The Western Pack Burro Ass-ociation (WPBA) hosted the third of a triple crown race series in Leadville Sunday.
The event’s special use permit was approved by Leadville City Council and the Board of County Commissioners on conditions of proper social distancing being practiced, participants wearing face coverings while gathered before the race and limiting the number of people allowed on site to mostly racers and race coordinators. Spectators were barred from attending.
The series, preceded by the first two legs of the circuit in Fairplay and Buena Vista, concluded its 69.1-mile total with Sunday’s race in Leadville.
The 24-mile-long course followed the four-wheel-drive road over Mosquito Pass before descending into Fairplay, where the one-way race finished. Thirty-one race teams, made up of human and burro, participated in the event.
Marvin Sandoval of Leadville and his burro Buttercup took first place with a time five hours eleven minutes.
Though it has long been a race, the Mosquito Pass route had never been hosted as part of the triple crown series. The race itself had not taken place since 1972, save for a one-off event in 1985, Brad Wann, organizer and media relations coordinator for the WPBA, said.
In re-establishing the race, Wann said the WPBA hoped to allow an outlet for racers and burros alike, and regain a sense of normalcy for the burro racing community that has lost many of its racing opportunities this year due to cancelled events, Wann said.
Starting at 6 a.m. Sunday morning, race organizers set up the staging area near the starting line on East Seventh Street in preparation to register participants and screen them for symptoms of COVID-19. Volunteers recorded racers’ temperatures as part of registration and were prepared to turn away anyone symptomatic of COVID-19.
Wann described the permitting process, and the logistics of accounting for health and safety measures to secure approval from each town that hosted one of the legs of the race as, epic.
“This was a logistical race,” he said, recounting the processes organizers for each of the three races in the series had to complete to secure permits for the events.