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A race on the Internet burro trail

An amusing Internet campaign has emerged for officers of the Western Pack-Burro Association as the annual banquet approaches this week. Mostly it’s amusing because in past years we’ve had to draft someone or elect some conspicuously absent person at the banquet.

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“Spike” by Lorie Merfeld Batson

It’s heart-warming to see Lee and Sandi Courkamp among those on the e-mail list for this group, which has served Colorado’s only indigenous sport for more than 30 years. Lee and Sandi are the founders of the organization, which was originally called the Colorado Pack-Burro Racing Association.

In addition to serving as the leader of the association, Lee also was one of the greatest pack-burro racers of all time. He won the World Championship race in 1971 when it was held from Breckenridge to Fairplay, and on the 29-mile course in 1974 and 1982.

Lee’s winning times on the long Fairplay course were 4:14 and 4:16. He also stands out as one of the very few people to run more than two different burros in winning multiple world championships, attesting to his animal-handling/training abilities.

In the mid-90s we had a race in Arizona. To show our support for branching out to neighboring Western states, and to also attract interest from those who might be interested in other burro-related activities, it was decided to change the club’s name. After some discussion we settled on Western Pack-Burro Association.

The annual Burro Banquet will be at 6 p.m. Saturday at Zichittella’s Italian Restaurant in Leadville. Contact Shelley Hall to RSVP if you wish to attend.

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