by Seth Boster, Colorado Springs Gazette
An underground universe in Colorado Springs erupted this summer, triggered by a verbal claim.
The assertion was made by a mixed-martial arts fighter who told The Gazette she had scaled the Manitou Incline in 19 minutes, 27 seconds. That would be the fastest known time for a woman on the 1-mile spine of railroad ties that includes more than 2,000 feet of elevation gain. That would be the fastest known time – if it were accepted by the keepers of the FKT.
They are the outdoor athletes who obsess over the obscure: milestones on trails and mountains, and the completion of those in record haste. Theirs is a tribe that values honesty over all. And, in August, when the fighter made the Incline claim, they balked. They will tell you that the FKT is 20:07 and belongs to Allie McLaughlin, the Air Academy High School graduate with Pikes Peak Ascent and World Mountain Running championships to her name.
“It’s crazy to me that this is like a big deal or whatever,” says the fighter, Raquel Pennington, a Harrison High School graduate who has risen to elite ranks in the UFC.
Two years ago, at the time when she says she clocked herself in less than 20 minutes, Pennington was scaling the Incline three to four times a week, sometimes carrying a training partner on her back for intervals. “After doing that for a while and then going straight up the mountain not carrying anything, that makes it easy,” she says.
Many contend they’ll believe her when they see it.
Asked if she’d climb publicly, Pennington chuckles. “I don’t really care whether they believe me or not,” she says. “I have nothing to prove to people.”