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August: Inclined


Trail Doc of the Month // August 2019 // 13 minutes // Youtube, free

Welcome to TheStringbean’s Trail Doc of the Month winner for August, Inclined.

The Incline is a .88 mile hiking trail in Manitoub, CO that gains 2,011ft up an railroad bed. Inclined captures the difficulty, the history and the community that surrounds this quirky trail and the challenge it poses. My favorite part about this Wandering Fever production is that the documentary represents all trail runners: athletes of all abilities and of any background exploring and finding community in the greater world around them.

The Incline

I have never ran on The Incline. My best guess is that you haven’t either. Let’s take a second to visualize (or perhaps empathize) with the 500,000 individual climbs and descents taken on The Incline each year.

As mentioned earlier, the trail is .88 miles long with 2,011ft of elevation, built out of an old railroad bed. The average grade is 45%, with the steepest grade being at 68%.

Oh my, that is nasty.

From the Boston marathon, many of my road runner friends recount war stories of Heartbreak Hill. I agree with them, Heartbreak is challenging. I run many of my hill workouts in Boston on Heartbreak. That being said, the 91 ft elevation gain over .37 miles is humbling in comparison. Even many of the biggest mountain races are feeble comparison to The Incline. The Mt. Washington Road race climbs 4,650 ft over 7.6 miles. The sustained average steepness of The Incline is twice as steep as the Mt. Washington race at its steepest point.


You’re almost there!

Trail Running Community

Now that we have had a chance to bask in the glory of The Incline, let’s look at why this documentary is the top dog this month.

While only a 13 minute documentary, Inclined beautifully captures the trail running community. While trail running allows you to explore the outdoors and adventure, many runners will say that the community is the reason they keep running trail races or ultras.

In the documentary, video footage captures the stories and perspectives of hard core athletes, like the Incline Friends club or elite runners like Joe Gray and Stian Angermund-Vik. You will notice the documentary also features exercise enthusiasts like Jordan Caimbrone, the Mayor of Manitou, and recent retiree, Clovis Johnson. Everyone has their own perspective and story with the trail. Some people enjoy the exercise, some find it spiritual, and some hike the trail simply because it is a thing to do. The Incline is accessible for many members in the community, not just a selective few.

I’m inspired that a trail creates such a vibrant and widespread community. What had once been a decrepit tourist attraction turned into bedrock of community identity.

Watch for free on YouTube

Stringbean’s Hot Take

Typically, movies and documentaries focus on the elite few who have proven themselves on the world stage. Every week, someone seems to be breaking a new record or pinnacle achievement. You might find yourself wondering ‘Why even bother trying to keep up?’ Heck, you might only be reading this post because I ran the Appalachian Trail.

While running the Appalachian Trail was pretty ‘cool,’ and I loved my time out there, millions of people hike different sections of the AT each year. My voice isn’t the only one you should listen to. In my opinion, my experiences are ultimately no more worthy than a hiker who completed their first multi-day backpacking trip, or a child seeing their first white blaze.

What number would work [to run in a year]? 1719 is our Colorado Spring long distance area code, that just became the goal… My 1719 is probably no more important to the person who set a goal a did one.

Roger Austin – World Record Holder of the most vertical feet of elevation in a year

Austin’s quote resonates with me, and I hope that you feel it as well. While videos and documentaries celebrate the victory and achievements of only a few, millions of other individuals are going through their own journeys. While you may never run The Incline 1719 times in a year, and while you may never set a world record, your story is your own, and you should always strive to do what you find incredible.

So, that means I have a few questions for you. Comment below:

  • What is your Incline? Is there a local challenge near you that reminds your of The Incline?
  • Why do you run? Are you in it for fitness, for the community, for the adventure

For past TheStringbean’s Trail Doc of the Month, click here.

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