Matt Novakovich who was the first to the top of the brutal Mount Marathon race this year in Seward, Alaska, came up short in his bid to beat Matt Carpenter's best time of 18 minutes, 31 seconds, on the Manitou Incline, an abandoned mile-long railway bed that ascends 2,000 feet at the base of Pikes Peak.
One of the the top men in the 2014 Spartan race series, the Beetelite-sponsored Novakovich, 40, lined up at the base of the Incline at 7 p.m on Friday, July 26. The heat of the day had given way to cooler temps as he charged up the first section of railroad ties.
After the halfway point, he said the Incline's tough 45 percent-plus grade began to tax his energy and any chances at a record slipped away.
He still finished in 20 minutes, 13 seconds, one of the best times recorded on the Incline in years, and made more impressive by the rugged condition of the trail, which has been damaged by heavy rains.
Novakovich, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska, beat Ricky Gates and Eric Strabel to the top of 3,022-foot Mount Marathon this year in the famous up-and-down race. He eventually finished third, covering the 3 1/2-mile course in 45 minutes, 46 seconds.
There have been faster times recorded on the Incline. Pro triathlete Mark Fretta claimed a 16:42, but received a four-year sanction in 2012 - after he had retired - for suspected use of performance enhancing drugs. Fretta contests that his Incline record, set in 2006, should still stand since he never tested positive.
And Olympic short track speed skating gold medalist Apolo Ohno has recorded a 17:45, but it's uncertain where he started his climb and he may have traveled a shorter distance than others.