A Lung in Men’s Clothing

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Outside magazine, January 1996

A Lung in Men’s Clothing
By Todd Balf and Paul Kvinta (with Brooke DeNisco, Martin Forstenzer, and Eileen Hansen)

Matt Carpenter pitched his usual psych job at his mountain-running rivals before last October’s Everest Skymarathon–he wears an air filter that renders him a dead ringer for a praying mantis–but he needn’t have bothered. The two-time defending champion already had his opponents shaking in their sneakers when he scored off the charts in a battery of physiological tests
administered at a high-altitude research center in Nepal. “I knew I adapted quickly to altitude,” says Carpenter, who once held the U.S. Olympic Training Center record for VO2 max, a measure of the body’s ability to process oxygen. “But I didn’t know I adapted that quickly.” Not surprisingly, the Coloradan easily completed his Everest
threepeat, finishing the marathon–at an average of 17,000 feet, the world’s highest–ten minutes ahead of fellow American Robb Reece in 3:22.

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