On paper, it seems like Boulder is the perfect place for a marathon—striking views, ample space, a robust population of fitness enthusiasts. That’s why it was so perplexing to Phil Dumontet when he first moved to Boulder in 2017 that the city didn’t host one downtown. 

“There are a lot of trail runs, and there was the Boulder Backroads Marathon, which was more in the countryside,” says Dumontet, who owns Whole Sol Blend Bar, a local chain of health food restaurants. “But I didn’t find anything that fit the profile in terms of a signature Boulder marathon experience.” 

Lucky for Boulder’s elite athletes, Dumontet decided to fill that gap. For the last four years, he has been working to create Boulderthon, a 26.2-mile race in the heart of downtown. In 2019, Dumontet acquired the Boulder Backroads Marathon; he didn’t want to put an extra strain on the town’s race calendar, and acquiring a competition and bringing it downtown prevented that. To make the Boulderthon quintessentially Boulder, Dumontet focused on course development. The mostly flat, point-to-point route starts at Boulder Reservoir, finishes on the bricks of Pearl Street Mall, and includes striking views (hello, Flatirons). 

The race was slated to debut last October, but that date was pushed back due to COVID-19. The extra year resulted in extra build-up and anticipation. Already, 49 states and four countries are represented, and 3,000 runners of the 3,500 maximum have registered. 

“As a runner myself, I want to make this a race that people can see the benefits of, and to make it a positive day for businesses, the community, and residents to come together,” says Dumontet. 

An afterparty for the event will be held at Avanti Food and Beverage Boulder, the roof of which has a prime vantage point of the finish line. Pearl Street from 15th to 17th streets will also be completely shut down for spectators. 

Dumontet says the Boulderthon will always be held in the fall. For this year only, that means it will have some competition: The Colfax Marathon, which typically happens in May, will also be held in the autumn due to COVID-19-related date changes.

Denverites will even notice that the race’s logos now read “Denver Colfax Marathon,” instead of “Colfax Marathon.” “When you look across the country, the races are normally named after their major metropolitan areas,” says Denver Colfax Marathon CEO Andrea Dowdy. 

To avoid confusion—and to aid runners who are new to Colorado or who are from out of state—the race’s leadership decided to revamp their logo and name. Colfax Avenue lovers need not worry about a course change, though. Runners will still loop through Empower Field at Mile High Stadium and get to take in plenty of Denver’s iconic scenery (Elitch Gardens, the Capitol, Casa Bonita).

We are Colfax through and through,” says Dowdy. “We’ll never remove that from the course.” 

Predictably, you’ll also see expanded COVID-19 safety precautions at races. For example, the Denver Colfax Marathon will have self-serve water stations (instead of being handed water by volunteers), and medals won’t be hung around finishers’ necks—they’ll simply be handed out.

Even with affairs not quite back to normal, both Dowdy and Dumontet echo the excitement they’ve heard from those who have signed up for the races.

“Everyone’s been running during COVID, and a lot of people even picked up the sport,” says Dowdy. “Now, they’re excited to come back and be involved in a big event.”

6 Front Range Marathons to Register for Right Now 

Date: October 10
Races: Marathon, half-marathon

Denver Colfax Marathon
Date: October 16-17
Races: Marathon, half-marathon, 10K, 5K, relay

Colorado Springs Marathon
Date: October 2
Races: Marathon, half-marathon, 5K

Long View Marathon
Date: October 3
Races: Marathon, half-marathon

Windsor Marathon
Date: October 10
Races: Marathon, half-marathon, 10K

Colorado Marathon
Date: October 24
Races: Marathon, half-marathon, 10K, 5K

(Read more: The Beginner’s Guide to Trail Running in Colorado