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First-Ever Bolder Boulder Winner Trains Today’s Runners

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BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Monday marked the 36th running of the Bolder Boulder. With around 50,000 participants who ran this year, it is one of the premier 10K races in America, and it grew from humble beginnings back in 1979 with a race that had just 3,000 runners.

There are elite runners, recreational runners and runners dressed in gorilla costumes. A handful of those runners are being trained by a man who knows the race as well as anybody.

“Everybody was an amateur at the time in terms of running the race. My pickup truck was the pace truck and one of my club members with the Colorado Track Club was driving the pickup truck. Well, he forgot to start it, so when they shot the gun he had to jump in my truck, start the truck. By that time everybody had passed him,” Ric Rojas said.

Ric Rojas in the first-ever Bolder Boulder (credit: Ric Rojas)

Ric Rojas in the first-ever Bolder Boulder (credit: Ric Rojas)

Rojas not only passed the pace truck, but everybody else and won that initial Bolder Boulder.

“It was a blessing, really, because of that I was able to make a living as a coach from that one performance,” Rojas said. “I mean I won a lot of races in my career, but this is the one that you want to win in Boulder for sure.”

Rojas hasn’t run a Bolder Boulder in a few years but he has worked non-stop helping people train for it. For the last five years one of the groups he has worked with are employees at a company called WhiteWave in Broomfield. Many of the employees never thought of running the Bolder Boulder until Rojas showed up to show them how.

“Well, I start them conservatively. Basically what I try to do is bring them along slowly over a 12-week period so they don’t get injured,” he said. “So what I try to do is very slowly, gradually bring them around into shape.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Bolder Boulder

“When you run on your own and go run in Wash Park there’s no structure to it. I think Rick has added a lot of structure, helped me to pace and get faster,” Amer Tadmori said. “A lot of times you don’t realize you have to go slower to get faster. So Ric has really helped me a lot with that.”

“He made running easier, he gave us training plans. He was someone who was holding you accountable,” Becky Potvin said. “Once you start seeing improvements you get hooked a little bit.”

Rojas finds a lot of joy in helping others, and teaching them the right way to train. When he was in his prime there was only one way to workout.

“Back in 1979 we didn’t know any better not to train hard. So we trained hard, we didn’t have a lot of scientific background, per se,” Rojas said. “Since that time there are a lot more exercise physiologists involved in training. So the athletes are going to have a lot more exercise physiology information. How hard you train, when to train hard, when to back off. All that information, dietary information — they have a big advantage.”

Seventy-six employees of WhiteWave competed in the Bolder Boulder this year. Some ran the race, some walked it, but with Rojas’ help, all of them went into the race with a game plan just like the elite runners.

“What I try to do is get them to plan the race as if they’re running professionally. So they have a race plan, they have splits. They know what they’re supposed to hit every mile in; as well as you’re supposed to feel ,” Rojas said. “And when they finish they felt like they’ve done a good job with their pacing.”

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