Professional runner Joseph Gray seems determined to constantly improve his records — even if it’s only by a few seconds.
On July 20, Joseph Gray ran 4.68 miles and 3,980 feet of elevation gain to the top of Mount Elbert. He logged a time of 1 hour, 4 minutes, 51 seconds, beating his previous record by just 2 seconds.
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FastestKnownTime has credited Gray with the fastest times on Huron Peak (1 hour, 13 minutes, 24 seconds), Mount Shavano (1 hour, 5 minutes, 55 seconds), and Mount Antero (1 hour, 23 minutes, 10 seconds).
Gray also holds the record on the popular linkup of Lincoln, Democrat, and Bross (1 hour, 25 minutes, 2 seconds).
Still Gaining Momentum
Gray set his previous record on Mount Elbert last year when he established new time records on many Colorado 14ers. He has spent years winning competitions, including 21 national titles and 11 XTERRA Trail Running World Championships. But it’s only now that he may finally be receiving broader recognition.
He became the USA Mountain Runner of the Year for the 11th time in 2021 — and mainstream media paid attention. In a New York Times profile this year, the paper called Gray “the most decorated American mountain runner, by a wide margin.”
Yet Gray has been slow to receive broader recognition over the years. Just last year, the host of the Fastest Known Time Podcast called Gray “the best mountain runner ever, and you’ve never heard of him.”
Gray attributes the lack of attention to racial disparity. He discussed it on Instagram shortly after The New York Times published its story in May. In the post, he expressed gratitude for the opportunity to talk about diversity in outdoor sports to a national audience.
“When I began sharing my thoughts and facts regarding the lack of diversity and its root in trail/outdoor sports I undoubtedly knew that I would have to deal with negative and at times, racist direct messages,” Gray wrote.
“Thankfully, I’m not in this for the clout so the negativity doesn’t come close to taking me off my path. My passion is competing and inspiring that next generation so, if they wish to waste their time with negativity, so be it. The journey continues and I will continue putting in the work both on and off the mountain.”