New sponsor and start/finish for Boogie’s race
Aspen’s annual Fourth of July footrace, the celebratory kick-off to the day’s festivities, will have a new title sponsor and start and finish line for the upcoming edition.
The starting gun traditionally had been fired off in front of the Boogie’s building at Cooper Avenue and Hunter Street, but the 5-mile race will now begin and finish at Rio Grande Park.
That’s according to David Houggy, executive director of the Buddy Program, which is marking its 30th anniversary in July as the event’s nonprofit beneficiary.
The Boogie’s Buddy Race also has landed the Dancing Bear Aspen as its title sponsor, Houggy said. Leonard “Boogie” Weinglass has been a longtime financial supporter of the Buddy Program, among other nonprofits. The organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year, the Bash for the Buddies, which is sponsored by Weinglass, will still be held at his Merry-Go-Ranch home, Houggy said.
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But because Weinglass closed Boogie’s Diner in spring 2015 and sold the building that houses it for $27.5 million that May, it makes more logistical sense to move the race north of Main Street, Houggy said.
“We didn’t have to move it, and it was our choice,” Houggy said. “But obviously it made sense to have it outside of his building when he was hosting the race. But in some ways it was not the best location for runners because some of them were backed up on Hunter Street near the gondola.”
By moving the start and finish to Rio Grande Park, runners won’t have to cross Main Street and preparations for the downtown parade that day can move more efficiently, he said.
But those pain-craving runners who lust for the ascent up Cemetery Lane need not fret. Aspen’s version of “Heartbreak Hill” will still be a part of the course as well as the leg of Rio Grande Trail that links runners to the climb. But instead of taking the trail under the Castle Creek Bridge and then to West Hopkins before finishing downtown, participants will run over the bridge and then meander through the West End before heading toward the finish.
“It will still be challenging,” Houggy said, noting the course will be certified by USA Track and Field.
The 5-mile race, which draws as many as 1,000 participants, will be followed that morning by the 1-mile family and canine fun/walk.
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Local officials don’t think Aspen and Pitkin County residents are taking social distancing and isolation rules seriously enough, and reiterated Monday their importance in controlling the spread of the coronavirus.