Bur-Rodeo Tops Expectations of Everyone!

July 14, 1969


Leadville’s First Annual Bur-Rodeo Celebration is now history—and what a celebration it was. Perhaps we are wrong but it would seem that it would be difficult to find any real complaint with the four day blast that Leadville has just gone through.

The burro race has its champion—Steve Mathews; the rodeo was an unqualified success; the parade was certainly a dandy and everything else went smoothly. The weather was near perfect with the only hangup being a brief shower at the rodeo grounds Sunday near the end of the rodeo. The Jeep was won by a gentleman from California, but the $1,000 guessing ticket on the race was won by a Leadville man—Milton Fish of the Timberline Motel.

The women’s portion of the burro race was a bit of a disappointment in that only two entrants appeared. Mrs. Jan Lucas, champion for the past four years of the women’s burro race appeared with Rocket. The other entrant was 18 year old Miss May Wichers—a member of the Denver Running Club and a Woman’s AAU track star—easily outclassed Mrs. Lucas and won her race in the time of 4 hours, 29 minutes, 26.5 seconds. Her effort represented the first time that a woman had ever actually come in before a man. The women however started the race two hours earlier.

The final tally for the men’s race was 14 entrants out of the 49 entry blanks that had actually been requested. We don’t know where the other men were, but the actual starting field was a good one. After the first mile or two the race developed into a two-burro race, with Steve Mathews and Larry Cleghorn swapping leads a number of times. Carl Lee, winner in 1967, was running a poor third.

Cleghorn was reported to be one minute, 22 seconds ahead of Mathews when the contestants circled the “Father” Dyer Monument at the top of Mosquito Pass. In the trek back down Mosquito Pass Cleghorn stumbled or slipped on a rock and was dragged some distance by his burro. He was immediately rushed to St. Vincent Hospital and treated for some time in the emergency room. Dr. Kehoe reported this morning that Cleghorn had multiple abrasions and lacerations on his left side and back, covering approximately 30 percent of his body, including a deep cut on the left side. Dr. Kehoe stated that Larry Cleghorn wanted to go home today and that there was a good possibility that he would be discharged sometime today.

Following Cleghorn's injury, Mathews had the field to himself and ran all the way to the finish line without any apparent difficulty. There of course was the problem from time to time of the burro being distracted by the crowds in various places, but these distractions were of a minor nature.

To the cheers of a large crowd at the finish line, Mathews crossed the line to win the $1,000 first prize and repeated a win that he had accomplished in 1965 and 1966. Mathews stated that he felt that this was a tougher course than the Leadville-Fairplay course because of the fact that the racers had to run up Jonny Hill, then as they cut over to Seventh Street they went down and then had to go back up again to reach the summit of the pass. After that it was all downhill again.

Mathews’ winning time was two hours, 50 minutes, 34.5 seconds. Both his burro and that of Miss Wichers are owned by Denver policeman Jerry Reynolds.

Winning the $1,000 for guessing the closest time on the race was Milton Fish, owner of the Timberline Motel here in Leadville, who guessed two hours, 50 minutes, 30.5 seconds. This $1,000 will be awarded to Fish at a time and place to be set this week.

Mathews, of Denver, who is 28, used an eight year old burro, Banjo. The 18 year old Miss Wichers ran with an eight year old burro, Muffin. This was her first burro race.

Placing second in the race, far behind Mathews, was the 1967 winner Carl Lee, 32, a sawmill employee from Bellvue, Colorado. He used his four year old burro, Little Jack.

Third was a Lakewood veterinarian, Dr. Allan Watts, 38, running with the 10 year old burro, Rusty. This was the fifth race for Dr. Watts. He finished second several years ago.

The official timer for the men’s race was Bill Skala with Charles Sinclair the backup timer. For the women was Pat Hervey and Connie Palermo was his backup timer.

Leadville Chief of Police Ed Hurst was the official starter for the race.

Traffic control for the race was about the best that has ever been seen on the trail and the trail itself was judged to be exceptionally well laid out. The weather was excellent for the entire race. The crowds lining the streets and the rodeo grounds for the finish of the race was estimated to be between 5,000 and 7,000 people.

Next year’s race will probably be on Sunday, July 12.

Bur-Rodeo Solvent

July 15, 1969


Art Silver, Bur-Rodeo Celebration Finance Chairman, announced this morning the tentative accounting of what transpired financially as the result of last week’s Bur-Rodeo Celebration.

The good news is that at the present moment the Bur-Rodeo Committee has a profit of $3. This should rise to $150 when all money is in.

As reported by Silver the Committee took in $15,482 so far and spent $15,479. It is believed that all bills are in and have been paid.

It is interesting to remember that this committee began its operations with the sum of 21 cents in the treasury—this contributed by Slim Ray.

The barbecue exhibited a profit of $390, the pancake breakfasts $324, the booklet $600 plus, the Rodeo $200 plus, the Carnival $985, Jeep sales tickets $800. There were a total of 5,300 jeep and race tickets sold. In addition, the committee received $71 from the five young people who conducted the dunking on the courthouse lawn—their contribution and donation was very much appreciated.

Silver requested that anyone who has not yet paid for their booklet ads or for chute gates to please get the money in to him. He hopes to have a final financial report by Friday.

The complete profit for the event will be banked and be used to begin committee operations and planning for next year’s celebration.

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