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After long-awaited return, Bolder Boulder looks to 2023

Race director Cliff Bosley reports 34,224 registrants at race reboot

BOULDER CO-May 30: A happy group, unknown  runner, Amy Duba, Val Rubio Meza, and Laura Wirfs, finish their Bolder Boulder at the 2022 Bolder Boulder 10K on May 30, 2022. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
BOULDER CO-May 30: A happy group, unknown runner, Amy Duba, Val Rubio Meza, and Laura Wirfs, finish their Bolder Boulder at the 2022 Bolder Boulder 10K on May 30, 2022. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
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Aliphine Tuliamuk had just won the women’s professional race at the 42nd annual Bolder Boulder, becoming the first American to do so since 2006, when she had a small request for race organizers as they begin brainstorming for 2023.

“You guys have to speak to the god of wind next year so we can actually see the skydivers,” Tuliamuk said. “I want to see that.”

The skydivers, long a fixture at the Bolder Boulder’s post-race Memorial Day festivities, had to be canceled at the 11th hour on Monday because of windy conditions. Yet that proved to be the only minor hiccup as the annual holiday extravaganza re-launched after being on pause since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Race organizers typically hit the ground running immediately after each Bolder Boulder in anticipation of making the following year’s event bigger, bolder and even more entertaining. Yet after having the race canceled in 2020 for the first time since its 1979 inception, and then being forced to the sideline again in 2021, the reboot likely will remain a work in progress as the Bolder Boulder attempts to continue its return to normalcy in 2023.

“When COVID hit, it was like a light got switched off,” race director Cliff Bosley said. “It was there, and then it wasn’t.”

On Tuesday, Bosley told the Daily Camera the entry total stood at 34,224, a drop of about 28% from the previous Bolder Boulder in 2019. That number could be updated in the coming days, but any change would be minor. Each of the 12 Bolder Boulders prior to 2019 drew at least 49,000 entries, with 10 of those 12 topping 50,000. Monday’s total was the lowest registration total since 1991 (31,103).

While the entry numbers dipped, it wasn’t out of line with a national trend within the industry as runners, the elite and casual alike, slowly emerge from two years of quarantine restrictions. (“We’re under-raced,” American pro Jared Ward said of the state of competitive running following the Bolder Boulder.) The Colfax Marathon experienced a similar dip in entries for its event almost two weeks ago, though a delayed 2021 edition of the race was held in October. And the venerable Cherry Creek Sneak, a Denver running fixture for four decades, took off for the final time last month after its first post-pandemic race experienced an insurmountable decrease in participation numbers.

Bolder Boulder organizers also dealt with a smaller production budget for 2022, requiring its staff to don, and juggle, far more hats during the post-pandemic prep. For instance, this year the Bolder Boulder did not employ a full-time media/community relations specialist, and Bosley even apologized for being a touch late to the post-race press briefing on Monday because he had to remain on the field to help get a depleted clean-up crew started on its task.

“We’ve been wearing multiple hats, so each one of us has had three, four or even five responsibilities,” Bosley said. “We had good volunteer help this year, but we only had 25 percent of what we used to to clean the stadium. I think our whole team did a really good job this year. They were kind of forged in the fire. Our team was reminded just how many details there are.”

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