Highlights from

The Herald Democrat

50 Years Ago


Burro Racer Steve Mathews, Burro Charley Brown in 1st

Monday, August 9, 1971


Boy are we tired! Everybody is tired but happy and satisfied Boom Days is now history, but pleasant history. Leadville had its summer celebration this past Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and it seemed as tho almost everybody in Leadville turned out for it, in addition to thousands of visitors from all over the state and from many other states as well.

We’ll attempt to give you a rundown of many of the events in this issue of the Herald, but there’ll be more tomorrow. Space does not allow the presentation of more than a fraction of the 29 rolls of film which were taken; time did not allow the gathering of all of the information on various winners in the many events — but we’ll get them gathered and bring them all to you.

The big event, of course, was the burro race yesterday — and it was a dandy. Steve Mathews of Denver won back the Leadville burro racing title that he relinquished to Joe Glavinick last year.

Steve Mathews and his burro, Charley Brown, won easily in an unofficial time of two hours, 25 minutes, 27.4 seconds to beat the next two finishers by about seven minutes. Mathews, a distance runner, was in good condition as he crossed the finish line to the cheers of thousands who lined the avenue. Mathews, sponsored by Dr. Allen Watts, was awarded the prize of $800, with an additional $100 going to Dr. Watts as the winning racer’s sponsor.

Coming in second place was former winner Carl Lee of Fort Collins racing Little Jack, who with Lee has finished in the money many times. Just a step behind Carl Lee was Lee Courkamp and Rusty of Arvada. Courkamp won the Fairplay-Breckenridge race several weeks ago, just a step ahead of Mathews.

Coming in as a fourth place winner was Joe Glavinick racing Ringo. Joe had a bit of trouble with Ringo and wasn’t able to set the pace which he normally does in a burro race.

In fifth place was John Wilson of Fort Collins racing Possum. Wilson finished third in last year’s race. Sixth was perennial competitor Dr. Allen Watts with Jack. Watts was also the sponsor of Mathews and Courkamp. Bob Campbell of Denver, also a many-time participant, won seven place racing Banjo. In eighth place was Rex Harnish of Buena Vista with Mosquito. Harnish was the first racer to finish who had never participated in a burro race before, and so he was awarded an additional $100.

The ninth place finisher was Paul Reierson of Westminster racing Dusty, while the last winner was 16-year-old Susan Forbes of Poncha Springs racing Grasshopper. She was the youngest contestant in the race.

In eleventh place was Buck Swannack of Del Monte, California with Sapphire. Swannack is a marathon runner and a marathon swimmer. He had considerable trouble with his burro.

Coming in 12th and last place was 63-year-old Walt Stack of San Francisco, who also had a lot of trouble with his burro and also lost the trail.

Dropping out of the race were George Carter and 73-year-old Rudy Fahl. Rudy, the oldest person to begin the race, pulled the Achilles tendon in his heel and began the race with a swollen and taped foot. In addition, he had trouble with his burro, and also with his pack. He was a game competitor, and stated that he would be back next year. Fahl will not be able to enter next Sunday’s Pikes Peak marathon because of his injury, missing it for the first time in 15 years.

Larry Lewis, 104-year-old resident of San Francisco, who had planned to enter was forced to pass up the race because of the serious illness of his 78-year-old wife.

The checks of the race were presented to the racers at an awards dinner at the Cloud City last evening. This was the first time such an awards dinner and presentation was held. During the course of the dinner, a critique on the handling of the race was conducted. All of the racers were unanimous in their opinion that this was the best course ever and should be continued unchanged.

There were some areas in which procedures could have been improved — trail marking, trail judges, vehicles on the trail, etc. In the main, however, the race was well conducted and everyone seemed to be well satisfied. Watts said he would be bringing seven racers next year.

The question was considered of the possibility of going back with Fairplay on a jointly conducted race over Mosquito Pass, and the feeling seemed to be that the present conduct of the race and its route over 21.1 miles was just about the answer.

The race was begun by a visitor from Davenport, Iowa, who was passing through Leadville and stopped by the Raiders and asked to perform this official function.

The burro race this year was begun in a different fashion than ever before. The racers drew numbers for position. The burros were tied to parking meters further up the avenue — odd numbers on one side, even numbers on the other. At the sound of the gun, the racers ran from the starting line in front of the courthouse to their burros, untied the rope and took off up East Seventh Street.

The weather for the race and for the entire weekend was perfect, with the high temperature being 71, clear skies and not a drop of rain.

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