The 14er Speed Record: Where Youth and Experience Converge

For 9 years the 14er speed record has stood untouched. It’s surprising considering the explosion in popularity of the FKT (Fastest Known Times) website that tracks these sort of records. The competition has grown so tough that any athlete lucky enough to set a time on a worthy route is lucky to stand at the top for even a short amount of time.

The 14er speed record has meant so much to me personally. I first gave it a shot in 1999 when I was 24. Looking back at myself I can’t believe that kid who literally knew nothing was able to complete it on raw determination. It really changed my life as it gave me a sense of confidence in my ability to persist through tough challenges. Then back in 2014 and 2015 when I failed and then finally succeeded in dramatic fashion despite landslides, and 8 days of storms. I tapped into that persistence and determination that I discovered in my youth, but as a much more experienced version of that younger self. I think what I remember most about that experience was just the sheer amount of excitement it generated in the 14er community, and how my family and friends rallied around me to help me succeed.

A Flurry of Record Attempts in 2023

After many years…last year two young athletes gave the record a shot. The first two since Eric Lee tried several years ago. Their vigor, dedication, and innovative approaches to training and execution were commendable and inspirational.


The first attempt was by 29 year old Chris Fisher. At 29 Chris still has the strength of youth but is probably just nearing his prime decade of endurance abilities. Chris was coming off a successful winter where he climbed the 14ers in a single winter season, beating the time I set back in 2018. He endeavored to set both the winter record and summer record in one year. As a sponsored athlete he can devote is entire life to traveling around and just trying to set FKT’s. His attempt on is here:

Chris set a blistering pace, rivaling that of Brett Maune back in 2014 and 2015, with his raw physical strength and had a huge lead over my 2015 time before succumbing to breathing issues on Day 5 on Mt Yale.


The second attempt was by 22 year old Drew Francis. I remember thinking the poor guy was possibly getting into something way over his head. This was based purely on his age, nothing else. He is a firefighter with a strong physical background and came in with an additional strength: his quick transitions. These really set him apart from anyone else in 14er speed record history. I believe his parents have a triathlon background and I think that helps explain how they could get him in the vehicle and on the road so quickly after he finished a set of mountains. His attempt on is recorded here:

Drew held a lead even over Chris heading into that 5th day, and he pushed into the night in the heart of the Sawatch peaks until having to call it quits on day 6 on Pyramid due to fears of compartment syndrome and rhabdomyolysis.

A new Flurry of Activity in 2024

Both Chris and Drew have plans of going for the record in 2024. Both have stated they plan to train even harder and with knowledge gained from their 2023 fails I don’t think anyone would be wise to doubt their abilities to pull it off.

Meanwhile, after putting up an astounding time on Nolan’s 14 in 2022, Andrea had been considering giving the record a shot in 2023, but was sidelined by her never ending list of injuries. As we watched the drama unfold in 2023, we started considering the idea of the first ever Coed attempt on the speed record.

But we have been riddled with self-doubt. How can a 35 year old girl just coming off hamstring surgery and a 49 year old guy who can’t run anymore and who complains about his hernia all the time possibly compete with super-fit athletes in their 20’s? Can Andrea possibly get ready for something like this in just a couple of months? Can Andrew pull this off at 49? We really don’t know.

In mathematical terms, success on the 14er record is an equation something like this:
fitness + mental + plan + luck = success

We know we will be lacking on the fitness part of the equation. So we hope we can make up for it with the mental and plan part of the equation, and maybe some luck too. The energy of our younger competitors is infectious, reminding us that passion for the mountains knows no age limit. Their approaches have offered us fresh insights, proving that learning is a two-way trail. We hope to use those insights to put forth the best plan yet attempted on the 14er record.

So ultimately if all goes well and all of us make it to the starting line, it is shaping up to be a great battle of the strength of youth vs the experience of old. While the younger athletes bring to the trail an enviable energy and the boldness of youth, there’s an unspoken dialogue between their quick steps and the paths carved by experience. This journey isn’t just about speed; it’s about the stories we tell, the lessons we learn, and the mutual respect we share.

So as we stand on the precipice of an exciting summer for those who love 14ers, we wish Drew and Chris the best, and hope our bodies can hold it together.