Monday is the annual running of the Boulder Bolder. Grand public events always transform a city in the most interesting and unique ways. Some cities have massive parades or street festivals, but Boulder has a 10K road race. Each year Folsom, 13th Street, Pearl Street, etc. are fantastically transformed from their quotidian existence as common, auto-dominated byways into a running, jogging, waking mass of humanity. At the finish line, in Folsom Field, a Memorial Day tribute is celebrated along with the consumption of all those power drinks and energy bars.
The Boulder Bolder attracts some 50,000 participants, the first waves of serious runners followed by wave after wave of qualifying times, everyday runners, joggers, and finally the walkers and strollers. Along the way are some 30-something bands, innumerable wacky costumes (you really don’t know you are in legitimate public event until a guy in a nun’s habit with a beard wanders by), and the longest, densest stream of refuse a mildly progressive high-desert college town can stand.
It is of course easy to make fun of the Boulder Bolder, but like all of these kinds of public events, they are great and really transformative events in the city. Just the change of the streets from auto to human alone is worthy of admiration and celebration.
According to historical statistics, some 10% or so of the Boulder public take part and for at least one day experience the city on foot. Even in Boulder, resplendent with bikers and runners, it is increasingly rare that movement through the a city is experienced without the mediating filter of the automobile and its associated radio and cellphone partners in alienation. This should be of particular note to architects as we work in a medium that frankly unfolds slowly, more at the pace of walking than a multimedia experience. For architecture, done well and thoughtfully, is a multi-sensory experience and it takes time and a bit of reflection to allow the aural and haptic impressions to make their mark and not be overwhelmed and subsumed by the merely visual. That time is still most likely of a person, walking, stopping, and walking again, not the diminished experience of a multi-tasking driver.
So, Boulderites, take your time. Don’t worry about setting a course record, you can’t, leave it to pros. Revel in the experience of the city, the streets, your fellow citizens and visitors. The only other time this many people take to the streets, revolution is in the air.
(my apologies for whomever’s copyright I might be infringing upon. You see I usually get out of town on the day and don’t have any of my own photos. This year my wife and eldest daughter are running so many photos will be taken)