Race: FORTitude 10k
Date: Labor Day 2017 (September 4)
HThe inaugural FORTitude 10k is the partner race to the BolderBOULDER, rounding out the summer season with a Labor Day 10k through historic and downtown Fort Collins. This race celebrates hometown college pride (and friendly in-state rivalry), starting just outside the Colorado State University campus and ending in the football stadium. True to the BolderBOULDER race standard, this 10k ends with a box lunch, festive expo, and commemorative celebration.
Course: The course starts just beyond the edge of the university campus and winds through cute, historic neighborhoods in the area, City Park, and ends up back on campus with the big finish in the football stadium, maintaining the spirit of the BolderBOULDER. However, the FORTitude course differs drastically in that it is mostly flat with minor inclines and, if possible, more downhill than uphill. Plenty of turns to keep you engaged throughout the course with one long straight-away near the middle. Excellent entertainment! There were bands almost every 1/2 mile, and certainly every mile.
Aid: Official aid was very well-planned and well-spaced. If memory serves correctly, there were aid stations right about miles 2, 4, 5, and maybe 5.5? I recall 4 aid stations throughout the course, but it might have been 3. 2017 was the inaugural year for the race, so there weren’t as many unofficial aid stations as BolderBOULDER (no cupcakes, so sad!), but there was a lemonade stand somewhere around mile 3!
Atmosphere: Plenty of hometown pride fuels this race – I even spied the CSU mascot lining up in the corrals at the start of the race. The bands and entertainment along the course were great encouragement for runners, and the finish area was full of celebratory energy. Very fun!
Organization: 2017 was the inaugural year for the FORTitude, but as a partner race to the BolderBOULDER it certainly benefitted from some of the foresight and planning that keeps these races mostly seamless. My experience with packet pickup (getting it from a designated location before race day) was simple. I carpooled in and we had no problem with parking in the neighborhoods surrounding CSU. The finish area was a bit backed up, but everybody eventually received a lunchbox and free beer (for those who were old enough to drink). The one-of-a-kind elite race had staggered start times with the goal that all the racers would enter the stadium within about 3 minutes of each other, which is exactly what happened. It was a very different kind of exciting to see all those runners come in so close together. Nicely executed Labor Day tribute, as well
Spectators: Not quite on par with the BolderBOULDER, but I expect that in 39 more years it will look the same. Some small crowds along the course where the people living in the neighborhoods came out to watch, but the big party was, of course, at the finish line.
Swag: Juice, beer, plenty of water, and lunchboxes were provided to most runners (beer being the exception), and there were more snacks and samples just outside the stadium at the expo. Lunchboxes were provided by Zoe’s Kitchen so post-race fuel consisted of grilled chicken, hummus, veggies & cheese, which was surprisingly refreshing and sustaining after a 10k run. Runners had the option to choose from a cotton T-shirt or technical shirt for their swag (and also had the option to donate their shirt). No medals for this 10k either, but a great feeling of accomplishment
Recommended for: Any and all runners/joggers/walkers! The mostly-flat course has plenty of scenery and great on-course musical entertainment. Post-race party at the finish line is worth sticking around for (stick around for the skydivers, you won’t regret it!).
Overall thoughts: Very enjoyable! Even with all the smoke from the wildfires across the northwest portion of the country, this was an excellent race-day experience. I’m hopeful that over the years the course (unofficial aid stations and spectators) will grow to rival those of BolderBOULDER, and until it does, this is a great way to spend your morning on a long holiday weekend.