Postcard: Burro racing in Idaho Springs, CO

Burro racing might be the greatest sport the world has never heard of. I covered some races back when I worked for a newspaper (the sport’s epicenter is in Colorado), and always found the scene to be hilarious. Last month, I got involved firsthand in Idaho Springs, during the annual Tommyknocker Mining Days festival. A power-hungry donkey named Marsha and I ran five miles through the hills above Clear Creek, fighting for control the whole time, before finishing back in town and rewarding ourselves with carrots (her) and beer (me). There is nothing else like it. In this photo, taken shortly before the start, a handful of our foes readied themselves for the race to come.

Photo by Devon O’Neil

2 thoughts on “Postcard: Burro racing in Idaho Springs, CO”

  1. (pack) burro racing is a Colorado original. in past years there was an attempt to form a circuit of burro racing here in Arizona, the safford area, but it fizzled out…..the racing is both comical and serious. comical in that the runner has to often time coax the beast to speed up the run, or sometimes the burro with an independent mind speeds up faster than the runner creating a good specimen of road rash on the runner. one of the better known runners is a baby boomer my age named Curtis imrie in Buena vista. I met him thru the b.l.m. wild horse and burro adoptions. he has adopted numerous wild burros to put stamina and other wild range attributes in his racing steeds! I adopted a wild burro for a great hiking and pack animal. here’s hoping the sport never goes extinct!

  2. burro racing was “big” back in the ’60’s! friend of mine named Steve Matthews (a competent marathoner) often won the Fairplay-to-Leadville (course reversed every year). big festival for both towns, $$$ wagered (winner got $1k — somewhat big dinero in those daze).

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