Bolder Boulder: After 10-year hiatus, former CU Buff Laura Thweatt returns to pro field The Denver Post

Given the relatively quick turnaround from a physically taxing event, runners who compete in the Boston Marathon in April often feel compelled to pass on the Bolder Boulder. It’s a big reason why the defending champion in the women’s pro race, Aliphine Tuliamuk, won’t be defending her title.

Yet Laura Thweatt wasn’t happy with her performance in Boston last month. And so the former Colorado Buffaloes standout had an open mind when approached about making a long-awaited return to the pro field at the Bolder Boulder.

Even in a pro career now a dozen years long, Thweatt respects the reality that few events recreate the same thrill and excitement typically on display at the Bolder Boulder. And so, while Thweatt won the women’s citizen’s race a year ago, she will return to the pro field for the first time in 10 years on Monday morning when the International Team Challenge caps the running events at the 43rd Bolder Boulder.

“I did Boston in April and it was a nightmare of a day for me,” Thweatt said. “I was coming off of that and wanted to keep momentum and keep running and just try to figure out what’s next. At first I thought, ‘Dear God, no.’ I knew I was really fit coming off of Boston and I didn’t take that much time after. Getting legs back after a marathon, you never really know where you’re at with that.

“But after giving it some thought, it’s in my hometown. It’s always just such a fun day. The crowds are awesome. It’s at altitude. You just get out there and shake the marathon rust off and have some fun with it. I was grateful they reached out.”

Thweatt will compete on Team USA with Emily Durgin and Ednah Kurgat. The other women’s U.S. team, USA-Colorado, will feature Neely Gracey, Maggie Montoya and Carrie Verdon. Gracey finished second behind Thweatt in last year’s women’s citizen race.

Thweatt will be the ninth runner to compete in Bolder Boulder’s women’s pro race at least 10 years after her first appearance, but she will be only the second to boast a full 10-year gap between appearances. Ria Van Landegham made her Bolder Boulder debut in 1989 and didn’t run it again until 2000. Thweatt finished 12th in 2013.

“I think one of the things I’m proudest of as far as my career goes is just the longevity that I’ve had,” Thweatt said. “I’m out here 10 years later still loving it, still enjoying it, and just wanting to get out here and have some fun. I’m happy to still be on that start line.”

Leonard Korir will look to defend his pro title in the men’s race as part of the USA-Colorado team alongside Sam Chelanga and Teshome Mekonnen. Team USA features recent NCAA standouts in Connor Mantz and Clayton Young, plus veteran Jared Ward. It will be Ward’s sixth appearance in the Bolder Boulder pro race.

Although the pro field — six men’s teams, five women’s teams — remains smaller than pre-COVID totals, Don Janicki, the pro athlete coordinator, believes it is a deeper talent pool than last year, when the Bolder Boulder returned from a two-year pandemic layoff.

“The great additions is that kind of Utah team with Jared, Connor and Clayton,” Janicki said. “I think they might be one of the teams to beat.”

Race director Cliff Bosley reported as of Sunday morning, the Bolder Boulder had surpassed 38,000 registrations, already topping the 33,991 total produced last year in the Bolder Boulder’s first running since 2019. Race day registration will open on Monday morning at 5:30 a.m. near the start area near the intersection of 30th and Walnut.

The women’s pro race begins at 11:11 a.m. with the men’s race to follow 10 minutes later. Following both races, the event culminates in the annual Memorial Day Tribute at Folsom Field.

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