The course for the professional field in the 2016 BolderBOULDER will have a new start line, just down the hill from the race finish in Folsom Stadium with the main goal to allow a larger audience to watch more of the pro race. The larger crowds will build much more excitement around the overall race as spectators can now cheer on late finishers as they grind up Folsom hill. As an added bonus, runners/walkers in the later waves will actually share Folsom Street with the pros: Participants will be heading south toward the stadium while the pros head north on the other side of the divider.
This harkens back to criterium style course the pro race featured about 10 years ago which started in the stadium, circled around Folsom then finished back in the Stadium. In 2005 Clint Wells finished as the first American in the International Team Challenge on that course and commented about this year’s change of the start line,
“I like the idea of the Folsom start. With all the citizens still hanging around folsom stadium after their races, I can see thousands lining the streets for the start of the elite race creating a much more exciting atmosphere and start for those competing. I think this will be a preference for both competitors and fans.”
On the new course, the pros will set off north on Folsom, beginning at bottom of the hill near Taft Street and rejoin the citizen’s course around the 2k mark.
BolderBOULDER’s Pro Athlete Coordinator Don Janicki thinks there are a number of benefits from the change, with spectator benefit on top of his list.
“I think the main benefit is fan viewership. The past start was somewhat anticlimactic; the pro runners were warming up while crews were breaking down the start,” he says. “Moving closer to the stadium will bring more fans to the watch the start and create some electricity. We believe spectators along Folsom Street will likely stay longer to cheer the pros at the start – with the added benefit of more motivation for citizens finishing in the later waves.”
Among those who will compete on the new pro course is Mattie Suver, last year’s top American woman in the pro race, and 8th overall. Returning to the BolderBOULDER as part of Team USA, she’s enthusiastic for what she thinks will be a more festive and motivational atmosphere. “I am really looking forward to the course change,” says Suver. “My favorite part of the old BB course was always the finishing stretch up Folsom hill and into the stadium. The fans get me really pumped up along that stretch, so I think starting by the stadium will set the tone for an even more exciting race from the beginning to end, for both the elites and the spectators!”
Joining Suver on Team USA is first time BolderBoulder participant Alia Gray. Alia just ran a personal best in the 10k making the Olympic Trials qualifying mark.
“As far as I can see with the course, it seems like it will improve the spectator experience, which in my opinion should improve the competitor’s experience. The first mile or so looks decently technical, so I’ll be sure to do my homework before going into the race blindly, but I think it should be a good ride for everyone involved.”
The proximity to Folsom Stadium is another aspect of the change expected to improve the experience for pros and spectators. The pros should gain further motivation from the deafening roar of the stadium crowd as they prepare to start. Spectators who’ve been watching the tens of thousands of runners, joggers and walkers pour into the stadium, will then also have the option to quickly head out to watch the start before returning to watch the pro race on the big screens inside the stadium. The entire pro race will again be televised inside Folsom Stadium on the large video boards.
Another benefit to the change according to Race Director Cliff Bosley, is not about the runners or spectators, but the town itself. Traffic on 28th street, one of Boulder’s main north/south thoroughfares, will reopen before 11am, over an hour earlier than previous years.