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Race has become gold mine in Boulder

By Pam Mellskog
The Daily Times-Call

BOULDER — When Bolder Boulder race founder and former Bank of Boulder President Steve Bosley recently chatted about celebrating the event’s silver anniversary this year, he explained that running the running-oriented nonprofit was an uphill venture.

“When you have a business that’s only open one day a year, there’s a pretty long learning process,” he said.

Yet despite the compressed time the organization has to shine on Memorial Day, about a dozen staff and 2,500 volunteers will once again host the classic 10K race that creates an estimated $10 million economic impact on the city of Boulder, according to Bosley.

The economic impact study, he continued, was conducted in conjunction with the Boulder Chamber of Commerce several years ago. It will be repeated this year to glean the most current statistics on how the race keeps local cash registers ringing.

“We are now

greater than two home CU football games,” Bosley said.

After all, each of the 50,000 people bunched into 94 starting line waves statistically brings 2.8 supporters with him. So, despite the recession, the Bolder Boulder hit a high-water mark in 2003 by posting a $2 million budget.

The early bird registration fee cost $31. Procrastinators pay $7 extra to register late and race-day registration is a premium $43. But generous cash and in-kind corporate sponsorship also has kept the race from getting financially footsore.

To continue winning this backing, Bosley said, he has always run the holiday event like a business. Instead of accepting any and all advertising, he helps organizations find “meaningful” opportunities.

Does the potential advertiser want to sell more widgets, involve employees in community service or make an altruistic gesture? Determining these motivations, he said, makes it easier for him to help company’s supporting the Bolder Boulder “get more of their money’s worth” out of the relationship.

While the obvious race-day benefactors include sports retailers, food and beverage purveyors and locals in the lodging industry, the race boosts revenues in a host of other areas as well, Bosley said.

“The demographics of runners is across the board,” he said. “So their interests are across the board, too.”

Operating the fun-filled event like a first-class business, Bosley said, has kept it healthy — 1997 is the only year the race shrank slightly. Yet, it will never be business as usual at the cluttered 4571 N. Broadway St. Bolder Boulder office.

“It’s the largest Memorial Day Tribute in the nation,” he explained. “And there’s no way to find out how many people get into better shape to run it.”

For more information, visit www.bolderboulder.com or call 303-444-7223.

Pam Mellskog can be reached at 303-776-2244 Ext. 224 or by e-mail at pmellskog@times-call.com.