By: Laura Hugo
Memorial Day is just around the corner, and in Colorado, over 50,000 runners, walkers, and weekend warriors are out on the roads in full force, preparing themselves for the second biggest 10k road race in the United States: The Bolder Boulder.
This will be my third time racing the 6.2 mile course. My first experience was in 2012, when I missed my start wave after underestimating the time it would take to navigate through the crowds. I may not have been able to find my way through tens of thousands of people, but I did end up running into, and then with, my friend, Winter Vinecki, who has since set the world record for being the youngest person to run a marathon on every continent at age 14.
Last year, the Bolder Boulder was my first 10k race back after giving birth to my son 11 weeks prior. I definitely had minimal fitness at that point in time, but the crowds and excitement carried me through. We have a large number of Oiselle runners here in Colorado (the recent addition of Kara Goucher brought us up to 15), and I had the pleasure of meeting two of my cheerful teammates, Betsy Flood and Rebekah Adams, after we finished. This year, I’m looking forward to having Oiselle represented with more depth than ever, even bringing in athletes from other states.
What to Expect
The Bolder Boulder course seems to fly by for me. Between the entertainment and awesome spectators; that lap around Folsom Field toward the finish line sneaks up in a hurry, which isn’t typically the way a 10k feels for the 5k runner that I am.
This enormous race is action-packed from the time the gun goes off. Local bands, DJs, dance teams, and cheer squads are stationed throughout the course and bring some serious enthusiasm along with them. The city of Boulder comes alive and everyone flocks to the course with food, music, “hydration” via Jell-O shots, and even slip & slides. Both years that I’ve raced it has been quite warm, and that refreshing slip & slide was seriously tempting!
After my first year of racing, I was surprised when I looked at the course elevation profile. I knew that the Bolder Boulder was deemed a difficult course, both because of its altitude as well as the elevation gains throughout (the peak of the course is just below 5400 feet above sea level), but the only serious hill I can remember was the one leading into Folsom Field, during the sixth mile. What got me through that final uphill was knowing that once I made it to the top, I’d be entering the stadium and kicking my way to the finish line, just like the professionals would do a few hours later.
The Bolder Boulder has one of the most exciting finishes that I have ever experienced. With waves of runners starting the race every minute for over two hours, Folsom Field gets more and more packed with finishers and spectators as anticipation builds for the professional wave, which is shown live on the jumbo screen. The crowd goes absolutely insane as the elite runners round the corner into the stadium… flags wave wildly, fans from around the world chant for the runners representing their countries, and the international team challenge winners are awarded the largest non-marathon prize purse in the US. It’s truly a spectacular scene!
What to Wear
Obviously, making wise fashion choices for such an event is important! The first thing I’d recommend doing before picking out race day attire is to look up your start time (waves begin at 7:00am and continue until 9:20am, based upon a qualifying matrix), and dress accordingly. The past two years, the weather has been really warm, and even though I was a bit chilly standing on the start line in my Oiselle singlet and stride short, I was happy not to have extra layers on once the sun peeked over the mountains.
Last year, I was trailing a man running in a thong for the majority of the 10k. With about 800m to go before entering Folsom Field, another man nearby turned to me and uttered between his heavy breaths, “Come on, let’s drop the hammer on this guy. I don’t want his rear end in my finish line photo!” I don’t recommend racing in a thong, but if you do feel like stepping it up a notch to match the wardrobe (or lack thereof) of your fellow competitors, you might want to give the competition brief a try. If you’re feeling really brave, why not pair the race day randies with the supportive and stylish strappy bra?
If you choose to skip the race day mobile locker, which will transport your warm up attire and other personal items to the finish line for you, then I would strongly consider sporting arm warmers or lux glovers to keep you from getting too cold before the gun goes off. Don’t forget to accessorize your kicks with some Shwings, and protect your head from the Colorado sun with the superfly cap. Of course, if you have a proud baby bird waiting for you at the finish line like I do, you’ll want to pick up some wee bird gear to keep your little one stylin’, too.
Words of Wisdom
Race day transportation can be a bit of a beast. I highly recommend booking a hotel room or crashing on a Boulder friend’s couch, but if you must drive the morning of, try to carpool or use public transportation. I’ve had luck with parking in the designated garages (you can find transportation maps on the Bolder Boulder website) and taking the shuttle buses from there to the start area. Determine the amount of time you think you’ll need for travel, and then double it! If you’re planning to use the mobile locker, triple it! The lines are super long for everything, so plan ahead. You don’t want to miss the start wave that you trained and raced so hard to qualify for!
Try to take in all that the course has to offer! High five the spectators, run through the hoses in front yards, and take a trip down the slip & slide for me if you’re not trying to beat the clock. Races with this much liveliness are hard to come by, so run in the moment and take in your surroundings! With that being said, remember to check your pace and breathing periodically throughout the first mile. Personally, when the gun goes off, I tend to start this 10k at a pace more appropriate for a single lap around the track, which is so easy to do with music blasting and the energy of 50,000 athletes pulsing through the masses. Remember that this race is challenging, so save your kick for Folsom.
Finally, you must stay for the elites to finish! I know that the post-race celebration can be crowded and that you may finish hours before the Kenyans do (how often can you say that?), but you’ll want to be in the stands as the top runners fight booty lock all the way to the line, trust me.
Above all, enjoy racing through vibrant Boulder, remember to fly over those hills, and best of luck to you all as you chase your goals! I hope to see you out there.
Head up, wings out!