On May 20, climber Jeff Lowe, triathlete Colleen Cannon, distance-runner Arturo Barrios, and BolderBoulder founder Steve Bosley will all be inducted into the Boulder Sports Hall of Fame, celebrating their achievements and solidifying their place in Boulder’s sporting history.
The Boulder Sports Hall of Fame is a young institution on the Front Range — the 2017 class is just the fourth wave of athletes to be inducted since 2011. Past inductees include climbing legends like Layton Korr (the inaugural class of 2011) and Lynn Hill (class of 2015), and endurance athletes like Olympic runner Lorraine Moller and winner of the first women’s Tour de France, Marianne Martin (both class of 2012).
The Boulder Sports Hall of Fame is a homegrown celebration, established by local athletes to honor world-class athletes who lived and trained in Boulder. This year’s induction ceremony will raise funds for One World Running, a Boulder-based nonprofit that’s been providing shoes and athletic equipment, as well as medicine and school supplies, to countries around the world since 1986.
Arturo Barrios was among the first group of Boulder’s elite runners to collect shoes for One World Running.
Originally from Mexico City, Barrios was a dominant force in running in the late ’80s and early ’90s. He competed at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, where he finished fifth in the 10,000 meters. His laundry list of achievements includes setting the world record for greatest distance run in a single hour on a track, and becoming the first person in history to run a half marathon in less than an hour, both of which he accomplished in 1991.
But it is the world record that he held in the 10K of which he is proudest.
“That’s something that everyone knows about,” he says. “People know about other distances, but the 10K is my best race. To me, that makes me part of history, part of a small group of people who’ve held the record for the 10K. Even when I’m not here, my children and my children’s children will be able to go back to the computer and see my name right there.”
Barrios moved to Boulder in 1986, where he trained for each of the record-setting events he eventually achieved.
“So for me,” Barrios says, “Boulder County, it’s my home.”
Colleen Cannon, after first visiting in 1983, moved to Boulder the same year as Barrios, and enjoyed her greatest successes during the same period. In 1984, Cannon won the World Triathlon Championships, and then stunned a stacked field in 1988 by winning both of the National Triathlon Championships that year.
“In the ’80s and ’90s, we were more of a family,” she says of training in Boulder. “We were all together, it wasn’t like, ‘Here are the triathletes and here are the runners,’ we would all hang out together, go to Pasta Jay’s, just have fun.”
Since retiring from competitive triathlon, Cannon has continued to inspire and motivate. She started Women’s Quest, a company that runs yoga and meditation retreats all over the world “to help empower women,” Cannon says.
While she has run Women’s Quest retreats in far-flung countries like Malaysia, not long after the Hall of Fame induction she is hosting a weekend retreat in Boulder, replete with hiking and yoga in Chautauqua.
“Brings it back home,” Cannon reflects. “There’s magic in the mountains here, and I think that’s why so many athletes want to be here. Everyone is just so supportive. The secret is having fun, enjoying life and helping each other.”
Each Boulder Sports Hall of Fame class also includes a “Cornerstone Contributor” who, while not necessarily an elite professional athlete, has contributed to Boulder’s reputation and status as a world-class location for such pursuits. Steve Bosley, the 2017 Cornerstone Contributor, came to Boulder quite a bit earlier than his fellow inductees, in 1974. While working at the Bank of Boulder, he noticed that the quality of community-run athletic opportunities was lacking. While his initial idea was to organize a public track meet, he instead settled on a road race, and the BolderBoulder 10K was born.
The BolderBoulder, co-founded by Bosley and Olympic marathon gold-medalist Frank Shorter, has grown into an unrivaled race at the distance, with more than 50,000 participants at recent editions. (Arturo Barrios won the race four times between 1986 and 1993.)
The fourth and final member of the Boulder Sports Hall of Fame is legendary alpinist Jeff Lowe. Originally from Ogden, Utah, Lowe spent the ’80s and ’90s redefining what was possible with ice tools in his hands or in the high mountain ranges of the world. In 1974, he and partner Mike Weis made the first ascent of Bridalveil Falls, an ice climb far ahead of its time in technicality. Then in 1994, with his first ascent of Octopussy, Lowe ushered in the era of mixed climbing — using ice tools on routes that have both rock and ice. Perhaps his boldest and best climb was Metanoia, a directissima he pioneered up the infamous North Face of the Eiger in Switzerland in 1991, solo, over the course of nine days.
In 1999, Lowe developed an “unknown neurodegenerative process” that bears a very close resemblance to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Lowe, who now uses a wheelchair, still remains an active member of the Boulder outdoor community, promoting causes he believes in.
“Every day I’m still in the present, still trying to figure it all out,” Lowe says. “Doing the best I can with what I’ve got, from where we are right now. If you can be in the present moment of your life, you can deal with anything that comes your way.”
Perhaps the most touching sentiment shared by all this year’s inductees is the particular appreciation they feel in being honored by their neighbors.
“This is emotional for me. This is a big deal,” Bosley says.
Upon learning of the award, Cannon says, “I was thrilled. I was amazed. I’ve been in Boulder forever it feels like. And Boulder has so many amazing, talented athletes. I feel very honored to be part of the tribe.”
Barrios captured something else that all the honorees expressed: While incredibly humbled and honored, and while their greatest individual accomplishments may be behind them, they have no intention of stopping.
“Once you’re a part of the Boulder outdoor community, you’re a part of it forever,” Barrios says. “For me, that’s why I never left. It’s been 31 years, and I’m still here and I’m still running.”