Dan King opted to walk-on to the University of Colorado cross country team in 1978.
It was a leap of faith for a young man who grew up in Colorado Springs, and of course it always takes a certain level inner gumption and self-drive to make it as a walk-on in any collegiate program.
In many ways, King has not stopped pushing himself since.
When the 43rd Bolder Boulder takes off on Monday morning, in many ways King will epitomize the spirit of the annual Memorial Day, 10-kilometer festival. A longtime Boulder resident, King is the owner of several age-group national and world records, and he is aiming to win his age group division this year.
The secret to his longevity? Dedication to his craft and commitment to his fitness. During a recent trip to Germany, King explained his mindset to the Daily Camera via email.
“My longevity in competitive running isn’t really a secret, but it does manifest out of my self-identification as an endurance athlete,” said King, who turns 64 on June 3. “I have a desire to be able to do all the things I love at a high level for a very long time. Not only competitive endurance (especially running), but also alpine skiing, golf, cycling and just life overall. Regular exercise, healthy nutrition (for me that means being plant-based), stress management and good sleep are all important elements of this.
“So I routinely use goals around running (occasionally triathlon) to keep me focused and motivated. I almost always have both near term goals and some that are one to two years out. I tend to only run every other day but I do easy cross training on the other days. I rarely train less than six days per week. I also have made strength training a regular part of my routine, this becomes more important with each passing year.”
King ran the first Bolder Boulder in 1979 and estimates he has competed in about two-thirds of the previous 42 BB races over the past four-plus decades.
Running the Bolder Boulder soon became a family affair, as King, his siblings and their kids often locked horns with the famous local running family of Lyons High cross country coach Mark Roberts in family division competitions. As he has aged, however, King has flourished. And a big part of that equation has been his ability to increase his own standards even as the birthdays keep rolling by.
“I’ve had some remarkable success with my running as I’ve gotten older,” King said. “I set a goal to break five (minutes) for the mile after turning 60. In the process of chasing that goal, I broke the M60 world record (unofficially) at 61 with a 4:49.08 and then the following year I broke the M60 world record officially with a 4:51.45. Last year, at 63, I ran 4:59 at NYC 5th Ave Mile. I think that makes me the oldest American to break 5:00 for the mile. I’m going to try and do it again this year after my 64th birthday. And then again when I’m 65.”