BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – There was a milestone at Monday’s Bolder Boulder. After 33 years the race saw its one-millionth finisher.
An estimated 54,000 people took part in the 10K run through the streets of Boulder.
The first Bolder Boulder was in 1979, and those organizers likely never dreamed that one day more than one million people would run the race.
Photo Gallery: Bolder Boulder 2011
The Memorial Day event honors the men and women who serve in the military, so it was only fitting the millionth finisher is a veteran. Mieszka Laczek Johnson finished in the middle of the crowd at Folsom Field not knowing she was now part of Bolder Boulder history.
Organizers knew the millionth finisher would cross the finish line around 9:30 a.m., but they lost her in the pack. It took half an hour, but she was there — and with a quite a story to tell.
The 34-year-old University of Colorado graduate served in Baghdad with the Army and also worked as a state department contractor. It was in Iraq where she injured her foot.
“I was injured in the Army; accident, got hurt and had to have reconstructive surgery and a lot of physical therapy and it took many years,” Johnson said.
She had to relearn how to walk and then struggled to learn how to run. And while finishing was an important milestone for her, she was running for more than just herself.
“I’m running in honor of some very, very wonderful brothers of mine,” Johnson said.
Those “brothers” are eight fellow soldiers who died in Iraq.
“You know something as little as just putting their pictures on my back and saying I’m running for people who gave their lives,” Johnson said. “I feel wrong taking a day off and having a barbeque. These guys were wonderful, wonderful people.”
Johnson was honored before the Folsom crowd in what was truly a story that’s one in a million.
Johnson picked up some nice prizes too, including a new mountain bike, CU football season tickets and some running gear.