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The story of how friends Steve Hirschhorn and Theron Hreno won this week’s Boulder Rocks! contest started when both were students at the University of Colorado.

“We lived on the same dorm floor at CU, in 2001,” said Hreno, 28.

“I remember sitting in class looking at the Colorado Daily, at the clues, trying to figure it out,” said Hirschhorn, 27.

Ten years later and no longer students – Hirschhorn works at tech company Giveo; Hreno works for Mile High Organics – they seek out the rock on their lunch breaks.

“We’ve had some close calls,” Hirschhorn said.

“When it was in the grill chimney behind Chautauqua Auditorium last year, we’d looked there the week before,” Hreno said. “And I said to Steve, ‘oh, that would be a perfect place for the rock.'”

This year, the Thursday clue, “At least I’m among friends,” tipped them off that they were on the right track on Wednesday when they began to suspect the rock was near 303 Vodka and Redstone Meadery.

“I went one way up the pathway, Steve went the other, and five minutes later, Steve was like, ‘Dude, I found it!'” Hreno said.

“There was another woman there, too,” Hirschhorn said.

“There were a few people,” Hreno said.

“But the way it was hidden, it was in the Goose Creek area,” Hirschhorn said. “She was on a bike, going up and down the bike path looking for it, and I was in the weeds looking for it.”

“Someone was saying, ‘What if I got bit by a rattlesnake?’ Well, I’d be calling you guys up,” Hirschhorn said. Both laughed. “We don’t care, we’re hard core, we want to find it,” Hreno said. After years of hunting for the rock, Hreno said he was surprised they found it so quickly after beginning their lunchtime search on Thursday.

“I can’t tell you the number of hours we’ve wasted – not wasted, expended, looking for it in the past,” he said.

“It’s so much fun,” he said. “It’s a little maddening. You always wonder if someone’s found it and hasn’t reported it yet. So I told him, ‘We have to report this right away.'”

Beyond fun, finding the rock earned the friends $500 to split. Neither had given much thought to how to spend it, though.

“We just bought Great American Beer Festival tickets today, so it’ll go towards paying that off,” said Hreno speculatively.”We owe dues on our fantasy baseball team that we manage together, so we’ll pay that off.” “Just like anyone else, you win something and the money’s already spoken for.”

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