Female Unsupported Fastest Known Time
Time: 1 hour, 21 minutes, 35 seconds
We drove to Red Rocks outside of Las Vegas, the third day of our runcation in the Southwest. Turtlehead Peak was the first and shortest of three Fastest Known Time routes that Luke Garten and I planned to attempt. We looked at the Strava maps of a couple other people who had run it and they had each followed different lines. “So just commit to a route once you’re on it, huh?” I said after studying the map.
“Yeah, pretty much,” Luke agreed. I left first while Luke did warm-up strides to give me a head start. I made it a quarter mile and realized I was already off course. I ran back to the trail head, didn’t see Luke, and started over again.
I started climbing and hit another dead end, but I hadn’t wasted too much time so I backtracked to the trail and continued on. The trail meandered through yucca and a variety of cactus. I opted to stay left when the trail split. It was rocky and I started using my hands to assist in scrambling up rocks as it got steeper. I reached up and stabbed my palm with a yucca leaf and noticed drops of red blood on the white rocks.
When I reached a 15-foot-high rock outcropping made of slab-like layers of carbonate limestone, the words that I had said earlier echoed in my head: commit to a route once you’re on it. I looked behind me. I’d lose valuable time by backtracking and there was no guarantee that I would find an easier route, so I continued climbing. A few feet from the top of the formation, I searched for handholds, not finding any obvious options. My hands trembled as I felt around on the crumbly rock. After I found a handhold and pulled myself up to solid ground, I let out a sigh of relief. “Holy shit!” I exclaimed aloud. “Woo!” I yelled, smiling. I continued up a more runnable, albeit steep trail that rose up over a thousand feet in the last mile to the summit. There were a few guys resting at the summit. I quickly snapped a selfie then started running down. “Did you run all the way up?” one of them yelled after me, impressed.
“Yup!” I yelled back. I wanted to run faster on the way down, but the trail was slick from the loose dirt on the rocks. I found a much easier route on the way back though. Then I heard Luke behind me. I jumped to the side and he barreled past me running at a recklessly fast pace. The trail leveled out into a slight downhill pitch, perfect for letting gravity take over, so I followed suit and let my legs open up and hammered the last mile.
Back at the car, we celebrated our successes with Guinness and salty snacks. It turned out that Luke, who also got the male FKT that day, had a similar false start. We found a place to camp amongst Joshua trees on public land outside of St. George and ate dinner next to a campfire. I saw a shooting star and things felt right in the world.
Check out my Strava activity here.
Check out the Turtle Peak Fastest Known Time leader board as well as other FKT routes here.