Bruce Kirschner’s eyes grew large and he gave me a piercing look when I asked him, at the August First Monday Boulder Road Runners meeting, if he thought the club would be able to beat the Fort Collins Running Club at the Sept. 2 FORTitude 10K, which features a club-to-club competition for the first time.

“We are throwing down the gauntlet,” said Kirschner, part of the Boulder Road Runners national over-60 team champions — that is as good as any similar-aged group in the country. “We have the over-60, but the overall scoring could go either way. Fort Collins is a big club with some good runners.

“Bring it on!”

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The Boulder Road Runners 60-69 team placed second at the 2019 USATF Cross Country National Championships in Tallahassee, Fla. From left, Michael Fronsoe, Roger Sayre, Chuck Smead, Bruce Kirschner and Dan Spale.

Kirscher’s response is what race director Cliff Bosley was hoping for when he came up with the club competition as a way to add another dimension to the FORTitude 10K in Fort Collins, which features an innovative USA Pro Chase Challenge in a separate elite race, where runners are given “head starts,” based on their personal best times.

Call this new club race-within-the race another “Rocky Mountain Showdown,” the latest bit of rivalry between Front Range college towns Fort Collins and Boulder. The schools’ football squads face off Aug. 30 at Broncos Stadium at Mile High in Denver.

According to Bosley, who also directs the Memorial Day Bolder Boulder 10K, “The concept is that scoring will be fastest club team over 60 (men and women); fastest under 60 and most participants as a percentage of club size.”

If successful, the club competition could be expanded, he added.

For its part, the Fort Collins Running Club has accepted the challenge, with board member Ken Banwart advising Kirschner and the rest of the Boulder Road Runners to not count on bringing the new traveling trophy back to Boulder just yet.

“Boulder will win the over-60, but we have the numbers, and the rest is up for grabs,” Banwart said in a phone interview. He said the Fort Collins club, started in the early 1980s, has seen tremendous growth in the past decade, growing from a bit more than 100 runners in 2011 to more than 800 members today.

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The Fort Collins Running Club, with roughly 800 members, says it might have the numbers to beat the Boulder Road Runners at the Sept. 2 FORTitude 10K in Fort Collins.

The Boulder Road Runners, celebrating its 40th anniversary, has 384 members, according to club president Bill Buffum. Under founder Rich Castro, the club was integral to the growth of local running, Some of the original members are still there, active into their golden years. The club strength, in addition to its group training runs, is volunteering. Some members are USATF certified officials, and members are a ubiquitous presence at University of Colorado track meets and local road races, seemingly always ready to help out.

The Boulder Road Runners have traditionally been strong up front, from Olympians such as Benji Durden, Frank Shorter, Rolando Vera and Arturo Barrios down through young age-groupers. This year is no exception, with the over-60 squad featuring a star-studded lineup, headlined by 2019 World Masters half marathon gold medalist Roger Sayre and USATF masters Hall of Famer Doug Bell. Kirschner, masters half marathon gold medalist in the 2017 Maccabiah Games (known as the “Jewish Olympics”), is the team captain.

The Road Runners won the USATF Masters Grand Prix national championship for the men’s 60-69 age group in 2015 and 2017 and placed second in 2016 and 2018, along with several other podium finishes as well as numerous individual medals.

“Those guys can run,” said Banwart. “They are going to be tough. They are super strong, and there really is no way we can compete with Boulder right now over 60. But we have quality runners, too, and also a lot of beginning runners, family runners. Cliff (Bosley) is an idea guy, and the way it will be scored, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.”

And, Banwart added, no matter which club takes home the inaugural title, “This will be great fun, and I expect it will be the beginning of something big.”

Contact Mike Sandrock at


FORTitude 10K

Monday, Sept. 2  8 a.m

Cost: $54/adults; $44 kids/seniors. Fee increases Aug. 26

Registration: www.fortitude10k/

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