Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Horsetooth Rock FKT Attempt

Horsetooth Rock

I run at Horsetooth Mountain Park on pretty much a daily basis, yet I have never timed myself from bottom to top and back, probably because it is just too stressful to do for no decent reason. The catalyst for my speed attempt was a chat last week with Joe, who mans the booth at the upper parking lot. We chat on a regular basis and the other day as I was ambling into the parking lot he called me over and asked if I'd ever timed myself to the top of the rock. I told him no, to which he responded that some guy had asked him the other day what the record was and if his time might be the record. I asked him what that time was, and after learning that it was 46 minutes and change (up only) I told him that people have probably hiked it faster, and that I was confident that I could round trip it in less time.

Although he didn't know the precise route this other guy had taken, I decided that the logical route to take (although by no means the fastest) would be straight up the Horsetooth Rock trail, from the map at the upper parking lot hiking trailhead (by the restrooms), staying on the hiking-only trails to the highest point on the Rock, which is approximately 2.5 miles and 1,500 feet of climbing, with a short stint of class III scrambling up the Rock. This route is mostly rocky, rooty singletrack, with a short stretch of service drive, some stair climbs and some rock running at the base of the Rock. A quicker route would be up the Soderburg and Southridge service drives and around the back via Audra Culver.

One of the stair climbs

So anyway, I set off from the trailhead and hit the Soderburg bench in 4:55, the Rock singletrack in 8:00, the "two-mile point" in 19:45 and the summit via the north side of the Rock in 26:17. I turned straight around and headed back down retracing my steps in 17:36 for a round trip of 43:54.

After consulting Jonathan Vigh's Fort Collins FKT site, it looks like my time is an 'open' fastest known time (FKT) for the longer north side. It seems the standard FKT route is the faster service drive/Audra Culver route, for which the official FKT was 27:05 up, 17:32 down and 44:37 round trip (Matt Bedoukian). With an 'unofficial' shortcut, the ascent record was 26:58 (Matt Bedoukian). Jonathan Vigh still holds the open drop record with a 15:36 descent - 2 minutes quicker than my drop. Jonathan also holds the Horsetooth South records: 43:36 (rt), 15:23 (down).

If you've done it faster or know of somebody who has, then let me know. Until then, I'll put my ascent of 26:17 and round trip of 43:54 out there as Horsetooth Rock FKTs. Now, go beat them!

At the summit earlier in the summer


  1. Hi Nick -

    It turns out I ran this last Friday evening as the sun was setting in my typical slow lumbering all out pace for an ascent of 36:05. Now, this is particularly unremarkable, except that the ratio of my time to yours for this climb, Towers, and Round mountain have all been 1.37 - 1.38, confirming my slowness with excellent accuracy.

    In October I am likely going to bump myself from the Blue Sky half to the full marathon, and I want to break 5 hours. That means you need to run 3:37-3:39 (CR) to make this work for me. Please don't let me down, as I am counting on you. Faster is even better.

    Thanks for the enjoyable and inspirational blog. Congrats on an excellent season and all the best in Dublin.

    I'll be sure to introduce myself if you pass me on the trails.

  2. I realized the CR for BSM is 3:23 ish, not the 3:40 I thought. That is good news, as it means you will run even faster and I am now virtually assured of breaking 5 hours - in fact, it is not even clear I need to run the race at this point.

    my time = 1.38*Nick's time. This running thing is getting easy.

  3. Travis - Nice work on the Horsetooth climb. Pushing up it hard is no joke - it's steep, rocky and generally nasty.

    On Blue Sky, my guess is that you'll break 5 hours. I was beaten by Johannes Rudolph, last year's winner, by 40 seconds at Pikes a few weeks back, which tells me that I should be close to the 3:23 course record in October. That said, Pikes plays more to my strengths than the faster Blue Sky, which I think plays more to Johannes strengths as a road marathoner. Either way, I'm in much better shape than my 3:47 from last year, and I'm pretty confident that I can run faster than the 3:37 that extrapolates to your 5 hour goal.

    Best of luck with your training, and if you ever fancy a run up at Horsetooth, shoot me an email. I'm there running most weekdays between noon and 2.

  4. This is the purest kind of running, to me. A bunch of people running because it's fun, picking an arbitrary course as an excuse, and then using the honor system to report times. An on-going race with no specific day of the year, and purely sportsmanlike rivalry.

    Great season this year, Nick. Missed you at Leadville.

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