The Bolder Boulder is not about running

I’ve lived in Boulder for nearly seven years. For at least four of those years, I’ve had people tell me, “You have to do the Bolder Boulder! It’s so fun!”

The Bolder Boulder is a 10km ‘fun run’ that has tens of thousands of participants each year. (There’s also a professional race, but that’s a whole other thing.) Held on Memorial Day, the race (for want of a better word) takes over pretty much the whole of downtown Boulder. If roads are not blocked off as part of the race course itself, then they are full of people going to and from the race. Starting downtown at the junction of Walnut and 28th, the 10km course winds its way around downtown until it finishes in Folsom Stadium, at the University of Colorado (go Buffs!).

Get ready, set, go!
Get ready, set, go!

I’ve never seen the point, really. I have been working so much for the past few years that finding the time, navigating all those people and filling in a form, and paying the money to register was all too hard. People saying “it’s so fun!” was not something that triggered me enough to make me do it. This year was different. I’ve graduated with my PhD, and I’m embracing things I’ve been blinkered to. So, this time, I convinced Max to sign up with me, and we did it. (Of course, he made sure I knew he was running the whole way, and left me in his dust, but that’s kids for ya.) I didn’t intend to run or even jog the whole way. I thought I’d just mix it up a little, and see what it was like. I didn’t know what an emotional impact it would have on me.

It’s about community

The race start goes in ‘waves’, each leaving about 2 minutes after the previous one. This way, everyone gets their group’s starting gun. That’s pretty darned cool. People of all ages, and all sizes, and all abilities (because one does not mean another) get ready, set and BANG go! Some in costumes, some in trakky dacks, some in finely chosen matching running attire. Everyone goes. Thousands and thousands and thousands of people. A surge of people moving in the same direction, smiling, and happy. No pushing, no grumbling, even though everyone was at different speeds. How few times do we get to experience that? It was fantastic to smile with people who were all doing the same thing – even if we were doing it at different paces and for so many different reasons. Let’s talk about that.

It’s about resonance

I never thought I’d actually have tears on my face doing the Bolder Boulder. But yep, that happened. More than once. It began when I saw so many people with pinned on flags, holding the names of service men and women they were running in honor of. It’s Memorial day, after all.

Go Preston's Pacemakers - and Preston!
Go Preston’s Pacemakers – and Preston!

Then there were people running with the names of others from their lives who have passed, that they were recognizing. Sometimes they’d added pictures, too. And then in addition to these wonderful people, some people wore shirts that showed they were running in support of people who were actually there, doing the race with them. I adored the family members of Preston, who were all out with Preston himself. ‘Preston’s Pacemakers’ surrounded him and wow, what a family! And then there was an incredible child with crutches, flanked by the fantastic Achilles International support people. Everyone cheered him on, both spectators and all of us runners, as he just.kept.going.

There’s something truly deeper in the Bolder Boulder than the 10km, than the running and even of the completing of it. It’s far bigger than “fun.” For so many people, it’s about a connection with something they find resonant. The Bolder Boulder is a way of connecting with it, celebrating it, and recognizing it with those around them, knowing that every one of them will be respected. The Bolder Boulder is a lightning rod.

So I did my first Bolder Boulder, but it won’t be my last. I’m sure some of you would like to know where I placed. I’m very proud to say I finished the race in a scant 1 hour and 40 minutes. I crossed the line in 36,312th place. I know that’s pretty fast, and it would have been even faster if I hadn’t stopped to take a picture with Elvis along the way (proof at the bottom of the post). Next year, I might walk even faster, or do scout’s pace or something.

As someone who notices things and loves being immersed in something, this was an incredibly rewarding experience. How lucky I am to live in Boulder, surrounded by these people. How lucky I am to have legs and feet that ached all afternoon afterwards. How fabulous that after weeks of rain filled days, the skies parted and gave a picture perfect day for us all! So now, I’ve crossed off doing a 14er (you can read about that here), and doing the Bolder Boulder. I wonder what Colorado-crazy thing I’ll get to next?

Elvis - and it's not even Vegas!
Elvis – and it’s not even Vegas!

2 comments

  • All I know about the Bolder Boulder is how hard it is to drive so it’s so nice to hear why people do this wacky #OnlyInBoulder thing 🙂

  • I echo all these emotions. Participating in the BB is priceless! I “ran” in 2010 and it still ranks in the top of my most triumphant moments. If I can find the post I made back then I’ll share it with you. Way to go!

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