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Joseph Gray nears the finish at the summit of Pikes Peak during the Pikes Peak Ascent on Aug. 21, 2021. The New York Times has called the Colorado Springs runner “the most decorated American mountain runner, by a wide margin.”

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A Colorado Springs runner has claimed record speed up the state's highest mountain.

The de facto gatekeeper of such outdoor records, fastestknowntime.com, has entered Joseph Gray's time of one hour, four minutes and 51 seconds as unmatched from the Halfmoon trailhead to the top of Mount Elbert above 14,400 feet. Gray logged the ascent covering 4.68 miles and 3,980 feet of elevation — a task that typically takes the average hiker a full morning.

The time from July improved Gray's previous record by two seconds, set last summer amid a string of unparalleled pushes across the fourteeners.

Fastest Known Time also credits the world-champion athlete with top marks on Huron Peak (one hour, 13 minutes, 24 seconds), Mount Shavano (1:5:55), Mount Antero (1:23:10) and on the popular route tagging mounts Lincoln, Democrat and Bross (1:25:2).

Back in Colorado Springs, Gray is known as a perennial winner at the Pikes Peak Ascent; he notched his fourth title last year, and his best time (2:5:28) is second only to legendary Matt Carpenter. Gray's record up the brutal, iconic Manitou Incline — gaining more than 2,000 feet in less than a mile — remains untouched from 2015 (17 minutes, 45 seconds).

Gray's illustrious career spans far beyond his home region. No one has won the XTERRA Trail Running World Championships six times as he has, to go with 21 national titles. Last year, for an 11th time, he was named USA Mountain Runner of the Year.

The New York Times this summer called him "the most decorated American mountain runner, by a wide margin." And yet, the host of the Fastest Known Time Podcast last year asked: "The best mountain runner ever, and you've never heard of him?"

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To the question, Gray — who was traveling internationally at the time of this write-up — spoke to being a Black athlete in a predominantly white sport over his past decade of dominance. "White athletes were the ones being advertised, getting sponsorships," he said. "I was a black sheep, quite literally."

He spoke on the issue with The Gazette in 2020. “You have to be great before you’re going to get the same opportunities in this sport," he said then. "I hate to say that. It’s an ugly truth."

On the podcast, he added: "I'm also not someone who focuses a ton on a lot of different social platforms."

His latest record on Elbert was quietly cracked, for example.

"I'm more so coming from that world where competing is at the forefront," Gray said. "That's the best way to inspire the next generation that I'm trying to inspire."

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