This past weekend, Buena Vista held their annual "Gold Rush Days". Music, storytelling, a parade, a kayaking demonstration, a rubber ducky race, vendors - and my favorite event, the Third Leg of the Triple Crown of Pack Burro Racing!
The first pack burro race in Colorado was held on July 30, 1949 - a 23 mile race from Leadville to Fairplay over Mosquito Pass, the highest pass in North America. Since then, pack burro racing in Colorado has evolved to a series of six mountain races. The last three, held in Fairplay, Leadville and Buena Vista, comprise the Triple Crown, with a cash award and a traveling trophy.
Each burro wears a pack saddle carrying 33 pounds of mining gear, including a gold pan, a pick and a shovel. The rules specify that the runner may carry (or push, pull, or drag) the burros, but the burros cannot carry the runners.
The Buena Vista race is 13 miles long, run on the Whipple Trail at the end of Main Street, the hike we like on days we don't want to drive into the high country (we don't do 13 miles). The runners and burros looked fresh and fast out of the starting gate (above) - the burros still looked fresh as they crossed the finish line, but the runners looked pretty well exhausted.
The events program for Gold Rush Days has an article written by Tom Sobol, who has finished in first place in nearly 60 burro races. He describes burro racing as "Colorado's only indigenous sport"; I liked his advice on "How To Win A Burro Race":
"Find a burro that wants to run. Burros are just like people. Many burros enjoy the equivalent of sitting around eating too much junk food and watching TV. Others enjoy getting out of their pens to see what is out there. Find a burro that likes to get out."
The runners and their burros seemed like great friends - every burro got a big hug and lots of positive encouragement when they crossed the finish line.
These burros look like siblings, don't they? They crossed the finish line together, like they were buddies, and wanted to hang out near each after the race.
After the race ended, we headed home to sit around, read the Sunday paper, watch the end of the golf tournament and another day of the Olympics. We sound like the non-racing burros, don't we? Even more so when the clouds blew away, the sun came out, and we decided to grill hot dogs for dinner! The Bartees fell right in with the plan - Buddy had been hankering for junk food all day.
Nothing but sunshine this morning, a great travel day. The Bartees stay had ended and we reluctantly said goodbye to our hiking buddies. I know some of their friends and family have been following our blog to see what Jackie and Buddy have been up to... here is the final photo as they rolled out of their site before 9 am.
We're here for another week, which will be easy to fill with golf (for Odel), hiking, sightseeing, and some deferred chores. For now - time to get dinner going.
Monday, August 11, 2008