On the Run: Big K cola and the Dalai Lama | AspenTimes.com

On the Run: Big K cola and the Dalai Lama

CARBONDALE ” The 16.5-mile Mount Sopris Runoff, which starts at the 7-Eleven in Basalt and finishes at Mountain Fair in Carbondale, was held this past Saturday ” though one could have mistaken it for 1988, or even 1978, the year it began.

There is nothing modern or highfalutin about this race. To start, there’s no prerace ceremony. And there certainly are no peeled fruits and baked treats waiting at the finish line.

Instead, finishers are greeted by a tub full of Big K colas ” the sugar and diet versions ” as well as a cooler full of water.

Entry fees don’t benefit a local nonprofit organization. Rather, participants make their checks to the order of Bruce Gabow, the race’s director. As in years past, Gabow was at the starting line Saturday going over details of the course with the runners. However, just before the race started, he announced he would not be on hand for the post-run festivities.

“I’ll be at the Dalai Lama,” he said, noting that one of his volunteers would fill his spot.

Gabow never counts on a lot of runners to participate, unlike the Strawberry Days race in Glenwood or the Boogie’s Buddy 5-Mile and Race for the Cure in Aspen, which draw close to 1,000 participants on a good year. Saturday’s Runoff saw 48 finishers.

You’ll never see an overflow of extra T-shirts from the event either. That’s because Gabow has a long-standing arrangement with the maker of the race T-shirts. Once the race starts he calls the printer to place an order for a specific number of shirts. The race is long enough that the T-shirts are printed while it’s happening, and they’re made available at the finish area.

Suffice to say, Gabow operates this race on a shoestring budget, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The same can be said for a few other area foot races ” the Basalt Half Marathon and the Aspen Race Series (comprising the Downtown Mile, Aspen Summer Uphill and the Severy cross-country races) come to mind.

All are races that boast finish- and starting-lines made of chalk, and are timed with a stopwatch ” not a computer. And the race director is typically on hand at the end to congratulate the finishers, unless he’s attending a speech by a spiritual leader.

We should only be so lucky that these races stick around, provided they don’t change a thing.


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