I’ve run over 50 races, including four marathons, three overnight relays, 20 half marathons, and countless 5Ks and 10Ks . And the Bolder Boulder 10K ranks among my favorite races ever, including the Boston Marathon. Seriously. Here’s why I love it, why it’s worth traveling for, and why you should add it to your race calendar, regardless of your running experience level!
Tommy and I ran the Bolder Boulder 10K on Memorial Day and seriously LOVED IT.
I feel like everyone talks about Boston, Big Sur and the Disney Races as destination races and now that I’ve run the Bolder Boulder, I’m baffled as to why more people don’t talk about it. The crowd support is amazing. The views are incredible. The swag is fantastic. It’s a perfect vacation spot for runners. The race can accommodate every type of runner. And it’s also a great race for NON-runners so it’s a great option for families or groups of friends.
I guess to be fair, I probably wouldn’t have thought to travel for 10K. A half marathon or a marathon, yes. But a 10K seemed too short to really justify making a trip to run. I was wrong. The Bolder Boulder 10K is DEFINITELY worth making the trip for.
I could go on and on about how much I loved it. But, I consolidated it down to 10 reasons you should add it to your race calendar, in no particular order! I also shared some of the behind the scenes stuff I got to access as a media guest which was incredible!
I saw truly every type of runner out there in the field of 50,000 runners!
If you’re an elite (oh hiiiii, thanks for reading my blog!) or just follow the elite field closely, this race is a big deal. When I was at the press conference for elites the day before the race, one of them even said that this race is as big of a deal for her as the Olympics!
But, if you’re a more “normal” run, this race is for you too.
Trying to break 40 minutes in the 10K? They have a sub 40 club to celebrate that big accomplishment.
Running for fun? You for SURE have that covered.
Running with kids? This race is very family friendly.
Never run before? No problem. Lots of people walk the entire race.
I flew in a couple days early and stayed a couple extra days after the race and I’m so glad I did. The running trails are TOP notch and so accessible. The best kind of destination race involves fun running before and after and I can’t imagine a better place for that than Boulder.
If you want a paved path, you can run along the creek path within the city. If you want a groomed trail or a rugged trail, there are countless options within 10-20 minutes of driving. And it’s so easy to connect with other runners who are in town so you’re not running alone!
My friend Jonathan, from InsideTracker and For the Long Run podcast, invited Tommy and me to a group run. I got to meet Neeley Spence Gracey and a bunch of other local runners. That’s one of the amazing things about being a runner – instant community and instant friends!
Let’s say you have a group of friends or a family you want to travel with to the race, but not everyone wants to run. No problem. Beyond the race, there is great shopping on Pearl Street (so many cute boutiques), fantastic hiking, AMAZING food and drinks, live music and it’s a short drive into Denver if you want museums and such.
The area has something for everyone. It’s very walkable but super easy to get an Uber or Lyft if you want to venture out as well. Or just rent a car! (I probably would next time.)
And on race day, it’s easy for spectators to cheer you on during the race since the course runs through the heart of Boulder. Or, they can just head to the finish line at Folsom Stadium (on CU Boulder’s campus) and snag a seat and take in the amazing mountain views while they wait.
There is obviously tons of seating at the stadium and with the finish line inside the stadium, it makes it really nice for friends and family who are waiting for runners. Plus a 10K isn’t too long where spectators will waiting for hours for the runners to finish, like they would at a half marathon or marathon. I’ve honestly never been to a race that’s more convenient for spectators.
After the “civilians” run the race (that’s all of us) and the elites finish, there is an amazing Memorial Day tribute. They honor our veterans, current and past, and share so many stories of local heroes who have served our country. The tribute ends with parachuters, carrying flags of the different military branches and finishing with the American Flag.
I grew up going to Memorial Day gatherings in Neola, Utah (a tiny town where my dad’s family is from), where we’d visit graves of our family members. At the tiny cemetery in the middle of nowhere Neola, veterans did flag presentation, complete with taps. I now realize as an adult that, outside of Utah, it’s pretty rare to visit graves and celebrate our heroes on Memorial Day.
The Bolder Boulder Memorial Day tribute reminded me of home AND reminded me just how incredibly blessed we are to live in this country. In a time in our country where it feels like there is so much strife, it was really wonderful to feel a bond with everyone in that stadium, celebrating our country. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for those who have served, and I think every single person there teared up at least once!
A friend told me before the race that it’s flawlessly executed, whether you’re in the first wave or the 98th wave. (There are literally 100 waves). And he was right, the whole experience was flawless. I love logistics and thinking through “if this, then what?” or “if that, then what” . And they have thought about EVERYTHING.
You’d think with 100 waves and 50,000 runners that something would feel confusing or overwhelming. Nope. From packet picket to bag drop to lining up for your wave, everything was so easy to navigate — even for a first timer, like my husband!
I started the race before him since I was in wave 3 and he was further back and he dropped our bags for us and got lined up in his corral without any problems.
I generally do not care about snacks and swag after a race since it’s usually something I don’t really want or can’t eat (gluten woes). When you finish the Bolder Boulder, you can exit to the stands to watch other runners finish. Or, you can exit to the field house where nuun and water is waiting, along with a reusable lunch tote filled with food. (There is also soda and hard sparkling water if you want that!)
