Podcast: Episode 188: The Art and Science of Short FKTs with Kyle Richardson


Longer routes tend to get most of the love, but shorter FKTs can require just as much planning, practice, and persistence. In fact, dare we say shorter FKTs can be just as notable? 

Mountain athlete Kyle Richardson certainly won’t weigh in on that debate, but his records throughout the Boulder, Colorado area speak for themselves. Loyal listeners may remember Kyle from episode six of this podcast, when we discussed his FKT on the LA Freeway, a 16-hour off-trail epic along the Indian Peaks skyline above Boulder.

The LA Freeway is short compared to a long trail like the AT. But Kyle holds even shorter records. The fastest “scrambler” in Boulder, Kyle set FKTs on the most iconic routes in Boulder’s fabled flatiron rock formations, including the First Flatiron and the “Quinfecta,” a scrambling link up of Flatirons One through Five. Both of these records require precision maneuvering the fifth-class terrain of the flatirons themselves, as well as endurance running up the steep hills and nimbleness descending the technical terrain and buffed-out trails.

In August 2020, Kyle set the record on Longs Peak, the 14,255-foot behemoth that towers above the front range. The fastest way requires a mixture of on and off-trail running and fifth-class scrambling up the Cables Route, a 5.4 granite rock face that, as its name implies, once held cables to assist climbers up the peak. On July 22, 2021, Kyle set the FKT on Green Mountain, the home hill he runs nearly every day – 711 times to date.

All of these records may create the illusion that these FKTs came easily. Kyle argues that is not at all the case. Each required years of practice, meticulously learning every hand hold on the rock and repeating the routes over and over to learn the quickest lines. In fact, Kyle at his ripe old age of 26 has gone up the First Flatiron 356 times. He summited Longs 50 times before his record-setting run – including 13 times just that summer. 

Tune in to this episode of the FKT Podcast to hear host Heather Anderson’s take on FKTs that could not be more different than the ones for which she’s known. Kyle shares his philosophy around the daily practice of running up his home hill and learning a landscape intimately. Plus, learn how Kyle, a professional musician, uses his movement in the mountains to inform his music. Fun fact, Kyle created the music for this podcast! 

Read the trip reports for all of Kyle’s FKTs over at fastestknowntime.com. Keep up with his adventures on Instagram, and check out his film, Tempo, which explores his relationship between movement and music. 


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