First Lady of FoCo running gets FORTitude registration started

fortitude_logo_200Registration for the inaugural FORTitude 10K Labor Day Classic is officially open.

Fittingly, the First Lady of Fort Collins distance running, Libby James, will be the first official entrant. James, who reigns as one of the top female masters runners in the world, is looking forward to the FORTitude 10K and what it will bring to the city.

“I am really excited about this race,” she said. “I think it will be great for the city and will show everyone what a great running community we have here in Fort Collins.”

The FORTitude 10K is set for Sept. 4, 2017, and is destined to become a Labor Day weekend classic. The race begins just west of the CSU campus, winds through some of the city’s iconic neighborhoods and attractions before ending at CSU’s new on-campus stadium.

First stadium event

The race will be the first official event at the stadium, which will host its first football game Sept. 9 when the Rams host Abilene Christian.

Libby James
Libby James

“Libby James is a BolderBOULDER running legend and has placed in the top twenty all-time of her age 28 times between 1983 and 2016, including ten all-time bests,” said race director Cliff Bosley. “Not only is she a huge inspiration but she is also very influential in the northern Colorado running  community and we are thrilled to have her involved in the inaugural FORTitude 10K.”

James, 80, recently was named USA Track and Field’s athlete of the week after breaking the women’s 5K road race record Oct. 2 at the Syracuse (N.Y.) Festival of Races. Her time of 25:11 shattered the previous American record in the 80-84 age group by more than 4 minutes, and the world record by more than 3 minutes.

World-class runner

James, a CSU alumna (MA English ’71), currently holds one world record and five American records for distances from 5K to half-marathon. And she just might be most unlikely record-holder on the planet.

James didn’t start running until 1971 at age 35, and ran only a mile a day for the first five years, using the time to “clear her head” while raising four kids in Fort Collins. She ran her first race in 1976 and her first marathon in 1978.

“I’ve been very, very lucky to never have a serious injury,” she explained, noting that minor knee and Achilles’ tendon issues are her only setbacks. “I’ve never been a believer in making yourself go out and run, but I also know that if I can get a run in it’s going to be a good day.”

To preserve her knees for future races her running schedule is fairly light: 4 miles every other day, and a 10-miler on the weekends. She walks 4 miles on the in-between days.

Remarkably prolific runner

James has run 10 marathons, numerous half-marathons and countless 10K and 5K races. She figures she has run the BolderBoulder 10K 30 times, and has run more than 42,000 miles in her career. For perspective, that’s more than 1½ times around the world.

Still, while running has been a big part of her life the past 45 years she keeps it in perspective. She has been a prolific journalist and writer for decades, and she repurposes used tea bags into art for a business called “Old Bags.” She’s delighted that three of her four children and most of her 12 grandchildren are runners, too.

“That, to me, is the coolest thing – passing my love for running down to my kids and grandkids,” she said. “I love running with all of them.”

Registration begins Nov. 1, and is open to the first 10,000 to sign up. Early registration is $45 for adults and $35 for kids under 14, seniors 65 and older, and for military. Prices increase starting June 1.