Triple Crown Pack Burro Races

Triple Crown Pack Burro Races

July-August
Every year, three races of pack burros and human runners take place in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The first leg of the triple crown starts in Fairplay and is held the last weekend in July. The second leg, the first weekend in August, starts in Leadville. The final race is two weeks later in Buena Vista.
The first organized pack burro races were held in 1949 along a route over Mosquito Pass between Leadville and Fairplay; in 1979, the Buena Vista race became the final leg of the triple crown. The races cover from 15 to 30 miles over 13,500-foot mountain passes, sometimes in snow, and generally take the 20 to 25 entrants three to four hours. Women run a different, shorter course than men. Contestants can't ride their burros, but must run alongside them. (They can and frequently do push the animals.) Winners of individual races get cash prizes; the total purse at Buena Vista is $5,020. The men's winner at Leadville gets $1,200.
The word burro is Spanish and means "donkey." The history of these animals in the West goes back to the Gold Rush days of the 1800s when pack burros carried great loads of machinery and supplies to mining camps. Pack burro racing is thought to have started in those times.
The race days are surrounded by a variety of activities and are now major events in the small Colorado towns. In Buena Vista, for example, there are duck races, storytellers, and gold panning. Fairplay has llama races, and Leadville holds contests in mine drilling events. There's also a triple crown outhouse race; each town in the burro triple crown stages an outhouse race, with definite rules (e.g., one member of the outhouse team must sit in the outhouse during the race wearing colored underwear and/or a bathrobe).
CONTACTS:
Leadville Boom Days Committee
P.O. Box 596
Leadville, CO 80461
719-486-1900
www.leadvilleboomdays.com
South Park Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 312
Fairplay, CO 80440
719-836-3410
www.southparkchamber.com
Buena Vista Area Chamber of Commerce
343 Hwy. 24 S.
P.O. Box 2021
Buena Vista, CO 81211
719-395-6612
www.buenavistacolorado.org
(c)