltzer, who has won 48 ultramarathons, 23 at 100 miles or more, and who tried to set a speed record on the Appalachian Trail last summer (he failed). And there are certainly other mountain runners--many of them impoverished Mexicans whose names have never been published in a running magazine-who have doubtlessly logged greater distances, at swifter speeds. Trujillo is not the friendliest person to have ever jogged into an alpine forest, nor the most decorated. And all his records have been broken.

Meltzer and Carpenter, both professional runners, have Web sites and corporate sponsors. Carpenter possesses, according to his Web site, a resting pulse of 33 and a VO2 max of 90.2, "the highest recorded by a runner." Trujillo is a junk-food junkie and a grouch who thinks the idea of an athlete racing for something like recognition is contemptible. He has no idea what his resting pulse is. Meltzer, Carpenter, and Horton are celebrities whose exploits and training regimens are studied and emulated. Among a certain type of mountain runner, though-the older runner, the runner with an appreciation for pain and its transformative power, the runner who doesn't care for corporate sponsors and Web sites, the runner who remembers when mountain running was simply a matter of going higher, and harder, and faster than anyone else...among those runners, the most intense feelings are reserved for a 60-year-old bachelor who doesn't like to bother himself with little details like time and distance. Among that community of runners-the hardest core of an unapologetically hardcore sport-it is Trujillo who inspires reverence.

I went to Carpenter's website before running my first marathon three weeks ago and saw the "go out hard.." line. The advice is great for highly-trained athletes like him, but really, really bad for competitive amateurs like me. I still like the essence: "be tough."

Favorite excerpt:

In high school, a class schedule conflict deposited him on the cross-country team.

"I actually thought we were going to run across the country," Carpenter said. "I thought we'd get out of school a lot."

posted by dusted at 01:27 PM on March 11, 2009

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