At the risk of starting a bad rhyme, the 2009 Bolder Boulder is over. The weather cooperated (almost… it didn’t start raining until after the closing ceremonies, then we got drenched!) and two Ethiopians won the Elite Runners races. They’ll get their names in the papers, and deserved congratulations for a fine performance.

But 24 people representing the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA) also participated in the race . Nine of the ACHA team have congenital heart defects, and have had sixteen heart operations. If you see their names in the news, it probably won’t be for winning a road race.

The race went off without a hitch; the ACHA team gathered at a local home to make sure all their race paperwork was in order – that was my assignment – before being driven to the starting line. Because the start times for different groups were staggered, we’d have a flurry of people signing forms, followed by thirty to forty five minutes of quiet. After the final forms were taken care of and noon drew closer, we headed for the stadium (University of Colorado’s Folsom Field) and watched the participants enter the stadium. The Elite races ended, parachutists dropped onto the field carrying the flags of the Armed Services and the Stars and Stripes. There was a 21 gun salute in honor of Memorial Day, Taps was played, and there was a flyover by the Colorado Air National Guard. And the 2009 Bolder Boulder was history.

But I have photographs and more wonderful memories than I can count of OUR portion of the race. I have reunited with old friends and made new Heart Warrior friends who are so inspiring. Heart Moms and Heart Dads have opened their homes and their hearts to me. And average folks in perfect health who have decided to make a stand against Congenital Heart Defects. They’ve seen their friend or a neighbor struggle with a heart defect and have decided it is time to draw their own line in the sand. These people didn’t have to be here – thank you so much!

The newspapers will tell you that the Ethiopians won. I say that they just happened to finish first. The winners that I know win every day. Their lives depend on it.

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