DENVER–The Idaho Springs Pack Burro Race isn’t until Sunday, but I’m already nervous. And not just because I’m out of shape. Or because I’ve never gone on a 5-mile run with a donkey at 7,000 feet.

I’m nervous because tommorow might be more important than the actual race day. Carie and I will head to the Laughing Valley Ranch near Idaho Springs to meet Red Tail, who will introduce me to my burro. That’s assuming that he knows which burro he’ll loan me (he’s got 30 of them). I don’t know if he’s got one picked out for me or if he’ll let the burro pick me.

If it’s up to the burros, what if none of them will have me? What if they refuse to run for a guy from the city? What if they’re all smart enough to plainly see that running with me would be a dumb ass decision?

The only thing I do know is that Red Tail won’t be outfitting me with one of his swiftest burros. When I recently asked him if he knew which one might be a good fit for me, he said I will not be running with a champion.

“Well, I probably won’t give you Bullwinkle,” he said. “That’s my triple crown winner.”

Fair enough. After all, I did tell him that I run 10-minute miles. While I’m actually more of an 8-minute guy, I figured it might be better to surprise him with my speed rather than explain later why his prized burro ran away from me, escaping into the Rocky Mountains forever.

Plus, there’s the altitude, which I couldn’t prepare for in Raleigh, N.C. The more that I think about it, I might need a burro that’s perfecly happy jogging along at a 12-minute mile pace.

Hopefully, there’s an ass for that.

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