2011 Bolder Boulder

Parachutists coming into the stadium

Aaron Pike winning the 2011 Bolder Boulder Men's Wheelchair RaceAnother Memorial Day, which means another Bolder Boulder.

The Bolder Boulder 10K isn’t just a race; it’s practically in its own time zone. It’s the third largest 10K in the US, with approximately 50,000 runners. It’s also one of the largest Memorial Day celebrations in the US: after the race there is a ceremony in which, among other things, parachutists carrying the flags of each of the service branches swoop into Folsom Stadium on the CU Boulder campus and land on a dime (how do they do that?). There’s also a flyover, color guards, honored veteran guests, and more.

Parachutists coming into the stadiumThis was my second year participating in the Bolder Boulder as a wheelchair racer. The race is divided up into two parts. The citizens race is open entry and anyone can sign up. The other part is the elite/pro race, called the International Team Challenge. It’s run later in the day, after the citizens race. It consists of invited teams of 3 runners each from a number of countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, Morocco, Japan, Guatemala, UK, Columbia), a US team, a Colorado team, and the wheelchair racers. Unlike the other pro racers, the wheelchair racers race with the citizens (with a 5 minute head start). The really fast wheelchair racers never see an able-bodied runner, but the slower wheelchair racers (ie, yours truly), get mixed up with the fastest able-bodied runners pretty quickly.

My race was not too bad. My time was a little slower than last year, but I’m blaming the new start. For years, the race started downhill, which meant that the wheelchair racers got a tremendous boost and were able to get a really good head start on the runners. This year they turned the start around so that the first 1/2 mile is uphill. I didn’t think it would make that much of a difference, but when I looked at my first mile split this year compared with last year, I found it was almost 2 minutes slower!

Things I need to work on for next year:

  1. I need to anticipate the direction of the turns sooner, so that I can make sure I’m on the outside of the turn. This way I don’t get in the way of as many runners, and don’t lose speed (especially on downhill turns) slowing down for runners.
  2. Figure out a better way to drink. The first year I wore a Camelbak. That was overkill. This year I took no water (it’s just a 10K! Who needs water?). I avoid the water stations like the plague because they are crowded, wet, and with my racing gloves there’s no way to grab a cup of water. Next year I think I’ll try a water bottle with a stiff straw. I don’t need liters, but I do need something.
  3. More hill work (yes, this is what I said last year). I was better on the very steep hills this year, but not good enough. I especially lost a lot of time trying to get over the speed bump on the last hill before the finish (last year it took me 4 tries to get over the speed bump; this year only 2, but I’d rather just get over it the first time).
  4. Remember that the race isn’t over before the stadium. I was so worn out by the last two hills, I just coasted into the stadium. I could have (should have) pushed.
  5. Remember to stay to the left coming into the stadium. I was on the far right (the inside), and halfway around the stadium track volunteers started yelling at me to get on the outside, which was hard to do without colliding with runners.


  1. chekoala

    as usual: lerv yr werk, Katja

  2. Elpgal

    Congrats Katja! BB is my husband’s favorite and he hopes he can make me run it some day (when I take up running and manage to shuffle for more than half a mile).

  3. Katja (Post author)

    Lots of people walk it – I’m just saying…

  4. Elpgal

    I have walked a few races and feel very dejected about it. Anyhow, I went out and bought myself a sports bra today evening. I hope to try it out this weekend.

  5. Katja (Post author)

    I understand about the dejection completely, Elpgal. Hope the sports bra does the trick!


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