Monday, July 19, 2010

Day Thirty Five - Idaho Springs Race Day - Feelin' Good

Yesterday was the four mile Idaho Springs Race run by my burro-provider and coach, Bill Lee and his wife Carol of Laughing Valley Ranch. There were 17 racers (two of them under 15 years old). 7 women. 10 men.

Nick and I arrived early to the ranch to throw hay for the horses and llamas and see how else we could help out. City folk trying to do ranch work is a little comical, I think. But we did good! And Bill, Brad and Amber were glad to see that my fiance Nick actually exists, I think.

Anyhow, we headed down the hill and prepped the burros for the race - brushed them, saddled them, bribed them with banana peels. Then we processed through town and garnered much curiosity from onlookers, and finally made our way up to the start of Oh My God Hill.

 Thumper sniffs my crotch in preparation for the race. 

These saddles weigh 30 lbs. 

Bill and I put our heads together to saddle up Thumper. 

Thumper gives me a pre-race back-rub.

Thumper helps me tie my shoe before the race.

John Vincent's miniature donkey, Buckwheat! So cute. 

Here we are in procession formation. Beau Jo's, anyone?

Who Da Ho? I-Da-Ho! A ho with a nice ass.

Of course I was nervous. Although I had run this course already twice before with Bill, Amber, and Brad, I had never been in a real racing scenario. I couldn't sleep the night before. I forgot my Camelbak for the run. I had new running shoes. And shorts. And a new running top.
Check out the video of the start! Can you tell who the rookie is?

The race began. Thumper was a little hesitant to go straight at first, and then he really performed. He pulled me up almost all of the uphill. He was determined to catch up with Bill and Jack - his buddies. I laughed from behind him as he pulled me up the steep grade - "Who says there are no free rides in burro racing!?"

Amber and I were neck in neck for much of the downhill - Stormy and Thumper were feeding off of each other - good for Thumper to keep him going and good for Stormy because she has a tendency to get a little out of control. We reached the steepest driveway in the world (part of the course), and again, Thumper pulled me up. He was being such a good boy.

But when it came to the downhill, he was lagging. I couldn't convince him to go much faster than my jogging pace from in front. I was tempted to run him from behind, but my scraped elbows and thighs reminded me why that was not a good idea. My frustration was mounting, and Thumper felt it. As soon as I became impatient, he started acting more like an ass - stopping, turning around, dodging my guiding hands, slowing to a painful crawl. Soon I was being passed by all of the people I had been in front of for nearly the entire race.

On the last stretch - the spot I had hoped for a photo finish with hair blowing, Bethany and Thumper in perfect harmony cantering through the finish line, Thumper would barely go straight, much less run for me. Alas. 

But I finished! I got 5th place for the women, which earned me a free lunch at Two Brothers Deli in Idaho Springs (DELICIOUS!). And it wasn't bad for my first race.

Waterfall. Cliff. American flag. Colorado flag! Sounds like burro-racin'!

Thumper deserves kisses after his race!

Award time!

Race-day Lessons Learned:
  • Burros can sense your frustration. Stay calm.
  • Burros are motivated by other burros. Stay with other burros.
  • Have fun! You just spent an hour exercising in the sun with a beautiful animal. 
I got to meet two of the sport's most notable women: Barb Dolan and Karen Thorpe (who happens to be friends with my first grade teacher, the good-things-come-in-small-packages Sue Armijo), as well as chat with a host of other burro-racers and enthusiasts. Plus I got to meet Amber and Brad Wann's adorable daughters (including 8-yr old Bonnie, who commandeered Thumper for much of the day). And I got to spend time with my lovely tall-dark-and-handsome, Nick, who sponsored my entrance fee, acted as paparazzi, and was rewarded with lunch at Two Brothers Deli. :)

All in all, it was five-star day. And as my Uncle Bob says, it sure beats work.


  1. Way to go Bethany - great entree for next week. David

  2. Thanks for sharing all this. I am going to Fairplay to watch the races for the first time this year. Good luck!

  3. My daughter Sam was there in Idaho springs. 12 years old. She finished in 1 hour. She was encouraged by all , thanks again she loved it. Nice job in fair play.