Inside the lunch tote? Seriously yummy goodies, all from local Boulder companies. And if you don’t know. Boulder has GREAT food and great food companies headquartered there. In the 2019 bag:
You could satisfy your post-run carb and protein needs AND get your salty and sweet tooth fix! (Side note: that was my first time trying any Bobo’s products and holy delicious.)
I was in the third wave, had so much fun running it, finished the race and then ran back to the start line (about 1.5 miles away). Then, I got to run it again – with my husband!! So if you have people in different waves or want to run it with your kids after running it solo, you can.
Or, like lots of people, you could race the race and then you could FUN-fun the race a second time. And it’s even better with friends the second go around!
Getting to run the race twice is SUCH a fun experience that, again, is really rare in a race!
It’s SO rare that you can watch elites finish a race you’re running. The VAST majority of races start with the elites and you hear who won after the fact. And I honestly think this is part of the reason more people don’t follow professional running more closely — it’s hard to really learn who is winning a race and making an impact on our sport when they finish before so many people even start.
I LOVE that the Bolder Boulder has the elites run last so all the runners can watch them finish and cheer for them. It gives the sport of running and the pros more exposure, which I’m all about!
I like to think of a world where more kids grow up admiring professional runners and aspire to become runners. It’s just such an accessible sport that can last for a lifetime and can be started at any age, young or old. This race reinforces that.
While the Bolder Boulder has 100 waves, the first 30 waves are seeded based on a previous race time that you submit when you register. Then, the other 70 waves are for people who plan to run or walk slower than an 11:30 minute mile, or for people who don’t have a previous race time to submit.
Some races have waves but they don’t really enforce them. The Bolder Boulder requires you to show your bib to get into your wave. This means there aren’t traffic jams like a lot of big races where the assigned waves aren’t enforced. The problem with that? When people get into a wave that’s too fast for them, it can really mess up the race for those who are trying to set a PR or run a fast time if they have to weave around a lot of slower runners.
You don’t have to worry about that at this race.
I’ve only run one other race with the same amount of crowd support: the Boston Marathon. So if you have no desire to run Boston or don’t think you could qualify but want to experience what the crowds are like and how a community rallies around runners, run the Bolder Boulder.
There are SO many locals on out on the course since it runs through neighborhoods and right through downtown. And they are there to have fun with you. Do you like beer? Dogs? Doritos? Bacon? Slip & Slides? Live music? Belly dancer? Drummers? Interacting with spectators? GREAT. Because there will be party stops for the entire 6.2 miles with all of those things.
And Jared Ward, who ran in the marathon at the Rio Olympics, said the finish line of the Boulder Bolder is louder than the finish line at the Olympics!
The pre-race press conference was so fun because many elite runners and coaches I admire were there! I wish I’d been brave enough to introduce myself to Alan Culpepper and Stephanie Bruce! But, I got to meet Jared Ward who is one of my VERY favorite elites (tied with Des!!) as well as Joe Vigil and Frank Shorter!!
Jared Ward is literally the nicest person I have EVER met. Wait, no. He is TIED as the nicest person I’ve ever met with my husband. Seriously.
I was GEEKING out over all these people, but Tommy had no clue who they were, which actually helped because he just chatted with people without being nervous, ha! We also got to meet the race founder’s son and his family, who happen to live in North Carolina. We hung out with them a bit after the race and they were SO MUCH FUN. The running world is so big and also so small.
On race day, after I ran, and then ran the race again with Tommy, we had spots reserved to ride press truck that drives in front of the elites. It was seriously once of the coolest running experiences I’ve had. The truck was filled with family members, other elites, sports journalists, photographers and then us. I turned on my watch when the truck started rolling… and then uploaded it to Strava. I broke all sorts of PRs. 😉
It was fun to ride through Boulder and watch the crowd cheer on the elites. Some kids tried to run and keep up with the leader of the race. It was like watching a movie of how great America is.
The last quarter mile, the truck sped up ahead of the top finisher, and we all barrelled out of the truck quickly to get onto the field before the elites starting coming in. It was so fun to run onto the field RIGHT before and hear the crowd explode.
The cool thing is that I bet everyone in that stadium felt like they had a front row seat to the finish for the elite finish and the Memorial Day tribute.
It feels like they’ve thought of everything, to make the race fun and accessible to everyone. And I love that. At the press conference, the race director shared that their goal is to get as many people as possible involved in running. Some of the things they do to help encourage that:
Tommy and I are planning to run it again next year and hope we can get some of our friends and family to join us! And we’re excited to see the friends we made this year again next year!
Bolder Boulder 2020: Be sure to use code BBTH2020 when you register for $5 off!
Be sure to check out my Boulder Instagram stories highlights. I did an Instagram story at every kilometer mark when I ran the race with Tommy! And I also recorded a lot of the press conference, riding the press truck, the finish line experience and the Memorial Day tribute. Hopefully it gives you a sense for just how incredible the whole experience is!
This post was sponsored by the BolderBoulder 10K and they provided me with a free race registration. However, EVERYTHING I wrote is 100% my own opinion and feedback about the race. I absolutely LOVED it and HIGHLY recommend it!! HUGE thank you to BolderBoulder for providing such an incredible experience!!!