Culture

Travel Spotlight: Boulder Bound

For this high-altitude, high-energy town, running is a way of life!


Take a moment to envision your perfect run. Do you picture yourself along a winding pathway by a gurgling creek? On rough mountain trails with lung-searing climbs? Maybe a soft dirt road through a grassy meadow is more your speed? Whatever your running pleasure, Boulder, Colo., offers these cardiovascular treats and more, making the little mountain city a big-time bucket-list destination.

Thanks to the high altitude and idyllic trails, Boulder has become a central stomping ground for the nation’s best runners. Pop into any of the local coffee shops or pubs and you’re likely to rub elbows with an Olympic sprinter, overhear an ultra-runner describing last weekend’s 50-miler or watch an elite athlete refuel after her morning workout.

Melody Fairchild, a word-class trail runner and coach born and raised in Boulder, says that for runners, the city is “like a buffet.” From breathtaking trails to iconic races, there’s a reason why the world’s best call Boulder home. But these earthly pleasures don’t require record-setting race times to enjoy. Runners of every speed will relish the gorgeous scenery and healthful culture of this adrenaline-addicted town.

Professional Picks

THE SUPER-FAST STRIDERS WHO HAVE GROWN ROOTS IN BOULDER SHARE THEIR FAVORITE RACES AND PLACES.

Elite mountain runner Melody Fairchild fell in love with the popular Bolder Boulder 10k at a young age. “Running the Bolder Boulder was what we all dreamed about because we got to race with the elites,” say Fairchild, who first ran the race at age 9, just a few years before she became the first high school girl in America to break 10 minutes in the 2-mile. A Memorial Day must-do, Bolder Boulder attracts nearly 50,000 runners each year. bolderboulder.com

Trading 300 days of rain for 300 days of sun was only one of the reasons ultrarunner Krissy Moehl made the move from the Pacific Northwest to Boulder. Her other impetus? Easy access to over 200 miles of challenging trails. Moehl says Bear Canyon trail is her favorite because it snakes between Green and Bear mountains, boasting incredible views coupled with smooth terrain.

Darcy Africa, who spent the last year winning the Bighorn 100 in Wyoming, the Hardrock 100 in Colorado and The Bear 100 in Utah (yup, 100 refers to miles!), cited the Mesa Trail as an absolute must-run. “The 6-plus-mile route ambles along the Flatirons, from Chautauqua to Eldorado Canyon. But you can also run an out-and-back distance of your choosing, making it a great place to test out the trails.”

Run and Mingle

WHY HIT THE TRAIL ALONE WHEN YOU CAN MAKE NEW FRIENDS? REGULAR GROUP RUNS HOSTED BY LOCAL SHOPS AND CLUBS OFFER INSTANT CAMARADERIE.

FLEET FEET SPORTS
Meet at the North Boulder shop on Monday evenings for a free 2- to 5-mile social run. Be sure to follow Fleet Feet on Facebook to see where the group is headed for their weekly Saturday trail run. fleetfeetboulder.com

BOULDER ROAD RUNNERS
Founded in 1979, this long-standing group gathers on Iris Avenue for the perfect start to a Sunday morning: a social out-and-back run followed by muf ns and cinnamon rolls. boulderroadrunners.org

NEWTON RUNNING
Headquartered in Boulder, Newton Running sells quality kicks designed to help you run better. The company also holds a group run at its  flagship store on Thursday evenings and a form clinic on Saturday mornings where you can test Newton shoes for free. newtonrunning.com

BOULDER RUNNING COMPANY
Join 80 to 300 like-minded runners for a free 3- to 7-mile run every Wednesday night. Meet at the storefront on Pearl Street to start your run and return for free beer, pizza and raffles. BRC also offers in-store yoga classes for $5 a pop. You bring the mat, they provide a certi ed instructor, coffee and bagels. boulderrunningcompany.com

Refuel

HIT UP THESE HOT SPOTS TO NOSH WITH AN OLYMPIAN OR TWO.

AMANTE
In this Euro-style coffee shop, sweaty running togs are perfectly acceptable attire. Top off your cup and catch up on the latest cycling, soccer and endurance sports news. amantecoffee.com

RUEBEN’S BURGER BISTRO
This downtown burger cornerstone caters to the hungry post-run crowd with juicy burgers and local beers on tap. Be sure to sample the latest batch from the hometown heroes of Avery Brewing. ruebensburgerbistro.com

PAPUSAS SABOR HISPANO
Head straight for this friendly sit-down restaurant and pick out a papusa or two. These hearty corn griddlecakes are packed with authentic fillings. Our favorite is the roasted Anaheim chili! pupusasboulder.com

OAK AT FOURTEENTH
Visit Oak for post-run meatball sliders and a homemade root beer. Or stop in for a Rat Pack-worthy nightcap concocted by trail-running champion and resident mixologist Brian Dayton. oakatfourteenth.com

Rest Your Weary Legs

MAKE LIKE A LOCAL AND STASH YOUR CAR! STAY IN THE CENTER OF TOWN AND SPEND YOUR VISIT EXPLORING BY FOOT.

HOTEL BOULDERADO
As a member of the National Trust for Historic Hotels of America, this hotel provides a funky, Victorian experience a block from the Pearl Street Mall. Go for at least one ride in the antique elevator, manned by a traditional operator. Rates start at $224. boulderado.com

ST. JULIEN
Gaze at the Flatiron Mountain from your plush room at this modern downtown gem. Want to luxuriously recover from your run? Schedule an appointment at their 10,000-square-foot spa or soak in the infinity pool. Rates start at $309. stjulien.com

CHAUTAUQUA COTTAGES
Take a step back in time, then step out your door to run some of the best trails Boulder has to offer. Efficiency cottages start at $122 per night. chautauqua.com