Arturo Barrios, right, greets Francisco Pacheco after the 1986 Bolder Boulder, the first of Barrios’ four race victories.
Arturo Barrios, right, greets Francisco Pacheco after the 1986 Bolder Boulder, the first of Barrios' four race victories. (Carnegie Branch Library for Local History)
If you go

What: Bolder Boulder Memories: Photos and Stories from the Boulder Daily Camera Collection

Where: Carnegie Branch Library for Local History, 1125 Pine St.

More info: boulderlibrary.org/carnegie or 303-441-3110

Sometimes it takes a perceived slight, whether intended or not, to motivate an athlete.

Such was the case, it appears, at the inaugural Bolder Boulder 10K, I discovered Monday while viewing a new race exhibit at the Carnegie branch of the Boulder Public Library.

Included in the tidy and informative collection of roughly 20 items from the Carnegie's vast collection of Daily Camera archives -- which number more than 4 million items -- is a photo copy of the Camera preview article from May 27, 1979, the day before the inaugural Bolder Boulder.

Written by then-assistant sports editor Gary Burns, it opens with race founder and Bank of Boulder then-president Steve Bosley pinning a button on the T-shirt of Ric Rojas, one of the many talented, fast and tough runners then living and training in town.

The pre-race buttons Bosley had made up read:

"I raced Frank Shorter. And lost."

Talk about putting the horse before the buggy, or the winner before the race is run. One nice aspect of running is that races are won on the road, trails or track, not on reputations, even though Bosley's prediction made sense.

Shorter, his good friend, was the former American record holder in the 10,000 meters and an Olympic marathon gold and silver medalist. He had given Bosley the idea for putting on a road race and was then at the height of his reputation.

Wynn Vaughn heads down 30th Street during an early Bolder Boulder 10K.
Wynn Vaughn heads down 30th Street during an early Bolder Boulder 10K. (Carnegie Branch Library for Local History)

Now, Shorter would be running a race in his hometown, and despite local elites such as Rojas, Ted Castaneda, Guy Arbogast and Stan Mavis, Shorter was the favorite. Burns wrote that Rojas "was smiling -- but hardly laughing" as he received his "I raced Frank Shorter. And lost" button.

That was one of the stories I picked up from the exhibit, curated by Hope Arculin, a Carnegie reference specialist.

Another was the origin of the wheelchair race. I recall warming up down 30th Street in the early years of the Bolder Boulder, cheering as the wheelchair racers started shortly before the mass of runners.

Arculin researched the history of the wheelchair racers and includes two photos, one of Wynn Vaughn, who was instrumental in drawing attention to the needs of those in wheelchairs. His efforts paid off when, in 1991, Bosley gave the wheelchair athletes a race of their own. The Bolder Boulder continues paying prize money and travel expenses for wheelchair racers.

"It was a lot of fun," Arculin, a runner who has worked at Carnegie for about a year, said Monday of putting together the exhibit. "Not living around here for a long time, I was learning some of the little stories."

What were her favorites?

"Heroes like (Portuguese Olympic marathon gold medalist) Rosa Mota, and how she won the race five times," Arculin said. "She ended up moving here and was everyone's hero."

Mike Sandrock
Mike Sandrock

I picked up another new story when Arculin asked, "Did you know that Rosa called Melody Fairchild from Portugal the morning of Melody's third win? Long-distance calls were not as easy to make as they are now."

A nice photo of Fairchild signing autographs for some junior high school fans is included in the exhibit, as are photos of elites such as Jill Hunter and Delilah Asiago in the chute after placing 1-2 in the 1991 race; Longmont's Arturo Barrios after his 1986 Bolder win; and Kenyan Thomas Osano breaking Barrios' course record.

Arculin also selected a photo of Shorter's 1981 victory, when he did win his hometown race as he neared the end of his competitive career.

"I think she did a great job," said Wendy Hall, Carnegie's branch manager. "Part of our mission is to provide outreach and to educate the community about the materials in our collection."

Boulder newcomers can learn some of the Bolder Boulder history at the Carnegie exhibit, while for longtime locals, the exhibit is a chance to remember some of the greats who have passed through city streets during the past 34 years, as well as the history of the course changes.

Burns ended his 1979 preview with a prescient quote from Rojas, who said: "This race has much potential to become one of the best in the future. But that takes time."

Oh, and how did that first Bolder Boulder turn out? Roughly 2,200 runners made it to the finish in North Boulder Park, with Rojas clocking 29 minutes, 43 seconds and beating Shorter by a couple of blocks. Nothing in the Carnegie archives on whether Bosley made up a new button for the winner.