Pack Burro Racing

Pack Burro Racing

Pack Burro Racing had my heart the first time I saw a pack burro race. All I could see was a lone runner with her burro loping down a county road in a drenching rain and I could tell they were having fun. Spend any time at all in Fairplay Colorado and you will notice that a love of burros permeates the town starting with a memorial to Prunes (an exceptional burro who died in 1930). I am totally in love with burros and am plotting to rescue a couple once I figure out how to get some more acreage here in Denver. I have neighbors who will call to let me know when our neighbor is walking her burros through the neighborhood so I can go out to see them. Recently on a trip to Paonia we spent an afternoon meeting some burros and my family happily indulges me. Burros = complete joy.

What is a pack burro race? The world championship pack burro race happens in Fairplay, CO every July and there are also races in Leadville, Buena Vista, and in other towns and even outside of Colorado. The Triple Crown of pack burro races starts with Burro days in Fairplay, then heads to Buena Vista and Leadville in successive weeks.

The Rules

The rules are pretty simple:

  • you need a burro (a horse, mule, or llama won’t do)
  • your burro needs to be under control at all times and if you lose hold of your burro you need to return to the spot where you lost control before returning to the race
  • you need to carry a pack saddle including a pick, shovel, and gold pan and if you lose these you are disqualified
  • your lead strap can’t be longer than 15 feet and must be attached to the halter ring
  • you cannot be cruel to your burro- no whips, prods, etc. If your burro is mistreated you are disqualified
  • a team = 1 human + 1 burro
  • and finally my favorite- the runner can push, pull, drag or carry the burro but the runner may not ride the burro.

So why on earth would I think this looks like fun? It’s all in the relationship the runners have with their burros. You have to be a team because if your burro doesn’t trust you and you don’t put in the work… you’ll never get there. Reminds me of parenting but you don’t have to pay for braces or college. Burros are smart and they won’t do things that could hurt them, so you have to trust them too. Did you know that they have long whiskers on their chins and they can feel if a plant is poisonous and they won’t eat it?

Ready to see a race? If you live in Colorado and can get to Fairplay you are in luck! The 73rd Burro days and world championship is July 31, 2022 from 10 am (long course start is 10:15 and short course start is 10:30) until 7:30 pm and is the culmination of a celebration of mountain life and burros at Burro days. The weekend also includes pack llama races, llama rama, outhouse races, a kids pack-dog race, and more. Other races can be found at the Western Pack Burro Ass-ociation website. If you can’t make it to the mountains of Colorado, I offer this video taste of all the fun.

While I wait to get my band of burros I am entertaining my self by loving on every burro I meet and making burro themed mugs. I’ve been taking photos of burros and picks and barb wire and more and making silk screens. With the silk screens I can print right on to my pots and I am having a blast doing it. The burro mugs went really fast at the last farmers market but I’m making loads more and will have them at my in-person events this summer if I can pull myself away from all the burros I will see at the races this month.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let\'s keep in touch, sign up for the newsletter!