Independence Day in the Four Corners offers a smorgasbord of racing events to choose from. This year, I decided to participate in one of the oldest races held on this holiday, the Silverton Blue Ribbon 10K.
Thirty-three years ago, a group of Silverton runners decided to create a race with the prize being a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. That was the first of what would become the annual Silverton Blue Ribbon 10K, a mainstay of the town’s many popular Fourth of July holiday events.
Within the last 10 years, the race has seen some changes to the original course as well as the addition of 2K and 5K distances, but it continues to attract runners from all over.
Race coordinator Julie Danjou, along with a dedicated group of volunteers, has been actively helping with this event for the last five years. She works for the Silverton Youth Center, which is the main beneficiary of the race proceeds.
Recently, the start time for the race was moved up to 7:30 a.m.
“When the race started at 8, we were always running into the parade,” said Danjou “This is a very tight-knit community. We all work together and volunteer. A few of our people are also in the parade, so I made the start earlier, and no one seemed to complain.”
Neither the early start time nor the elevation deterred this crowd of more than 100 runners, many traveling a long distance to participate in the race and enjoy the other holiday festivities.
Durango local Mary Katherine, who ran the 5K this year, has participated in this race about 10 times during her 33-year residence.
“It’s kind of a Fourth of July tradition,” Katherine said. “Although I didn’t make it for a few years due to knee surgery, while I was out there (running), I thought, “this is fantastic.” I think I’ll come out again next year.”
Fort Lewis College cross country runner Joe Brenner came out for the first time to run the 10K race.
“It was a beautiful course,” Brenner said. “Running down by the river was incredible – a little hilly but not bad. I definitely noticed the altitude. That hill at the beginning was rough and the hill at the end, too.”
For 73-year-old Steve Stovall, it was his first time running this race. After the race he said, “Today I feel 90; next time, I might do the 5K instead. I have been running for 43 years, and that is the hardest 10K I have ever done.”
The altitude and terrain proved challenging for Stovall.
“I am not a trail runner; I am an old man, and I shuffle my feet, so I tripped and stepped on rocks and, of course, the 10,000-foot elevation (made it tough). The whole thing was a humbling experience.”
Although Stovall’s favorite distance is 5K, he plans to run the Durango United Way 10K in September.
“That’s kind of my Olympics,” he said. “I figure if I can do this race, then I can do that.”
Danjou already is looking forward to next year’s event.
“I enjoy getting everything and everyone together and watching that first person come across the finish line. I just think it is awesome,” she said.
Reach Marjorie Brinton at email@example.com.