According to a Gallup Poll conducted in March, Colorado is home to the fittest population in the U.S. Also home to world-renowned races such as the Bolder Boulder, the Centennial State offers no shortage of opportunity for those who run, or want to start running, to compete.
Runners have various reasons why they started running, from instinctive reasons such as a Forrest Gump-like, “I just felt like running.” To the stress relief that comes with it, “I have my best runs when I’m angry.” And of course, those who run for fitness.
Ali Nichols, 23, started running to stay fit when she was a sophomore at Colorado State University three years ago.
“I believed running a lot would help keep my weight down and it would help me get in and stay in good shape,” Nichols said. “My favorite race is the Bolder Boulder, there are so many people and the energy is out of this world.”
The Bolder Boulder is a 10-kilometer road race held every Memorial Day. Active.com identifies the race as the second largest 10k in the nation behind only Atlanta’s Peachtree 10k.
“You have people running in costumes,” Nichols said. “There are bands, games and people cheering you on the whole way.”
Nichols identified her favorite mid-course event, “I love to participate in the slip n slide while running,” she said. “A frat always has it set up each year and I just love it.”
Sarah Nicholson, 29, started running when her mother’s doctor diagnosed her with end-stage congestive heart failure. “I got into running because a big part of mom’s condition is lack of exercise,” Nicholson said. “I’m averaging five miles a day now but ran eight today.”
Colorado towns and cities will host dozens, if not hundreds of 5k races in the coming months. While 5k is the most popular distance, 10ks, marathons – 26.2 and half-marathons take place around the state as well.
Anja Carter, 39, started running 22 years ago. She runs several races in Colorado each year, “My favorite race was the Thanksgiving Day Run in Fort Collins,” Carter said. “I love the four-mile distance, running through Old Town and the holiday, it’s just fun.”
Chrissy Tarvin, 35, runs to train for local half-marathons and sprint triathlons in addition to fitness. “I’m skipping the Bolder Boulder this year, my favorite race, because I’m competing in the Pelican Fest Triathlon,” Tarvin said. “It’s a half mile swim, 10 mile bike ride then a 5k around Windsor Lake.
Running offers not only excellent exercise, but is among the cheapest of sports in which a person can participate. While most of the information for the past 30 years suggested running shoes were imperative to proper running, a growing population of runners is taking their approach more primitive.
Barefoot running, once believed to be more harmful for the body, is becoming more popular. Due in part to books such as Christopher
McDougall’s Born to Run, this growing sect of runners embraces the idea that modern shoes actually cause more injuries than they cure.
John Gaines, 26, got into barefoot running after he read several reports and articles online last winter, “I started barefooting in January,” Gaines said. “The concept of moving naturally really appeals to me and it proved to strengthen my feet, ankles and increased my resistance to injury.”
For those seeking the competitive challenge of running with a little extra flavor thrown in for fun, the Warrior Dash – August 21 in Breckenridge – offers a 3.27 mile course through and over multiple obstacles.
Ali Nichols registered to run the Warrior Dash as soon as she read the course description, “They have tunnels to run through, cars to jump over, hay bales to run through, they even have a firey pit you have to jump,” Nichols said. “Plus they have free beer at the end of the race.”
Regardless your reason for running or your methods of training, Colorado offers unlimited opportunities to get out into the fresh air and improve or maintain your fitness level by running. For a list of races in the state, visit ColoradoRunnerMag.com/calendar.