George Zack of Broomfield came in first in the 64th Annual World Championship Pack Burro race in Fairplay on July 29. He, with burro Jack, finished with a time of 5:25:28, beating Karen Thorpe’s winning time of 5:41:50 in the 2011 race.
Second place was taken by veteran pack burro racer Hal Walter of Westcliffe. He had a a time of 5:55.04.
As of 5:10 p.m. on July 29, the third-place finisher was undetermined because all contenders were still on the course.
The race is the first leg of the Triple Crown of Pack Burro Races. It is followed by the Boom Days Pack Burro Race August 5 in Leadville and the Gold Rush Days Pack Burro Race August 12 in Buena Vista.
In the 14.5 mile short race in Fairplay, first was taken by Thorpe – winner of the long course last year. She is a recent new resident of Durango, formerly from Salida. Her time was 2:09.28, beating last year’s winning time of 2:09.47 by Thorpe’s good friend, Barb Dolan. Thorpe raced with burro Kokomo; Dolan did not race in Fairplay this year.
The short race was previously believed to be 15 miles, but the race committee used a global positioning system earlier this year and found the course was 14.5 miles.
Second place in the short course was Steve Kuehster of Castle Rock and burro Finnegan with a time of 2:12.38. The pair placed second in the short course last year with a time of 2:09.54.
Coming in third in the short course was Tim White of New Mexico with a time of 2:12.55.
Guessing closest to the winning time was Chet Halbleib of Alma, who was five seconds off with his guess of 5:25.33.
There were 55 racers in Fairplay’s long- and short-course race this year, up from 35 in 2011. Of those, 45 raced the short course and 10 raced the long course.
Race officials, Bill Reeves, official timekeeper and W. Flint Smith, back-up announcer and flag team member, attribute the increase in participants to additional media coverage of pack burro racing in the past year and because pack burro racing was named an official Colorado Summer Heritage Sport by the Colorado legislature in May.