Stan Havlick was a busy bank vice president back in the fall of 1979 when he received a wake-up call: a family member had been diagnosed with cancer.
Rather than wringing his hands, Havlick put his business skills to work, teaming up with researcher William Robinson to start one of the earliest Boulder Country road races, the University of Colorado Cancer Research Run, in the fall of 1980.
There were not many local road races then — the Bolder Boulder 10K had launched just the previous year — and Havlick's race drew Olympic runners such as Steve Jones, Lorraine Moller, Benji Durden and Silvio Guerra, along with many of the elite Japanese corporate runners, brought in by Boulder Wave for training camps.
Now called the Run for a Cure, the 38th version of the family-friendly race is set for Thursday evening (eldorado4mile.org or 303 995-8130); the kids' race starts at 6:15 p.m., followed by open runners at 6:30 p.m. Part of the Cure's appeal is the setting, with its dramatic start and finish next to the Artesian pool in front of the towering cliff faces made famous by climbers from around the world. The Cure — the final evening race of the year — features a beautiful out-and-out-back course and still supports the same worthwhile mission — funding research to find a cure for cancer.
"This is a special race for a couple of reasons," cancer survivor Jerry Lee, of Newton Running, said a couple of years ago when he decided to sponsor the race. "All the funds go to cancer research. It is small enough that you feel a part of it and that you are making a difference."
Making a difference is what Robinson and Havlick are all about, according to race director Johannes Schmidt, a volunteer like all those in the race organization. Schmidt went on a tour of Robinson's Melanoma Research Laboratory at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver earlier this month and came away impressed.
"It was amazing to see all the research Dr. Robinson and his group are doing," said Schmidt. "We saw the microscope that was purchased with funds raised by the race."
Havlick also goes on fundraising world mountaineering and bicycle tours, and between the Run for the Cure and his bicycle tours, he and others have raised more than $500,000 for the Colorado Cancer Foundation (coloradocancerfoundation.org).
The size of the field fluctuates, with 300 expected this year, with as many as 700 competing during the 1980s. "It is a fun, intimate race that gives so much back," said Schmidt, adding that Havlick remains the spark behind the Run for the Cure. "Stan started this out of passion, and he has kept it rolling all these years. You get to talk to everyone in the race, and the town comes out and joins in. It is just a really fun night."
The fun part for some comes after the run, when runners are able to jump in the Eldorado Springs pool, fed by the famous artesian spring water. There are always many giveaways -- Havlick is a persuasive guy -- and bountiful amounts of Pasta Jay food and Avery beer. Heading out to Eldorado Springs Thursday evening is a chance to spend an evening with old and new friends, savor the end of summer, and perhaps reflect on Havlick's reason for starting the race:
"Let's help if we can; let's just be better; and let's make every day count. Every day is a gift."
FORTitude 10K, NED*NED:
The fall racing season kicks off with another venerable county race along with the newest entrant to the race calendar. The Ned*Ned (nednedrun.com), formerly the Neder-Nederland, set for Sept. 9, is another cozy, long-time local race.
It is now part of the Colorado Mountain Half Series, along with races in Estes Park and Georgetown. The Ned*Ned is a fundraiser for TEENS, Inc. and includes a 5K, 10K and half marathon.
The first annual FORTitude 10K (fortitude10k.bolderboulder.com) will be held Labor day, offering a unique prize money structure. Organized by the Bolder Boulder, the race will finish in the new Colorado State University football stadium.
And on Sept. 17, a lucky few of you will be able to hike the popular Chautauqua Lower Meadow Loop Trail with polar explorers John Huston and Odd Harald Hague, as part of the annual Jaipur Literature Festival. Called the "Hike and Hang," it is a chance to ask these well-known adventurers and authors how they keep fit for their world peringations, including the North and South poles and Mount Everest. (jaipurliteraturefestival.org/boulder/hike-and-hang/).
Contact Mike Sandrock at firstname.lastname@example.org.