I’ve long been more a biker and hiker than a runner, and I grew up in a family that considered mowing the lawn heavy exercise, so the 33rd annual Bolder Boulder 10k was my first road race — only yesterday did I learn that a marathon is 26 miles. So with a bum ankle, sprained last week in a basketball game, added to my inexperience, I was definitely a little apprehensive when the starting gun for my humble wave fired at 9:18 a.m. Monday.
Helped by a little Advil and Arnica, along with two days of couch confinement, I was able to run the first and last miles of the Bolder Boulder, “power walking” the rest. And what a fantastic time it was, making my way north on 30th St. from Walnut to Valmont, ending up as far north as Ideal Market, winding through downtown and then sprinting around the track inside a packed Folsom Field, which brought back memories of witnessing Colorado’s dramatic 35-34 comeback win against Texas A&M two years ago.
Featuring more than 56,000 runners this year, the Bolder Boulder is the fifth largest road race in the world, and the largest in the U.S., in which all participants are timed. But one wonders how many other similar-sized road races can match the sight of a beer-soaked Slip ’n Slide halfway through, runners dressed as yellow Lego men, or a mother dressed as a gorilla hugging a daughter in a banana costume as they strode down Pine Street in the rain.
Sure, San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers (which features over 100,000 runners, walkers and highly inebriated stumblers) is a whole lot of crazy fun, but throughout the 2011 Bolder Boulder I found myself attracted to juxtaposition of quaint, breathtaking and hip that is Boulder. Of the few thousand people I passed as I picked up my pace here and there, starting as a W and finishing among the N’s, no one — not even the several partiers along the raceway trying to give beer and hugs to runners — seemed more than a tiny bit drunk, and the rain clouds that intermittently surrounded the town, hovering over the Flatirons, gave the entire day a calming freshness that kept everyone nice and cool.
Two complaints, however: Of the roughly two dozen fully electric bands lining the Bolder Boulder, not one was playing a song that fit into the marathon theme, or even had the words “run” or “running” in the title. No “Running Down a Dream,” “Run Like Hell,” “Keep the Car Running,” “Run, Run Rudolph,” “Run For Your Life” or even “Born to Run”? The closest any of the musical acts along the 2011 Bolder Boulder came to nailing the proper theme was a female-fronted rock group at Folsom and Canyon performing “I Think We’re Alone Now,” with an emphasis on the line “running just as fast as we can.” And I’m not even sure that counts.
C’mon, people — you can do better in 2012. I even promise to beat my pathetic hour-and-a-half net time by 20 minutes next year if someone plays Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills.”
Oh, and the other complaint? As Will Ferrell said in Anchorman, “Milk was a bad choice.”
I don’t know about the more than 56,000 other participants in this year’s Bolder Boulder, but when I finish a 6.2-mile race I don’t find the idea of drinking chocolate milk and Pepsi, or eating potato chips, appealing. However, the Bolder Boulder organizers gave away those three strangely chosen snacks to all participants after we’d made our way through Folsom Field yesterday, snuggled into red giveaway bags made in China.
Here’s an idea for Bolder Boulder in 2012: Use the money spent on made-in-China goodie bags to instead hire a great made-in-America band (I dunno, Wilco?) to perform in the center of Folsom Field while participants make their way around the track and runners who’ve already finished enjoy a seat and a beer.
Wishful thinking, I know. Time to rest my ankle again. Thank you, Bolder Boulder.