CREEDE — The annual Creede Donkey Dash brought a huge crowd to Creede on Saturday, June 11, with well over 500 people lining Main Street to cheer on the racers as they worked their way up along the Bachelor Loop just north of town.
The morning of the event was bright, with clear skies, not a cloud in sight, and summer making a full appearance.
Racers gathered in the middle of Main Street waiting for the shot of the starter's gun to set them off on their day-long journey through the historical mining district above Creede.
The donkeys of all shapes and sizes were fixed with gear made to simulate mining equipment and were more than ready to get the show on the road.
Resident and supporter of the event, Nancy Leggitt was the announcer for the event and rallied the crowd right before the race and fellow long-time resident and veterinarian Doc Howard used his trusty revolver loaded with a blank to start the race and send the donkeys running off the starting line.
Burros are tame animals a majority of the time but are known to have a stubborn streak that makes this event enjoyable for the spectators.
The racers made their way up the steep incline along the same route many miners and characters of the past once walked with their burros in tow. The race follows rules set by the Western Pack Burro Association and is one that many participants look forward to every year.
Some of the animals participating in the race were once part of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Program. According to BLM, it manages and protects wild horses and burros on 26.9 million acres of public lands across 10 Western states as part of its mission to administer public lands for a variety of uses. The Wild Horse and Burro Program's goal is to manage healthy wild horses and burros on healthy public rangelands.
The Bureau of Land Management created the Wild Horse and Burro Program to implement the Wild-Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, passed by Congress in 1971. Broadly, the law declares wild horses and burros to be “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West” and stipulates that the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service have the responsibility to manage and protect herds in their respective jurisdictions within areas where wild horses and burros were found roaming in 1971.
Hidden in the foothills of the South Fork area is also a special place for wandering burros of all shapes and sizes. Little do the residents of the Valley know, the Forever Home Donkey Rescue has been healing, loving and comforting donkeys for the past three years as a satellite location for the larger operation that is located in Benson, Ariz. Almost all of the racers who participated in the event became lovers of the animals after learning of the rescue efforts.
The route up the Bachelor Loop is a trial at best with a rise in elevation from 8,900 feet to above 10,000. It is an endurance race. Over 50 racers participated this year and made it to the finish line later that afternoon.
The youngest competitor was Aidan Malherbe, 14 years, with Nash. The oldest competitor was Bill Lee, 72, with Dolly.
Bob Sweeney and Yukon still hold the course record set in 2021 at 1:22:47.42.
The trophies handed out at the end of the event were made by Eminent Creations.
Top Male Finishers:
1 - Team Buttercup and Marvin Sandoval (Leadville)
2 - Team Yukon and Bob Sweeney (Leadville)
3 - Team Pablo Vigil and Smokey Burgess (Leadville)
Top Female Finishers:
1 - Team Mary Margaret and Tracy Loughlin (Salida)
2 - Team Figaro and Alexis Knight (Rifle)
3 - Team Uncle Sam and Linda Drain (South Fork)
Results are available online at https://runsignup.com/Race/Results; click on Find a Race; and then enter Creede Donkey Dash.