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Campus gears up for Border War with annual Bronze Boot Run

Running 42 miles for a morning workout routine may seem a little excessive to most, but for the Colorado State University ROTC squad, it’s a tradition. Their mission? Deliver a heavy bronze trophy to the campus of one of CSU’s oldest rivals.

In anticipation of the Border War game Friday, the CSU ROTC is undertaking the 52nd annual Bronze Boot Run Thursday morning. The run begins at Canvas Stadium and will finish at War Memorial Field in Wyoming. 

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Col. Troy Thomas, professor of military sciences of the Army ROTC, said the run begins at 6 a.m. Thursday morning on campus, which fans are welcome to participate in.

“It’s just a really, really cool tradition, and it shows how much the University supports my program and how much they care about ROTC to allow us to be a part of that,” Thomas said. “It makes us really feel part of the University.”

The run celebrates the Bronze Boot, a traveling trophy around which the Border War centers. The boot is an actual combat boot worn by alumnus Army Capt. Dan Romero in the Vietnam War, painted bronze.

This painted boot now represents all the men and women who have answered the call to serve our nation in one capacity or another when our nation was in need.” -Andrew Reynolds, Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army

Since 1968, retaining ownership of the Boot has been the focus of the rivalry, as stated in a SOURCE article. The rivalry between CSU and Wyoming is one of the oldest in college football, with some special traditions, Thomas said. 

Battalion Commander of the CSU ROTC Brennan Little said the run is shared in mile shifts. After the entire battalion begins the run, two members at a time will take turns carrying the team ball 42 miles north to the Wyoming border.

After running to the border, Thomas said a small ceremony will take place with the game ball being passed from the cadets from both the Army and Air Force branches of the ROTC to Thomas himself, then to the athletic director and coach, who will give small speeches.

The ball is then passed to the Wyoming coach and athletic directors, who will say a few words, and the Wyoming ROTC will continue running the ball to the field. Thomas said that both ROTC programs get along well, and their relationship is a strong one. 

Andrew Reynolds, a graduating senior, battalion’s head observer trainer mentor and active duty Sergeant First Class, said the tradition of the Boot is a point of pride for the University. 

“I am a huge advocate of the tradition of the Bronze Boot Run and the opportunities it gives us to interact with our neighbors to the north,” Reynolds wrote in an email to The Collegian. “This is a great opportunity for fellow cadets to get in some good cardio, absorbing the amazing Colorado landscape, exposes our ROTC program to the community and get an opportunity to know the other person they are running with better.” 

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Cadet 1st Sgt. and graduating senior Maureen Eggleston expressed how the run exemplified the resilience, hard work and dedication from the ROTC program. 

“Underneath the rivalry and the football game, this run signifies teamwork from not just the football team or the ROTC program, but from all CSU Rams,” Eggleston wrote in an email to The Collegian. “When we work together, we can accomplish anything even if the task seems daunting, and the Bronze Boot Run is just one way that CSU works together to show people how proud we are to be CSU Rams.”

Reynolds emphasized the long tradition and larger significance of the Boot.

“This tradition also has a different and bigger role that most people gloss over in that there is a real-world history behind the boot … once worn in combat in Vietnam,” Reynolds wrote. “This painted boot now represents all the men and women who have answered the call to serve our nation in one capacity or another when our nation was in need.”

Meagan Stackpool can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @MeaganStackpool.

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