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The Bolder Boulder – A 6.2 Mile Party

May 29, 2013

This Memorial Day, I ran the Bolder Boulder for the first time, and it was epic.  The Bolder Boulder is a 10k (6.2 mile) race in Boulder, Colorado, and at around 50,000 participants it’s the largest timed road race in America.  It’s also consistently voted the best 10k in America by magazines and such that vote on that sort of thing.  For as long as I’ve lived in Colorado I’ve wanted to run it, so this year when the stars aligned and I’d actually be around to do so I was totally psyched.

The Bolder Boulder was remarkably well-organized for a race with 50,000 people, and the start felt less chaotic than many smaller races I’ve run due to the dozens of waves staggered by running pace.  If you’re interested in running it but a little wary of the large size, definitely don’t let it deter you.

For a race with 50,000 people, the Bolder Boulder was remarkably well-organized.  The start felt less chaotic than many smaller races that I've run.

Thousands of racers waited to start in waves behind me as I lined up at the starting line.

I can’t stress enough that this is anything but your ordinary 10k.  This race is in its 35th year, and it is truly an event.  It is something people come from far and wide to run, and it makes Memorial Day Weekend the biggest weekend of the year in Boulder.  People line the route to cheer on the runners,  pretty much tailgating all morning.

It might make it more clear to tell you that before this race, I had never, over the course of 6.2 miles…

High-fived an Elvis impersonator.

Given and received so many high fives, period.

Passed by a Slip ‘n’ Slide.  I totally would have hit it up had the line not been so long.  I was moderately concerned with running a decent time and the wait just looked too long.

Bolder Boulder Slip n Slide

Been offered jello shots and IPA.  Not just beer, mind you, but IPA… during a road race.  Only in Boulder 🙂

Seen not one, but two sets of belly dancers.

Passed these fine folks.

Bolder Boulder Peeps

Run through about 50 different sets of sprinklers, garden hoses and water gun sprays.

Been offered bacon, Doritos, popcorn and Otter Pops.

Seen phenomenal costumes on the runners themselves, including a man in a gorilla costume with a cage attached to his front, with another guy in the cage. (seriously)

Been serenaded by an 80s cover band, a Celtic band complete with Irish dancers, lots of good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, some hard rocking teenage girls and jazz musicians.  I started the run with my headphones in but they were quickly rendered irrelevant.  Next time around I’ll leave them at home because it was WAY more fun once I ditched them.

There were so many amazing sights that made me want to whip out the iPhone camera, but I either passed by too quickly (because I run SO fast), was in the spray of a sprinkler, or was simply too busy enjoying the moment to think of it.  To get a better feel for the day, please click through this photo gallery put together by the Denver Post.  A Google image search of Bolder Boulder 2013 is sure to be pretty entertaining too.

Add all of this to the gorgeous views of the Flatiron Mountains along the way.

Bolder Boulder 2013

I felt like a little bit of a badass every time the course climbed a little hill and I got to pass a bunch of flatlanders – not because I’m particularly fast or in shape, but because hills are pretty much my only option when working out at home!  Then it was even cooler to crest the hill and look out over thousands of runners stretched in front of me.

Bolder Boulder 2013

The prettiest section of the run was toward the end, when we looped through gorgeous downtown Boulder.  And the grand finale was definitely the finish in the University of Colorado’s Folsom Field.

Bolder Boulder Finish

Folsom Field

It makes perfect sense that the only venue to gather 50,000 people is a football stadium, and it was a very cool feeling to run a lap around the football field at the conclusion of the 10k.  By the time I hit the stadium the stands were starting to fill up (the earliest waves started a full hour before mine), and people were cheering loudly.  I know they weren’t cheering for me necessarily, but it was still awesome.

After snagging a pretty awesome snack bag and about 17 bottles of water (I bypassed the free beer that each runner was entitled to – I know, but I just couldn’t stomach it, and we were heading to an after-party with much better beer), I found my friends and we all sat in the stands for a while watching the runners continue pouring in.  We were particularly amazed by a pair of firefighters who ran the race in their full firefighting garb and must have sweated buckets.  After we decided we were over sweating buckets ourselves, we walked back toward downtown to watch the professional runners race the course.

Pros running Bolder Boulder

I didn’t realize until that moment that world-class runners come in to compete on a slightly different course after the novices are done.  It was pretty cool to watch the elite field of men and women fly by.  They were pure muscle, and by the time the field reached our spectating spot it was pretty spread out, with the Kenyans and Ethiopians leading the way.

After seeing the pros do their thing, we made our way back to my friend’s house to shower up and enjoy the ultimate Bolder Boulder after-party – a barbecue her family has been throwing following the race for over 30 years.  Relaxing in the shady backyard with a plate full of delicious food and a couple of cold beers was the perfect way to cap off a fabulous first Bolder Boulder experience and start the summer off right.  Cheers to a wonderful Memorial Day!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Paul permalink
    May 29, 2013 5:51 pm

    Can’t wait to do this next year!

  2. paigehelene permalink
    May 31, 2013 12:55 pm

    SO fun! I can’t wait to do this next year! I’ve been running around Summit and the trails are JUST starting to dry up.


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