Even for a professional runner like Shalaya Kipp, it is easy to add a smile when saying the words, 'I'm running my first Bolder Boulder.'
The empowerment of the Bolder Boulder is something to which every participant can relate, and it's no different for Kipp in this the year in which the motto of the race is "40 Years Bold."
Kipp, the former Colorado Buffaloes star and 2012 Olympian in the steeplechase, has actually never ran a 10K before. But her debut is inspiring in that she wanted to compete for Team USA in the International Team Challenge, not just as an individual.
"I've watched the Bolder Boulder for the last eight years and every time I watch it I've wanted to be in it," said Kipp, who is a research assistant at CU and is still very active with the track team in her training. "This year I just talked to my coaches and just asked if we could make it a reality this year, and we thought about it and just kind of said, if there's any year to do it, this would be it. It makes sense, it can be a lot of fun and I'm in the shape to go for it.
"Primarily I am a track athlete, and it is track season, so I'm sure (team organizers) had no idea I was interested. But as soon as I reached out to them and told them I was, they said they'd love to have me."
Kipp is one of the most decorated female runners in CU history, a steeplechase collegiate champion who also excelled in cross country and earned multiple All-American honors. Since finishing her eligibility, Kipp dove in to the professional ranks and has competed in a wide variety of indoor and outdoor races.
Last year, she took to competing in more road races of various distances, including a 20K in Connecticut this past September. She finished as the ninth overall female.
Having been a full-time resident of Boulder since college, Kipp has admired the race from "afar" as it has just not lined up with her training schedule in the past.
Representing the USA has been something she's been fortunate to do multiple times, but the idea of running for the team challenge on Memorial Day has engulfed her thoughts.
"It's really going to be the first time I've had a hometown race, and I think that's a lot of why I am excited about it," Kipp said. "Anytime that you get to wear USA across your chest, it's really hard to put into words how meaningful that is. To do that on Memorial Day, it's just going to be extra special and something I am really looking forward to."
There are three teams of three women representing the United States, and among those are Taylor Ward, Lindsey Scherf, Lauren Martin-Masterson, Emma Bates, Aliphine Tuliamuk, Susan Tanui, Kipp, Cally Macumber and Lindsay Flanagan. Scherf is a returnee from 2017, and she finished sixth overall to help USA finish second in the cross-country scored event. Martin-Masterson was the first female finisher in the 2017 citizen's race.
Team Ethopia's Mamitu Daska will be looking for a repeat title and a sixth overall Bolder Boulder win — which would set a record.
The men's race should be a tremendous opportunity for a United States team to repeat as champions. Leonard Korir, Sam Chalenga and Diego Estrada were the top three American athletes in 2017, finishing in the top nine overall to help the United States Red team edge Team Ethiopia.
Olympic marathon veteran Jared Ward and 2017 citizen's race runner-up Brandon Johnson also join the fray.
Last year's male pro winner, Gabriel Geay of Tanzania, is back to defend his title.
The International Team Challenge is scheduled to start at 11:13 a.m. on Memorial Day, while the men would start at 11:24 a.m.
International Team Challenge roster