Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Bolder Boulder 2024 Race Report

How can I describe the Bolder Boulder? Simply to point out that it's the world's largest 10K race doesn't do it justice. So let me add:

  • With 50,000 runners, it's the sixth largest race of any distance in the U.S.
  • It puts on one of the best Memorial Day programs in the country.
  • It attracts top national and even international talent in both its "citizens" and "pro" races.
  • No city looks prettier than Boulder this time of the year.
  • The weather is usually ideal (like it was yesterday).

I ran this race last year and was hoping to improve my 10K PR this weekend. I wasn't the only person running his legs off. Conner Mantz -- who will represent the U.S. this summer in the Olympic marathon in Paris -- returned to defend his title. Last year he won the race by only 4 seconds. This year he did it again, finishing in 29 minutes and 12 seconds to outlast Eritrea's Haileselassie by just 1.8 seconds. On the final hill on Folsom Street, Haileselassie took the lead, but as the race went into the downhill into Folsom Field, Mantz found a new gear and became the first repeat champion since Allan Kiprono of Kenya in 2012-13. 

In a post-race interview, Mantz said he got a huge boost from the crowd in Folsom Field. "The crowd was so loud and it was just fun to be in such a special environment," he said. This what those last few meters looked like from my seat in the stadium:

And the rest of us? A 10K race is not all that difficult. I've done maybe two dozen of them. Still, it requires patience. Bolder Boulder is difficult both because of its elevation (1 mile above sea level) and its vertical profile (it has 272 feet of vertical climbing). My goal was twofold: I wanted to PR, and I wanted to beat at least half of the other 71-year olds in the race. My wave stood in line for an hour and 10 minutes before the gun sounded for us to start. 

It took me about a mile to find a pace that was sustainable. Runners were yo-yo-ing in response to each other and the crowded course. I found strength and comfort knowing what I was capable of and not allowing the pace of others to influence my own. My fastest miles were my first and last. I remember thinking that I had very little left in the tank when I finally entered the stadium. This was my view:

Folsom Stadium is a fabulous finish location for a race. I held my own and with a final kick managed somehow to achieve a PR. It was only by 2 minutes, but I was happy to take it. I also finished 34th out of a total of 77 runners in the male/age 71 category. I loved seeing people at all levels pushing to what was outside their comfort zone. That's the beauty of running. There is a challenge and a goal for every single level.

A GREAT RACE it was. There were so many unforgettable moments during the post-race show. Here are two of them:

I think the 10K is my all-time favorite race distance, and the Bolder Boulder is my all-time favorite 10K. I'm already looking forward to next year's race. A shout out to the race organizers for putting on another outstanding event this year. Thanks also to my former student Andy who invited me to speak to his congregation on Sunday in Denver. I enjoyed that. But most of all: 

To the loved ones we lost, you are forever in our hearts and minds. Your service and your sacrifice to our country will never be forgotten. May all of us take inspiration each Memorial Day from the patriotism of the brave soldiers and first-responders who died for our great nation. THANK YOU.