FORT COLLINS, COLO. (September 3, 2018) — Doing it once, it’s a holiday celebration. Doing it twice makes it a Labor Day tradition.

That’s the way Chandra Bailey of Fort Collins and her family saw the FORTitude 10K road race Monday that brought more than 6,000 runners and walkers to the leafy streets of Fort Collins and finished at Canvas Stadium, the football home of the Colorado State Rams.

The race is a second-year sibling to the Bolder Boulder, staged by Bolder Boulder organizers on the same template. As the Bolder Bolder finishes on the University of Colorado’s football field on Memorial Day, FORTitude finishes on CSU’s on Labor Day. And as the Bolder Boulder honors military veterans with a post-race Memorial Day observance, FORTitude honors first responders.

“It’s important to show our kids a healthy, fun activity,” said Bailey, 45, whose husband, Barry, played basketball for the Rams in the 1980s. “You can walk, you don’t have to run, but this can be fun. As a kid, I thought, ‘A run, how can that be fun?’ My son said this morning, ‘I didn’t know a run could be so much fun; it’s like a party.’ ”

Kim Anderson of Frederick and her 13-year-old daughter, Ryley, also ran the race both years. “We’re trying to make it a tradition,” said Anderson, 41.

“To see this community just jump on board, it’s a really awesome experience. I think I could have run for another 10 miles, it was so great. Perfect day.”

Runners like the course because it’s relatively flat and “fast,” with much of the route shaded by trees. “There’s one kind of baby hill, but nothing crazy,” said AnnMarie Kirkpatrick of Fort Collins, who won the women’s pro race. “It’s just a big Labor Day party, really. I think my favorite way to celebrate any holiday is to get up, run a race and then enjoy the rest of the day.”

The citizen’s race was won by Andrew Epperson, an assistant track and cross country coach at CSU. He loves the way the race showcases Fort Collins — especially its charms for runners. Andrew Epperson, the assistant cross country and track and field coach at CSU, leads the pack in the citizens race. The FORTitude 10k race winds its way through the streets near the Colorado State University campus on September 3, 2018 in Fort Collins. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Denver Post) “It’s so great to run here,” Epperson said. “Here in Fort Collins, you can run very fast. The community has really taken ahold of it and made it their own. It’s just going to continue to get better.”

As is often the case with the Bolder Boulder, Monday’s post-race ceremonies had a solemn tone. A moment of silence for three Colorado law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty since New Year’s Eve — Douglas County Deputy Zackari Parrish, Adams County Deputy Heath Gumm and El Paso County Deputy Micah Flick — was punctuated by the playing of “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes. Race organizers and their sponsors donated six enhanced armor vests to the CSU campus police in conjunction with Shield 616, a group that works to supply first responders with advanced active-shooter armor that provides more protection than the “soft vests” officers typically wear. “That vest is designed to stop handgun calibers,” explained Shield 616 founder Jake Skifstad. “It’s going to do nothing against a rifle caliber. We want to make sure these guys can put on this gear rapidly if the situation warrants it. It’s the best of the best. They are the best of the best, they deserve it.”

The Denver Post
John Meyer, Outdoors Writer