The Incline

Adventures4 Comments


Manitou Springs is just outside Colorado Springs. It sits at the foot of Pikes Peak. It is where the Pike Peak Marathon starts and finished. I ran that bad boy in 2008 and have mixed emotions about that day. I want to return some year to avenge the mountain due to the weather that beat us down that day.

So when you think of Manitou running — first its Pikes. Then its The Incline! And I had never been. One of those Colorado running bucket list type deals. If you live in the area, you do it all the time. If not, it is worth the drive. So after the big feast at King Chef, we drove back to Brownie’s place and suited up for a trip up the Incline. Probably not the smartest idea after running a race and pigging out but what the hell. It was the warmest day in a week around these parts with temps maybe in the 40s as we headed out. Matt, a friend of Brownie’s who also did the 5k with us, joined up. Brownie lives right in the middle of Manitou so it was cool to be able to just head up from his place on foot. I envy that. I have to drive to hills. These are right out the back door. Nice.

Manitou Springs

Brownie wasn’t so hot on flying up the Incline today. He declared from the start that he was taking it easy. I wasn’t going to try and shatter any records out there today but I wanted to break a sweat and get the true feel of the thing. Of course, this is a restricted area so “we were not really there” as you can see. One of those deals where they can’t work out the liability so they just say “stay out” and don’t enforce. Probably 20+ people out there today with us.

Manitou Springs

There is a full-on super train you can ride to the top of Pikes Peak just next door. Done that before. However, this was the pre-cursor to that so to speak. Back in the early 1900s this was a railway that went from the start of the Incline to the end — meaning that was it. 1 mile of train track straight up the hill. Took all the fancy people up to a house up there where they probably had tea and looked at the view. At some point, they killed it then removed the rails and left the railroad ties or cogs in place. Somebody decided “let’s run up that” and the Incline was born.

Manitou Springs

Although I have heard the legend that Tony and Carpenter run every step up this, mere mortals take it at a snail’s pace. I gave a few bursts of runs but it gets old quick. Not a single flat part to take it down — just steps the whole way. Here is the Google Earth shot of it. You can see the Incline’s path colored brown from the satellite photo just around my red track line.


Sanitas has given me decent practice but clearly not enough. Here we are ascending 2,000+ feet in 0.90 miles (GPS). Sanitas is only 1,200 feet but over 1.2 miles. And not steps the entire time!

Manitou Springs

Brownie had given us each a can of PBR for the summit. I cracked it opened on arrival but it was iced over. I had not properly dethawed it on the way up. Brownie arrived a bit later clearly taking it easy. Not feeling well? King Chef? So much for licking that plate clean. How’s it feel now? Here he is on the final steps. Even though it is a still picture, it looks like a drunk sort of walk, huh?

Manitou Springs

We chatted with folks on the summit and then took a side trail over to the Barr Trail for the decent. My gut immediately went into a knot. My burger was telling me about how it didn’t like what was going on. I just pushed on the pain with my hand and descended nice and slowly. As we got into the W’s, I remembered the trail from the 2008 race. Every turn. I remembered hurting but feeling so excited that the marathon was about over. It was good to be back on that trail again. That took my mind off the food cramp. During that, Brownie had fallen back. Once we stopped and he caught up, we found out that he donated his King Chef burger to the mountain — in two places.

Manitou Springs

Ah! As we came through Manitou, we stopped at bar for the celebration with PBR. Kind of weird for me. I usually just run and then go home. Nothing on the way. Having a bar on the way home in between you and the mountains is rather convenient I must say. Pounded those carbs down in no time for a nice refreshing conclusion. But of course, I felt obligated to carry my Flip today so I could share the Incline with you! Enjoy.

So that was it for my Manitou adventure. I surely will be back. Thanks, Brownie, for giving me the tour today. I need to return to see more of the 500 miles of trail that make up your backyard. You are the Mayor of Manitou.

We went 4.86 miles with an elevation gain of 2,317 feet in 01:23:01, which is an average pace of 17:05. View my GPS data.