If hiking the Manitou Incline is an acquired taste, Roger Austin has come to appreciate its unique flavor. Years ago, on his first attempt, Austin never stepped foot on the top railroad tie.
"I did a loop running around the Air Force Academy, and this person was doing the same thing. They told me about the Incline, and I thought it was pretty cool," Austin recalled. "That day I got up halfway and got to the 'bail trail' and had enough. I had already run 13 miles before that."
Austin kept coming back and has been a regular for about seven years. In 2013, he decided to see how many ascents he could log in one year.
"The goal was 500," Austin said, knowing that Greg Cummings held the unofficial record of 601 ascents in a year. "I kept doing the Incline and kept getting closer."
In a show of good sportsmanship, Cummings and Austin ascended together as Austin broke the mark. That day, Cummings asked Austin how many more ascents he could log by the end of the year. Austin found inspiration for that question on Facebook.
"My friend Samantha Butler posted her time and said, 'This is how we do it in the 719,' and I thought it (719) was possible," Austin said. "I took a few days off at the beginning of the month, and I gave it a shot."
On Tuesday, Austin logged his 719th ascent.