First-annual FORTitude 10k brings CSU and Fort Collins together

Maddie Wright

A line of spectators watches the road as runners run
Spectators watch as Citizens race continues (Maddie Wright l Collegian)
In a morning haze among cheering spectators and the beating sun, the first annual FORTitude 10k race took place.

Created by the organizers of the BolderBoulder race, participants running in the Labor Day race finished in the newly finished CSU stadium, much as the BolderBOULDER finishes in the University of Colorado stadium.

“I am thrilled to see the participation by runners but really to see CSU and the community to embrace and to gather to celebrate this event,” said Gary Ozzello, the executive director of community outreach and engagement for Colorado State University External Relations.

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With the idea for the race starting nearly four years ago, the race serves as a way to bridge the gap between the CSU campus and the Fort Collins community, according to Cliff Bosley, the race director. 

The finish line to the race was on the newly finished CSU stadium, much as the BoulderBOULDER, a race on Memorial Day in Boulder, Colorado, finishes in the University of Colorado stadium.

“(The Stadium) would be a place for community gatherings not just a place for six or seven football games a year,” Ozzello said.

The location of the finish further connects the two communities.

“We have an amazing and unique community in Fort Collins that we’re proud of and I think it has solidified the relationship between the city, the community and CSU,” Ozzello said.

The CSU Stadium with runners running along the perimeter.
Runners cross the finish line at CSU Stadium (Maddie Wright | Collegian)

This race also introduced a new element to racing with the Pro Chase Race. The professional athletes who decided to compete in this race were all placed at different times based on their personal record. It is the same idea of a wave start used in many races but is now taken to an individual level. This is the first time this has been done in an elite race and with men and women together.

Among the sweating and the panting, was a continuous support system of people cheering and clapping in the stadium as runners crossed the finish line.

“Running in the Colorado community you get to brush shoulders with a lot of the greats so you keep yourself and check and don’t grow such a big ego,” said Brandon Johnson, a Pro Chase runner and 2016 BoulderBOULDER citizens winner. “I like to be around people that all share the same passion and make some good ol’ friends.”

For a salute to Labor Day, a beam from the World Trade Center was transported to Fort Collins and sat on the new field as runners filed in.

With the 2017 Rocky Mountain Showdown as a not so distant memory, the feeling for Boulder within Fort Collins was prominent in that the FORTitude race was created by the same folks who now organize the BoulderBOULDER. There were groups decked out in CU Buffs gear but drinking Old Aggie beer.

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With Tour de Fat as another event in this busy four-day weekend, some costumed runners ran in this race, including a dinosaur, a fairy and a banana. There was even a glimpse of CAM the Ram mascot running as the stadium played the CSU fight song.

There were hundreds of volunteers distributing lunches, cheering on runners and keeping everyone safe.

Among the approximate 8,000 runners were Colin Anderson, a 2011 CSU alumni and cross-country athlete who also owns Shoes and Brews in Longmont, and Dustin Fishman of “American Ninja Warrior.” 

“We saw a lot of people from the store and from other places up here running,” Anderson said.

With the concept of community as one of the main ideas for this race, plans for next years are already underway.

According to Pro Chase runner Renee Metivier, “with the males and females being all together this year in particular it is so special bringing everyone together in a unified front even though we’re staggered it is a race that brings equality and freedom altogether in one big unit.” 

Collegian reporter Maddie Wright can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @MaddieRWright.