January 10, 2001
Dear Mr. Carpenter,
We are first graders in Mrs. Goodrow's class and we are studying the 7
continents this year. We need to learn their names and locations. We
will be tested on them in May. We already know all about Australia, because
we studied about the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Mr. Burfoot wrote us letters
to answer our questions when he was in Australia covering the Olympics for Runner's World.
We have visited your Web site and think it is pretty cool.
Mrs. Goodrow told us that you are a mountain runner and that you have run in
other continents. She told us that you probably haven't run in Antarctica
and she didn't know if people ran on mountains in Antarctica.
We have some questions for you. We hope that you will answer them.
We would like to publish this interview on KidsRunning.Com.Sincerely,
Mrs. Goodrow's First Grade Class
First before I get to your questions let me say I am really excited about
www.kidsrunning.com that your teacher has put together. Bottom line, kids
(you) are the future of our sport. Many of the "problems" with distance
running in the USA are the direct result of our athletes not being supported
in the way that they need to be in order to be competitive at a world level.
While the love of running is being nurtured in you at a young age, it will be
important for you to remember that the very thing that helped nurture that
love is a supportive person such as your teacher. Some of you may grow up to
be tomorrow's greatest runners and I hope that happens. But no matter what
level of runner you end up, think back on your days in Carol's class and
then ask yourself if you are giving back to the sport in a way that might
help it grow. Supporting running is just as important as running!
Warming Up by Bintou
Kids: What are the highest mountains you have run on in each continent?Matt:
Right here in my back yard of Colorado (North America) there are 54
mountains that go over 14,000 feet. I have been on several of them. Mt
Elbert is the highest in Colorado at 14,433' and therefore the highest point
I have run in the United States. Here is a neat place to go to see what it
looks like from on top of Colorado.
Someday I hope to do Mt Whitney in California because that is the only place
in the lower 48 that is higher than Mt Elbert. Although at 14,494' it is
only 61' higher. But you are studying continents, not states, so onward (and
upward) we go...
Moving Up by Ashley
In Italy (Europe) the highest I ran was up 15,203' Monte Rosa. Because of
safety reasons we only went to the 14,947' sub-peak of Signalkuppe. On top
of this peak there is a hut called Margherita. I am told it is very neat but
I did not see it because I was so scared that I was always looking down at my
feet. When going back down the mountain during the race we slid down a snow
couloir on our pants and went so fast that the nylon on our behinds melted!
Ready to Climb by Connor
While in Kenya (Africa) I ran up 17,058' Mt Kenya. Again, because of safety
reasons, we ran to a sub-peak called Point Lenana at 16,355' which is about
as high as you can go without having to do technical climbing. However, even
on Point Lenana they had safety ropes put out for us to hold onto in case
we slipped in the snow. Something that was really neat about this area is
that it is right on the equator which meant that water can go down a drain
without spinning like it does here. Since you got a report already from
Australia they may have told you that the water goes down the drain the
opposite way as it does here in the United states.
Aw, C'mon Up by Autumn
In Nepal and Tibet (Asia) I did not run to the top of any mountains because
they are all so high. However while there I ran a flat marathon at 17,060'
which took me 3h22m25. This was really hard because we spent so much time
that high that most of the run my fingertips and lips were blue from the
lack of oxygen. Well, to be accurate, it is not the lack of oxygen so much as
the lowered pressure that makes the air thinner. There is still about 21%
oxygen and 78% nitrogen but the number of those molecules is about half as
many as you get when you are at sea level. I also have done several flat
marathons at 14,350' in Tibet. The Association of International Marathons
(AIMS) came and measured our course to make it official so the time could be
considered a world record for running a marathon in altitude. Here is a
story about that: Matt's World Record.
Zoom...the Sky by Kristin
A really neat mountain I did in Mexico (Another North America but not the
United States;-) was actually a volcano! We ran to the top of the 17,343'
foot volcano Iztacihuatl and to date this is still the highest mountain I
have run up anywhere in the world. This volcano has been inactive for a very
long time. But just about 15 miles away lies 17,887' PopocatÚpetl. When I
was there in 1997 they had warning sings all over the place because of the
smoke coming out.
You can see the smoke in the picture of me running on
Iztacihuatl at the top of this page. They said that Popo could erupt at any time. Sure enough just a
few weeks ago Popo blew her top -- see the other photo. It feels strange to
see pictures of Popo with red lava coming out of it and exploding like that
because I was there.
The highest I have ever run is at an elevation of 17,585' which was not even
up a mountain but just getting to Everest Base Camp (Asia again). I got to
have tea with some Korean climbers who were getting ready to try to climb up
29,028' Everest -- the highest mountain in the world. Someday I might climb
Mt Everest but it is way too high to do any running. I have a couple of
pictures and a story about the run to Base Camp here:
Mt. Everest Base Camp Run.
Kids: Do you run up the mountains or do you run down the mountains or both?
Matt: Most of the races I do are up and down races. There are a few smaller races
where you can run up and ride a gondola or take a car down but for the most
part if I run up them I like to run down them. Besides there are no cars or
gondolas off of the biggest mountains!!!
Kids:. Do you take any special gear with you? We thought that you might need to
take some rope or special shoes and some food and water.
Matt: Because most of the time I am in the middle of a race all the food and water
we need is provided for us. Believe it or not regular running shoes work for
all the races I have done. You can see I have on running shoes in the snow
in the picture of me on the volcano. I always have a jacket with me even on
days that it is very nice out because in the mountain the weather can change
very fast. Here in Colorado we have a saying, "If you don't like the
weather, wait 5 minutes."
Kids: Do you ever ride your bike on a mountain?
Kids can run anywhere! Many times it is the grownups who are afraid to do
things or try things. Kids don't have those fears (unless they spend too
much time around the scared adults). I know of many adults who can't climb on
the jungle gym in a playground but kids think nothing of it! Running down a
mountain is fun for a kid and that is why if you start young you can get
really good at it. The most important thing to remember as you grow up is
just to keep it fun:-)
I have only ridden my Mt Bike on one mountain, 14,110' Pikes Peak. The top 3
miles are very rocky even on the trail so that took a while and I fell a
couple of times. But after that it was a lot of fun until my hands started
getting tired from all of the braking I had to do. After that ride I had to
put on new brake pads!
Kids: Can kids run on mountains?