Greg Cummings is about to get his life back.

That’s because the Colorado Springs man has finished his 365-day obsession of climbing the Manitou Incline more times than anyone in a calendar year. He accomplished that Dec. 21 on his 1,720th ascent, besting the 2015 mark set by his buddy, Roger Austin. Cummings on Saturday pushed the record to 1,825.

That made it an average of five up-and-down treks a day since Jan. 12, 2019, on the railroad ties gaining more than 2,000 feet in less than a mile.

On Saturday, one more trip was enough for Cummings, 62.

“Believe me, it’s a burden relieved,” he said. “I’ve been looking forward to this for almost 52 weeks.”

Greg Cummings, right, is greeted by supporters after he tied the record for climbs of the Manitou Incline in a year on December 21, 2019. Photo Credit: The Gazette, Christian Murdock.
Greg Cummings, right, is greeted by supporters after he tied the record for climbs of the Manitou Incline in a year on December 21, 2019. Photo Credit: The Gazette, Christian Murdock.

But he refused to abandon the record pursuit in his first year of retirement. That was despite his Type 1 diabetes that made the daily grind life-threatening.

His wife, Alison, is relieved, too.

“It’s been a tremendous year, not a positive year,” she said in a previous interview. “It’s been a strain on our relationship, his relationship with his children. Harder than I ever thought.”

Austin, meanwhile, has vowed to reclaim the record. Since his 1,719 mark, he’s been avidly hiking on his replaced knees (he doesn’t blame the Incline for the surgeries but has said “it certainly didn’t help”).

A full-time job might keep Austin from trying again soon. Or not.

“When I finally retire, if I don’t break it before then, that record won’t stand,” he said.

The friendly rivalry started in 2010 with Cummings’ 601 Inclines on the year. Austin countered with 719 in 2013. Cummings raised him with 1,400 the next year, before Austin returned with a number that seemed impossible.

Could 2,000 be next?

“The numbers are up so high now that it’s not the kind of thing you can look at casually and say, ‘I can go do that,’” Cummings said. “If you’ve got a lot of other things going on in your life, you’ve got a real chore ahead of you. You can’t be doing it part time.”

He figures his record will be broken, but he swears he won’t go back for it. “Not even a thought,” he said.

Saturday night, he was looking forward to a dinner date with his wife.

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