Roger Marolt: Happiness is running all the way to the bank |

Roger Marolt: Happiness is running all the way to the bank

When someone in Aspen asks, “What do you do?” it is a trickier question than it would be in other places. The question could be part of a local psychological evaluation and might be an accurate predictor of how you will vote in an upcoming city election.

If the answer that jumps to your mind has something to do with work, you might be more inclined to believe town needs more hotels and a straight-shot alignment of the highway at the entrance to town to get more people to them more quickly.

On the other hand, if your answer has more to do with your workout than your work like, “Oh, I don’t know. I race in the local cycling club races and play quite a bit of tennis,” then you might lean toward protecting open space and view planes.

The question is definitely loaded in this place that values both kinds of fitness about equally. If you happen to be both fiscally and physically fit, I am sure it kind of puts you on the spot when somebody asks this question. How awkward. My heart goes out to you.

The funny thing is that the building of wealth and a high VO2 max come with basically the same instruction manual: Work your butt off, literally in one sense and figuratively in the other. Protect the gains you have achieved. Show the results off whenever possible. Not incidentally, bulging wallets and muscles are enhanced underneath a slim-fitting Lululemon ensemble.

I suppose the old saying about money — either you have none or not enough — is just as true about the time you have to go hiking. You look around town and are hard-pressed to find anyone who is not obsessed to some degree about one or the other, or both, in many cases. So rare is the person who seems not to care too much about either, that we tend to label that person as “wise.” If you are completely oblivious about both, you might even be pegged as “spiritual.”

Despite the similarities in the quest for money and fitness, it is strange that people, in their maniacal obsession for one, only see the vanity of pursuit in those going after the other.

There are the wealthy who, between scoping out deals on potential real estate investments, see people running up Aspen Mountain in the middle of the day during prime working hours and think, “Don’t these people know that retirement is going to be hell without any money set aside for it?” On the other side, the ones doing yoga in the park see softer people in pressed pants hustling by and remark, “What good is all the money they make going to do when they get older and so out of shape that they won’t be able to walk around the block?”

Even balance in life is perceived differently. One group believes you find it on a slack line or in a handstand and the other finds it in a perfectly executed checking account reconciliation.

The sometimes apparent angst between the groups is not anything new. I have wondered if its roots are in jealousy or intolerance. Are the people who are proud that they have worked hard enough to wear the same size pants that they did in high school envious of the people who are proud that they have worked so hard that they can send their kids to private high schools, and vise-versa? Or, does each group just think the other group is a pack of clueless fools?

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of people in Aspen who have found a comfortable balance between wealth and fitness. They don’t care much about either. They are the ones not wearing a Rolex or a fitness watch. These people are called “partiers.” Their primary focus is to have a good time.

Many years ago, when I was young, we called them the “vampire society.” I don’t actually know if it still exists, because there are far fewer nightclubs in town and I rarely stay out past 10 anymore. What I remember is that you could find them at the hot spots every single night, beginning sometime around 11. The thing was, you never saw them around town in the daylight. When the sun was up, you wondered if you only imagined them the night before. You never had the chance to know if they were envious or jealous of anyone. Unfortunately, I think a lot of them ended up focusing on rehab. I guess at least their addictions were obvious.

Roger Marolt aspires to run faster in the best Nikes. Email at

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