By Jollie Thresher, Special Correspondent
It used to be, Boulder was known as the fittest city within the fittest state in the country. Nationwide, people held up Boulder as an example of where the leanest, fastest, best looking and most athletic Coloradoans—and Americans—lived. Boulder claimed to be the birthplace of the running boom in the ’70’s and onward. Boulder’s bikers had the coolest spandex, the most expensive bikes. Sports medicine blossomed there. From mountaineering to the CU Buffs, from Zumba to triathlons to the Paleo Diet, Boulder was the fitness capital of our state, our nation!! Salaaaaaaam!!!!!
That has changed, as your correspondent learned in a surprise encounter recently on the Poudre Trail. It was a sunny Saturday morning. I was amazed at the sheer numbers of endorphin-crazed individuals coming and going, on bikes, running, racewalking, swilling sports fluids, all with earphones in place. I swerved to avoid a young female pushing a stroller and attempting to disentangle her feet from her dog’s leash, and crashed into a biker on a Pinarella Dogma F10-Dura-Ace bike, who knocked me over and escaped a concussion due to his Bambino Pro-Aero helmet. He was wearing a jersey that said THE BADDER, THE BOULDER! MILE-HIGH IS FOR SISSIES and he was not happy.
“Watch it, lady!” he screamed.
Overlooking the anti-female slur, I got up and pointed in the direction of the stroller-pusher.
“Jeez!! You FoCo guys are just not focused! I’m TRAINING here,” he said, as if that explained everything, including his attitude. “In Boulder, this wouldn’t have happened!”
“You’re from Boulder? Do you have a minute to talk?”
“Yeh, but not more.” This was going to be a quick interview, but I sensed a lot of potential.
“So what brings you to Ft. Collins?”
“I heard everybody here has been kicking ass, athletically speaking. I wanted to have a look. We’re not gonna let you get ahead of us, no way!! Boulder is the fittest place in the world and we’re gonna keep it that way! We exercise five hours a day on average, we eat only non-GMO, vegetarian, gluten-free, diary-free food. We buy our sports gear from women-owned, free-trade, certifiably diverse companies. We can’t be elbowed out by a cow town! Money Magazine is showing up in a couple of weeks, and Boulder has to stay in first place!”
“You sound like a really competitive person,” I remarked.
“Better believe it! We are the fastest, the fittest, and you cowpokes think you can imitate us! Admit it, you’re a bunch of Boulder wanna-be’s. And look at that guy over there, he’s actually fat!” He pointed to a nearby farm field, where a husky Hispanic-looking guy was digging onions as part of a work crew. He waved cordially at us.
“Um, I’m not sure he’s a Ft. Collins native,” was all I could think of to say.
“Well, if you want Ft. Collins to get the Fittest City USA vote, he better get on board,” said the biker. Before I could get his name, he jumped back on his F10 and pedaled away.
Obviously, Fort Collins has made so much fitness progress in recent years that Boulder is quickly moving from the Mecca to the Medina of fitness. Focopolitans are always training for something: the Colorado Marathon, the Horsetooth Half, the Quad Rock, etc. Of course, many Focopolitans are doing much, much more: the Leadville Hundred, the Hawaii Ironman, the Death Valley Ultra, Extreme heli-skiing, or preparing to scale Everest. In Fort Collins, completing a simple marathon, 26.2 miles, is “for wimps.” Apparently, such a gung-ho athleticism is causing nervousness in Boulder. We’ll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, the guy out digging onions actually lives in Ft. Collins, but had little to offer when I approached him on the subject of fitness. There was something of a language barrier, but from what I understood, his opinion was, “I’m just trying to earn a living. I don’t give a fuck.”