As they walked to the finish of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials-Marathon last weekend in Orlando, Fla., Bolder Boulder 10K race director Cliff Bosley and his father, race founder Steve Bosley, unexpectedly bumped into an old friend — Olympic marathon gold and silver medalist Frank Shorter, who raced four Olympic Trials marathons during a long career, winning two of them. They were among the thousands of fans running around the spectator-friendly loop course, cheering on the country’s best marathoners vying for spots on the 2024 Paris Olympic team.
Of course the Bosleys and Shorter would be there; like many of us, they are inveterate track fans.
“I love the excitement of the starting line; there’s something about being at a starting line live,” Cliff Bosley recalls his father saying as they settled into a spot where they could see the runners pass by and then view one of the big-screen TVs set up along the course. “I turn around and there’s Frank, coming not as a VIP but as a fan. It is so much fun to be around the sport, so much adrenaline. It was definitely a high point for me.”
The excitement grew as the men’s race unfolded, with the top three finishers all having raced the 2023 Bolder Boulder: Conner Mantz and Clayton Young, both Brigham Young University grads living in Utah, went 1-2 in the trials and will represent the United States in Paris. Mantz won the 2023 Bolder Boulder with a comeback sprint up the Folsom Field hill into the stadium, with Young 11th.
Olympic trials third-place finisher, Leonard Korir of Colorado Springs, placed eighth in last year’s Bolder Boulder. He does not yet have the Olympic marathon qualifying time, but still has a chance to compete in Paris.
“Awesome race,” Cliff Bosley said, adding that before the race start, five of the top eight men as seeded by qualifying times raced the 2023 Bolder Boulder and 25 men and 10 women had previously raced in what has grown to be the sixth largest road race in the nation, just behind the Boston Marathon. “That affirms the Bolder Boulder as an important event on the calendar.”
Would he like these new Olympic marathoners back? Before I finished the question, Bosley said, “Yes! He’s our defending champ and hopefully, the timing works well without interfering with Paris. We’d love to have Conner, Clayton and Leonard here again.”
Emily Durgin, the defending Bolder Boulder women’s winner, was ninth in the trials; the top local finisher was Lindsay Flanagan in eighth. Reed Fischer of Tinman Elite was the top local male finisher, in ninth. World Championship 1500 meter gold medalist Jenny Simpson, making her marathon debut, was with the leaders early on but pulled out later in the race, as did Boulder’s Nell Rojas.
Bolder Boulder professional athlete coordinator Don Janicki said the ideal situation would be for Team USA at Bolder Boulder to be the 2024 Olympic marathon team runners. The Bosleys and Janicki, a 2:11:16 marathoner in his prime, have been through several Olympic cycles and know that sometimes the timing works for Olympians to race a 10K here on Memorial Day, and sometimes it does not.
“We’ll see if they can return, for sure,” Janicki said. “Those guys are coming on strong. Our hospitality helps, and people want to come to Boulder. We’ll see how it plays out.”
Mantz and Young have been training together since their collegiate days at BYU, along with 2016 Olympic marathoner Jared Ward, a solid professional and always competitive presence at the Bolder Boulder. Ward was injured for the trials.
“That is what teamwork does,” Shorter said in a phone interview last week, talking about how Mantz and Young ran together throughout the Olympic trials. Shorter did the same at the 1972 trials, racing with training partner Kenny Moore. “It’s nice to see that some of the way you prepare does not change. ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same’.”
Follow Sandrock on Instagram @MikeSandrock.