A cancer diagnosis was the impetus for Colorado’s longest-operating charity footrace.
By Vicki Allsopp
On a crisp November afternoon in 1980, a group of people—578 to be exact—decked out in dolphin shorts and other athletic garb, stretched muscles, drank water, and murmured quietly in anticipation. Their backdrop: the golden cliffs and awe-inspiring beauty of Eldorado Canyon State Park. Their playlist: the gurgling waters of South Boulder Creek and sweet whispers of Eldorado Springs’ famous artesian waters.
When Boulder resident Stan Havlick (the organizer of the first run) saw the first Eldorado Run for the Cure (ERC) set into motion (it was called the University of Colorado Cancer Research Run back then), little did he realize that similar scenes would repeat 40 times over. We caught up with Havlick to discuss the history of the event.
Boulder Magazine: Drawing on personal experience and business acumen, you were instrumental in starting something that has, amazingly, lasted four decades. How did it all begin?
Stan Havlick: In 1980, I gained firsthand knowledge of what patients go through after a cancer diagnosis. My wife at the time was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. It was both eye-opening and impelling—I realized that physicians and researchers could always use additional resources. And I was pretty motivated to do something to help.
Our attending oncologist was Dr. William “Bill” Robinson, who happened to live in Eldorado Springs at the time. Bill introduced me to longtime resident Bill Fowler. One thing led to another, and after many discussions and a lot of brainstorming, we started working on a charity run to raise funds for cancer research. We talked to the police about blocking off the roads, and that was the birth of the cancer run. It was a collaborative effort.
BMag: Celebrating its 40th anniversary, this 4.2-mile out-and-back course is now the longest- running nonprofit charity run for cancer in Colorado. To what do you attribute the longevity?
SH: From the beginning, we knew it was essential to receive the blessing of the community. Limited parking and the enclosed nature of the course made congestion in the canyon a real concern. We made a commitment to local police to limit the number of participants. That limit created a type of intimacy and that atmosphere persists to this day. I can’t count the number of people who told me this is their favorite run of the year.
Also, I don’t think it would have lasted this long without the commitment of purpose from the Colorado Cancer Foundation (CCF) board members.
BMag: From the impetus of the ERC, the CCF (www.coloradocancerfoundation.org) was born. To date, CCF has donated in excess of half-a-million dollars to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. What makes funds raised by CCF so unique?
SH: All the proceeds from participant registrations, other charity events, donations from businesses and caring citizens go directly to Anschutz. This is so meaningful because the doctors can sit down together and make a wish list. And we just write them a check.
Recently, CCF was able to make a substantial contribution: we wrote a $13,000 check, helping Dr. Robinson’s lab purchase a much-needed high-powered microscope.
BMag: Avid runner, marathon participant, and award-winning local sports journalist Michael Sandrock has covered the trail both in prose and in well-placed footfalls. Any other noteworthy Coloradans who have participated in the last four decades?
SH: Over the years, we’ve had many runners participate in the ERC who have later gone on to win the BolderBoulder. [The Eldorado Run for the Cure is a qualifier for that event.]
We were honored when Colorado’s own Ellen Hart took to the trail here in Eldorado Springs. Ellen is amazing. Her story of overcoming personal adversity is encouraging, as well as the amazing feat she accomplished in 2015, winning five world titles in her age group.
And I’ll never forget our 1984 event. The governor at the time was Richard Lamm. Due to previous commitments, Governor Lamm wouldn’t be in Colorado on the day of our race. So, he came out to Eldorado Springs and ran the course the day before. Myself, my two sons Erik and Justin, Mike Kearns, and the governor’s brother, Tom, ran alongside him. It was very encouraging to get support like that from a very busy politician at the time.
BMag: On Friday, August 2, Eldorado Run/Walk for the Cure celebrates 40 years. What’s planned to commemorate this awesome milestone?
SH: We’re excited about our t-shirt for this year. Jeremy Martin, the co-founder of Eldorado Springs Natural Water Company, longtime race sponsor and CCF board member, has maintained a collection of 26 T-shirts from past events. We’ve chosen our top 20 favorites from those and the 2019 T-shirt features a collage of past artwork.
We’re anticipating nearly 500 participants this year, so we’ve partnered with Recess Factory, a local run/walk logistics company based in Erie to make sure the event proceeds without a hitch.
Of course, we also plan to carry on our tradition of handing out restaurant gift certificates rather than trophies and ribbons. We’ve been very fortunate over the years to have so many restaurants willing to donate for this cause.
Be a part of Colorado’s longest-running charity footrace!
What: The Eldorado Run for the Cure
Date: Friday, August 2, 2019
6:15 p.m. 1-mile kids’ race ($10 reg. fee)
6:30 p.m. 4.2-mile out-and-back run/walk ($35 reg. fee)
Where: 294 Artesian Drive, Eldorado Springs, CO 80025
Why: To raise funds for cancer research through the nonprofit www.coloradocancerfoundation.org
More: All participants receive a T-shirt, meal and drinks with registration