Pack burro racing is the only sport indigenous to the US State of
Colorado. It has its roots in that state's mining heritage. In the
early days of the mining industry in Colorado, miners would take
burros, which is the Spanish word for donkey, through the mountains
of Colorado in their search for gold. Because the burros were carrying
supplies, the miners could not ride the animals and so they would
walk, leading the donkey. The Burro races, which are held throughout
small towns in Colorado, commemorate these men and their burros.
In a typical burro race, a runner and a burro race complete a prescribed
course together, with the runner leading the burro on a rope. Riding
of the burro is not alowed. In fact, the human may carry the
burro, but the burro may not carry the human. The burro must be
on a lead rope, which is limited to 15 feet. Runners must maintain
control of their animals at all times.
Burros must also carry a pack saddle with 33 pounds (14.968 kilograms)
of traditional mining gear, which must include a pick, a gold pan,
and a shovel. Runners may also include other gear in their pack
saddles, such as windbreakers, water, food, etc., but the surplus
gear cannot be counted in the 33 lbs. Cruelty to the burro is prohibited
and racing officials have the right to hold any burro for 30 minutes
following the race for an inspection by a veterinarian.
There are two legends concerning the beginning of these burro races.
The first states that the races began when two miners found gold
and had to race back to the claims office. Because they could not
ride the burros (the burros were either too small or too loaded
down with supplies,) the miners were forced to run, leading the
burros. The second legend is somewhat vague but concerns a few drunken
miners at a bar in Leadville, Colorado.
Like Horse Racing, Burro Racing has its own "Triple Crown", consisting
of races in Fairplay,
Vista, Colorado. The Fairplay, Colorado race is 29 miles and
counts as an ultra-marathon.
For more information please visit: Western
Pack Burro Ass-ociation