Get your ass over the pass! Pack burro racing has been called the official summer heritage sport in Colorado. In the early days of mining in the Rocky Mountain west, miners used burros to carry their supplies. They couldn’t ride since the animals would be laden down with goods, so they would walk, leading their donkeys, climbing steep hillsides.
In Georgetown, my little mountain town, dubbed The Silver Queen of the Rockies because silver mining was booming back in its formative years, the race has been a Memorial Day weekend tradition. Starting in historic downtown Georgetown, about fifty runners cover about eight to nine miles to the neighboring town of Empire and back. Once out of town, the path is unpaved and runs up over Empire Pass. There are prizes for the winners, a prize for the one who picks up the most trash, and lots of spectators. The runners line up and finish in front of the beautifully restored Hotel de Paris, now a museum.
Gathering before the race
And they’re off! It’s great fun to watch them head out, hoofing it down Sixth Street, the main drag in town, some pulling their reluctant beasts, some jogging to keep up. You can hear the gold pans clanging and the runners shouting encouragements.
And back again for the finish
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