Dispatch: Celebrating Our Sister Sports – The Boulder Track Club

Last Friday night I had the honor of being a guest at a fundraising dinner for the Boulder Track Club (Bouldertrackclub.com).

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“Dispatch” is an online column from Triathlete Editor-at-Large Holly Bennett that will feature pro updates, industry news, happenings afield and otherwise random reports related to multi-sport. Look for “Dispatch” every Thursday on Triathlete.com.

Every now and then I like to immerse myself in “sister sport” events. You know – compete in a pure running race, camp out all day on the hill climb of a major cycling tour or even attend a swim meet. Last Friday night I had the honor of being a guest at a fundraising dinner for the Boulder Track Club (Bouldertrackclub.com), an evening of meaningful fun surrounded by fellow endurance sports aficionados. It wasn’t strictly runners in attendance – in fact my tablemates included local pro triathletes Ben Hoffman and Richie Cunningham (active BTC members), as well as former USOC Triathlete of the Year Wes Hobson. A number of industry executives and community members were also out in force to support the BTC, a group formed one year ago that has already made incredible inroads in forwarding the development of both recreational and competitive Front Range athletes. And of course the runners were there, too – most noticeably the BTC’s lean (though far from mean) Elite Team, volunteering their time as hosts and servers, welcoming everyone to enjoy a memorable night.

With three-time Australian Olympic marathoner and head coach Lee Troop at the helm, the BTC was launched in January 2012. “Growing up in Australia, I was used to a club structure with all levels of athletes,” said Troop. “When I moved to Boulder I saw that was really lacking here.” Thus the BTC was born, and a number of area triathletes have signed on to enjoy this running-focused resource.

Troop is one to dream big, and his aspirations for the BTC include growing the club into as prestigious and accomplished a group as the New York Road Runners or the Boston Athletic Association. And if what he and his team have achieved in year one is any indication, his dream is right on track. The BTC boasts Local, Elite and Development racing teams, as well as a slew of recreational runners. Beginning in 2013 they’ll reach further afield on the running spectrum with the addition of a Mountain, Ultra and Trail Group, a Youth Club for 5 to 12-year-olds and a Masters Group. Add to that the support of ambassadors Jenny Simpson (2011 1500-meter World Champion and Olympian), Mark Plaatjes (1993 Marathon World Champion and co-owner of Boulder Running Company) and Rich Castro (long-time CU coach and a legendary fixture in Boulder’s running ranks) and success in this endurance-loving area is inevitable.

The community rallied behind the BTC for Friday night’s fete, with prize donations pouring in from the likes of Simpson, Plaatjes, The Great Western, Recovery Pump, Mix1, Native Eyewear, Max Muscle Sports Nutrition of Boulder, Retul…the list goes on! Crowds were treated to a home-cooked meal courtesy of the Niwot Market, libations from the soon-to-open Fate Brewing Company, gourmet cupcakes crafted by the Monarch High School Coyote catering group and entertainment from the Funkiphino Jazz Project while they perused silent auction items, purchased raffle tickets and participated in a feisty live auction led by none other than Troop (proving him to be a swift talker as well as a speedster on his feet). But by far the highlight of the evening was the trio of guest speakers: Castro, Simpson and Plaatjes.

I was particularly enthralled with Simpson’s speech, several phrases sticking with me well beyond my final sip of Fate brew. “You can’t go out into the woods and do this on your own,” said Simpson, referring to the invaluable support of her husband, family, coaches, teammates, friends and fans in what is often viewed as an individual sport. I couldn’t help but equate her sentiment to triathlon, as it’s well known that no one reaches a finish line alone.

Simpson’s collegiate running career kicked off when she was a student at CU, and despite having traveled the world and more recently calling Colorado Springs home, the track super star plans a return to Boulder because “this is the best place to be the best athlete in our sport.”

“Boulder is a place where excellence co-exists,” continued Simpson. She then rattled off the various Olympians and World Champions in all variety of athletic endeavors (including triathlon) that lived and trained near her own stomping grounds when she studied here. “It’s a place that fosters the freedom and independence and imagination to be better than what’s come before.”

Simpson – and thousands of other athletes, including a majority of the world’s top triathletes that have at any point called Boulder home – is certainly onto something. It’s something that the BTC is working hard to nurture among local runners at all levels. And it’s something that inspired me, bright and early this morning, to head straight out the door within sight of the freshly snow-capped mountains for a brisk and beautiful winter run.

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