If you’re unfamiliar with pack burro racing, you’re not alone. Think of it like horse racing, but instead of riding the animal, you take it on a trail run. There’s never been a better time to get into the sport, as runners and their donkeys meet this weekend at the World Championship Pack Burro Race.
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The annual Fairplay, Colorado event sees nearly 100 racing teams, including a donkey and a handler. There are two different courses, with one route going about 15 miles, while others will choose the nearly 30-mile route that climbs 3,232 feet at its peak.
Check out this video of a similar event:
In an Instagram video, a woman says she recently moved to Colorado and quickly became immersed in the sport. She offers some tips, which include the training process, the need to wear gloves, and finally, this golden nugget: “The most helpful piece of information I can give is that this is the burros race, not yours. This means you should be prepared to run fast AND to walk the whole thing.”
While this weekend’s race may be the highlight of the summer for burro racers, separate events go on throughout the warmer months and has a long history in Colorado. The origins go back to the state’s mining days and how vital the animals were in helping get supplies in and out of the mountainous region.
The World Championship Pack Burro Race has existed for over 70 years. Organizers say the first official event was in 1949, and 21 teams entered the race, with only eight finishing.
The burros wear a saddle on their backs, but it’s against the rules for the person running to ride the animal. However, funny enough, people can carry the donkey, if needed.