Time for a Bolder Bolder Boulder

There I was, on the home stretch of the Bolder Boulder, pounding down Folsom Street (read: jogging at an exhausted pace barely faster than a walk), endorphins ramping up for final push over the last hill. Then I heard it, blasting from a loudspeaker at a gas station: “Always have to steal my kisses from you…”

With one chorus of his soothing 1999 hit, Ben Harper hadn’t just stolen my kisses, he’d stolen my will to live. It was a miracle I made it to the finish line in Folsom Field. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate Harper’s rootsy and tranquil steel guitar doodling, especially if I’m, say, sitting around smoking something illegal. But while running 10 kilometers on an 85-degree day? No thanks — pass the Pantera.

The Bolder Boulder is a great road race because it’s one long party. This year’s 50,000 or so participants (including one who became the first casualty in event’s long career) are cheered on each step of the way by every kind of entertainment imaginable. Unfortunately, the last place many of those diversions belong is at a road race. As a courtesy to next year’s race planners, here’s my take on a few of the event’s hits and misses:

Bolder Boulder (race-side elements we should have more of)

The belly dancers at Folsom and Bluff streets: All that tummy gyrating is motivating in a naughty way, even though it is so distracting you may run off the road into a drainage ditch.

The middle school band mangling Guns N’ Roses on Pearl Street: Yes, you played the opening riff to “Sweet Child O’ Mine” about four times too many, but in my book, you can play those sweet, kick-ass chords all day long.

The bagpipes and high school pep band at Folsom Stadium: Is there anything more motivating than bagpipes and a drumline? Hell, they should just line the entire race with pipers and marching bands. Every racer’s time will be cut by five minutes, guaranteed.

Colder Boulder (race-side elements we can do without)

The fake Blue Brothers at 30th and Pearl Streets: Sure, “Soul Man” is an inspiring tune, but seeing that fat, sweaty guy impersonate a pre-overdose John Belushi made me want to vomit and cry at the same time.

The guy blowing cigarette smoke into the runner at 15th and Pearl streets: Dude, I was going to clothesline you on my way past, but I decided you’d be dying of lung cancer soon enough anyway.

The party on Walnut Street grilling bacon on the side of the road: Hee-hee, you thought it was sooo funny to inundate queasy and cramp-ridden runners with the smell of burning pig flesh. Oh wait, one of those runners snapped and rammed your stupid-ass face onto the searing grate of your grill? Jokes on you!

All of the bands playing bluegrass, funk-infused folk, acoustic pop and other cruddy jam music: Since none of your lazy, smelly, noodle-dancing fans have ever managed to get up in time for and run in the Bolder Boulder, go back to Telluride where you belong. – Joel Warner

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner