Nike High Altitude Challenge T-Shirt

Recently Nike released a High Altitude Men’s T-shirt which touts it “pays tribute to a classic sporting event” held in Boulder, CO. I was curious about the event and its history so I reached out to the Boulder Road Runner founder and race director for the “High Altitude Challenge Race” Rich Castro.

“The Nike High Altitude Challenge was conceived as a way of bringing America’s top athletes to Boulder and expose them to altitude training prior to the Olympic Sports Festival that was held in Colorado Springs that summer. The official date was Saturday May 12, 1979 and the 6.7 mile course was around the Frasier Meadows neighborhood finishing over by Flatirons Athletic Club,” stated Castro.

Herb Lindsay won that year, “cruising” by the 10k mark in 29:20. Since the race was 6.7 miles, in a newspaper article Castro commented on that split to give folks a reference so they could relate to the pace.

Also according the newspaper accounts it was quite the field as it was originally by invitation only and you had to run 32 minutes or better and included guys like Mark Nenow, Don Kardong, Kirk Pfeffer among others.

Interestingly the first Bolder Boulder was held 15 days later, May 27th at 3 PM.

The design Nike is duplicating was last used on September 12, 1984 while the event continued until at least 1985. The t-shirt is available through the Finish Line.com and would be a great gift for any running fan.

Original High Altitude Challenge T-shirt

The original shirt design is seen here as part of a large quilt done by the Boulder Road Runners, presented to Castro at the club’s 25th anniversary. Photo courtesy of Rich Castro