IWV hosts ‘Run with the Burros, Calif.’

IWV hosts ‘Run with the Burros, Calif.’By KELLY COSNER

News Review Correspondent

On Saturday, Oct. 17, the first annual “Run With the Burros, California” was held in Indian Wells Canyon and the adjacent Short Canyon.

More than 110 participants turned out for the event with over 35 pack burro competitors from all over the United States. The event, which was the first of its kind in California in more than 50 years, consisted of four categories over two courses and began at 7a.m. under clear skies at the base of the Indian Wells Canyon. The categories included runners with and without pack burros on either the 10 mile course or the 26.2 mile marathon course.

For those of you unfamiliar with Pack Burro Racing, the official rules of The Western Pack Burro Association state that a competitor must complete the entire course with their burro and it must remain under their control at all times. The burro must remain on a lead rope of up to 15 feet and must also be outfitted with a pack saddle carrying prospector’s paraphernalia including a pick, shovel and a gold pan. If at any point the two become separated, the competitor must regain control of their burro and return to the point that they became parted before continuing the race or risk disqualification.

According to Race Directors Karin Usko and Her Husband John Auborn of the local pack burro racing group California Breakfast Burritos," One of the most unique aspects of this event, versus those held in other states, was that is was open to both pack burro racers and individual competitors who would rather run without a burro, but on the same course at the same time."

The winner of the 10 mile Pack Burro Race in the men’s category was Patrick Sweeney, who ran in sandals, with Benji the burro at a time of 1:42:27. The winner of the 10 mile Pack Burro Race in the women’s category was Kristen Clark with Chancer the burro at a time of 4:02:39. Many other competitors in the women’s category finished with faster times, but were disqualified for not finishing within the guidelines.

The winners of the 26.2 mile Marathon Pack Burro Race came down to fractions of a second as 4 competitors and their burros crossed almost simultaneously with Lynn Drain and his burro, Muzzy just eking out his competitors in the men’s category with a time of 6:03:19 followed closely by Amber Wann and her burro, Cheeto for the women’s category.

The winner of the 10 mile individuals race in the men’s category was Frederick Herr who set a course record of 1:10:14 and in the women’s category the winner was Molly Zorba with a time of 1:33:11.

The winner of the 26.2 marathon individuals race was Isaac Lowenthal Walsh winning his first ever marathon with a time of 4:22:16."Issac is an 18 year old visitor from Minnesota whose John Muir Trail hike was cut short due to smoke, so he found a burro race instead and made an adventure out of it." said Director Karin Usko. The winner of the women’s category was Vanessa Jones who blew away her competition with a time of 4:40:08 a half an hour before the next female competitor crossed the finish line.

Karin and John worked tirelessly to assure the success of the event and their efforts also allowed for 100% of the event proceeds to go to The Forever Home Donkey Rescue and Sanctuary in Arizona.

"No race has any amount of success without the help of many wonderful volunteers and great sportsmanship. It takes a village and we have the best village!" said Karin.

Karin and John went on to say that, "the participants were so positively affected by our fantastic and friendly community and we were so grateful for the opportunity to show it off."

Karin also wanted to make known their great appreciation for the sponsors of the event: Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, Bernie’s Landscaping, Indian Wells Brewing Co., Desert Valley’s Federal Credit Union, Paul and Son’s Automotive, China Lake Mountain Rescue, Sierra Amateur Radio Club, United Rentals, Faye G Sports Massage, Negative Split Running, Keru Mobile DJ, Bishop Veterinary Hospital, The Western Pack Burro Association and Vitalyte.

Pictured: Carlita Roberts (yellow shirt, cool socks) and Jen Jen (long ears, four legs) during a post-race walk. - Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2020-10-23