Runners need to run.
Elite runners need to compete.
The former has not generally been an issue during the athletics shutdown of the past three months caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as slipping outside to get in a few miles rarely has felt so inviting. However, like all professional sports, the pro track and field circuit also has been on hold since the spring, most notably with the cancellation of the US Olympic Trials and the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Games until next summer.
Joe Bosshard, the coach and husband of CU Buffs alum and Olympic medalist Emma Coburn, brainstormed a small way to fill that void. On Saturday night in Grand Junction, Bosshard’s CU alumni-heavy “Team Boss” will take aim at breaking the Colorado one-mile record while running for a good cause, capping a fundraising effort for the Colorado Springs-based Sachs Foundation, which offers college scholarships for Black Colorado high school students.
“When quarantine started and all the races were getting canceled, we took a step back in our training and had to re-approach what we were getting ready for,” Coburn said. “The whole time, Joe wanted to have us race sometime over the summer, whether it was time trials at practice, or a race like we’re doing now, or a bigger race in a more traditional sense.
“Joe was able to put this race together for us and it gave us something to look forward to. And also, getting that race practice and experience is always valuable.”
Coburn and Team Boss have been training for the past month in Coburn’s hometown of Crested Butte, a regular summer destination for the team for altitude training camps. The hope is the opportunity to finally compete after months of isolated training, along with a move from Crested Butte’s altitude of about 9,000 feet to Grand Junction’s elevation of about 4,600 feet, will help topple the state’s one-mile marks.
Those men’s and women’s marks are owned by a pair of now-former Buffs in Dani Jones (4:36.05) and Joe Klecker (4:01.00). In addition to Coburn and Jones, the other former CU Buffs racing on Saturday night includes Nick Harris, Maddie Alm, and Laura Thweatt. The race also will feature recent Niwot alum and two-time Class 4A cross country state champ Cruz Culpepper, the son of former CU great Alan Culpepper who is scheduled to compete for the University of Washington this fall.
While the event at Colorado Mesa University is not open to the public, Coburn said a live stream will be available via FloTrack (8:30 p.m. MT).
In light of the recent protests decrying racial injustice across the country, Coburn and Bosshard (also a former CU runner) set a goal of raising $20,000 for the Sachs Foundation. As of Thursday afternoon the group remained a few thousand dollars short of that goal, though Coburn noted the donation site will remain open for several days after the race.
“The Sachs Foundation is a great group. And the team and Joe and I have always cared a lot about our community and giving back in different ways,” Coburn said. “That’s a big part of who we are, and the impact we want to leave on the sport goes well beyond the track. We want to be able to make a difference when we can. So it felt appropriate to use our voices and use this race as an opportunity to fundraise for a group we cared about.”