January 11 2018
A runner shares a personal essay documenting her years as "the runner" in rural South Dakota.
Take a moment to envision your perfect run. Do you picture yourself along a winding pathway by a gurgling creek? On rough mountain trails with lung-searing climbs? Maybe a soft dirt road through a grassy meadow is more your speed? Whatever your running pleasure, Boulder, Colo., offers these cardiovascular treats and more, making the little mountain city a big-time bucket-list destination.
Thanks to the high altitude and idyllic trails, Boulder has become a central stomping ground for the nation’s best runners. Pop into any of the local coffee shops or pubs and you’re likely to rub elbows with an Olympic sprinter, overhear an ultra-runner describing last weekend’s 50-miler or watch an elite athlete refuel after her morning workout.
Melody Fairchild, a word-class trail runner and coach born and raised in Boulder, says that for runners, the city is “like a buffet.” From breathtaking trails to iconic races, there’s a reason why the world’s best call Boulder home. But these earthly pleasures don’t require record-setting race times to enjoy. Runners of every speed will relish the gorgeous scenery and healthful culture of this adrenaline-addicted town.
THE SUPER-FAST STRIDERS WHO HAVE GROWN ROOTS IN BOULDER SHARE THEIR FAVORITE RACES AND PLACES.
Elite mountain runner Melody Fairchild fell in love with the popular Bolder Boulder 10k at a young age. “Running the Bolder Boulder was what we all dreamed about because we got to race with the elites,” say Fairchild, who first ran the race at age 9, just a few years before she became the first high school girl in America to break 10 minutes in the 2-mile. A Memorial Day must-do, Bolder Boulder attracts nearly 50,000 runners each year. bolderboulder.com
Trading 300 days of rain for 300 days of sun was only one of the reasons ultrarunner Krissy Moehl made the move from the Pacific Northwest to Boulder. Her other impetus? Easy access to over 200 miles of challenging trails. Moehl says Bear Canyon trail is her favorite because it snakes between Green and Bear mountains, boasting incredible views coupled with smooth terrain.
Darcy Africa, who spent the last year winning the Bighorn 100 in Wyoming, the Hardrock 100 in Colorado and The Bear 100 in Utah (yup, 100 refers to miles!), cited the Mesa Trail as an absolute must-run. “The 6-plus-mile route ambles along the Flatirons, from Chautauqua to Eldorado Canyon. But you can also run an out-and-back distance of your choosing, making it a great place to test out the trails.”