Purple Runner Cross Country History

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This article originally was posted in 2006 by By P. J. Christman, Author of the book, The Purple Runner.

Back somewhere in the Boulder Ice Age, perhaps 1993, Conrad Truedson and I decided that it would be good to have a cross country course upon which interested parties could run each week for free, somewhat like the Fresh Pond 5M or 2.5M every Saturday in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I figured a run from the Boulder Reservoir shack near IBM out and back, below and above the Res, would be about 5K. Conrad got out his wheel, and including the climb over the small volcano just before the 1M mark, 5K the distance indeed was.

When we began, we’d usually get five or six people trying to burn off a hangover or too cheap to pay the $15-20 fee for races along the Front Range. Nobody really good ever ran our course that I remember, though some second-tier sorts who are good regional or fair national runners did turn up incognito from time to time. As long as we didn’t charge admission, the city didn’t seem to object.

Eventually, both Conrad and I slowed down from our already tepid paces, and Conrad moved to Nottingham, England to study math. Sort of a beautiful, eccentric mind fooling around with all those equations you see math wizards writing on blackboards like in Good Will Hunting. Fortunately, however, by then we had hooked a few perennial types like Woody and Lorraine Green, who carried on with the organization of the Saturday morning turf events, added a second venue (the former quarry), and created a website (updated) Boulderpurplerunner.weebly.com.

The start of the Boulder Purple Runner series

The name Purple Runner eventually evolved from the eponymous novel and the fact that I had co-founded the race. So I’ll go to my grave knowing Conrad and I kept a few harriers semi-fit by creating what turned out to be an ongoing opportunity for free “racing”.


– Paul Christman

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