Donkey Derby Days

Another thing I’ve been wanting to do, Donkey Derby Days in Cripple Creek, Colorado… like forever. Almost skipped out again but when faced with going home for cooking andΒ  cleaning it was a no brainer. A quick drive to Cripple and me and the doggies were headed for main street to see the action. Unfortunately, one of the first events was the doggy contests on the main stage and Son Boy wasn’t down for the whole contest idea. He just wanted to go play with all the doggies, which made it difficult to take pictures, stand still, stand up, or do any kind of normal festival activity. So off they went back to the truck in the nice cool parking garage for a nap 😦

Donkey WalkingI was expecting to see more of the indigenous donkey herd but there were a few donkeys owned by locals that were giving rides to kids that made for a good photo op. Donkeys and owners alike were decked out in amazing period costumes. Watched some donkey rides and a few of the doggy contests before retiring to the beer garden for a nice cold Belgian White before the main event was to take place, the famous donkey races… Enjoyed watching the music, including the Air Force Academy Band and taking in the sights… all the vendors and visitors in an amazing colorful old west scene!

Finally 1:30 rolled around and I staked out a vantage point where I could get some good shots. I watched through my long lens as the donkeys and people racers prepared at the starting line up by the Jail Museum. Finally, the gunshot and off they went! Right through the people and up Bennett Avenue towards the east end of town. Probably about a half dozen semi reluctant burros streamed past me on their journey to the finish line. Tried to get some video, but obviously I have not perfected that skill yet 😦Derby Winner

Don’t know who won the thing, doesn’t really matter to me, I just wanted to be part of this experience at least once! The local donkeys have an interesting history. They are believed to be the direct descendants of the burros used by the gold rush miners of the area’s old west origin over a century ago. The animals roam the streets freely in the summertime and enjoy receiving special donkey treats that can be obtained for a donation in many of the local establishments.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

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Coincidence

Going through the nearly 8,000 images I captured over the summer and fall making sure I have all the editorial photographs uploaded to iStock for the big transfer to Getty Images that is supposed to occur sometime shortly after the first of the year. One of my major photography goals for the summer was to photograph the Garden of the Gods 10 Mile Run. It is a special race for me as it was my first run in excess of the 10K distance many years ago, plus for my stock photography business I am well aware that the scenery and splendor of the race will be invaluable in my portfolio.

Most of my year prior to that had been taken up by Tricia’s illness and the necessary activities pursuant to her death that were required in order for me to move on with my life. Finally in June the stormy skies of hardship were starting to part and there was time to start thinking about beginning a life of my own, on my own. I was determined to capture this race so I made sure I was up early on that Sunday morning and in the park before all the roads were closed. Fortunately I was there in time to get a good parking spot in the park with plenty of time to get my gear ready and find a good vantage point.

Within a couple of hours the race was winding down and I was satisfied that I had a sufficient collection of images to tell the story of the race in an article for the Examiner and also for some good stock imagery as well. On my way back to the car I looked back and noticed some nice scenery and a view of the tiny runners headed back to Manitou Springs and the finish line. So I stopped and unpacked the camera for a few more images.

SummerI didn’t know until today how special one of those images would be to me. I hadn’t even heard of the Intemann Trail and had no idea that I would be exploring that and many other historic trails in the area over the rest of the summer. No idea that I would meet a special friend that I had only known by the words and pictures now possible through the miracle of the internet.

Today as I neared the end of the images to upload, one stood out. As I soaked it in I realized that this one image summarized my whole summer. My activities, my new friendship and a passing from my old life to a new life filled with promise and hope for the future. In this one image is the start of summer, the race, the fulfillment of a years long desire. In the background, Red Mountain, Iron Mountain, the path of the Intemann Trail, a summer’s worth of memories and the representation of a new friendship.

At the time this image was captured I had no idea that I would climb those mountains, hike those trails, write of their history, including the legend of Emma Crawford and cultivate a new friendship. Now as I look at that image, I am amazed that so much could be captured in one simple picture.

Holidays BT

Have been struggling to come to grips with the first holiday season I will be spending without Trica in 27 years. Last year Tricia was in the wheelchair not able to do any cooking but my sweet friend and awesome gourmet cook, Heike, invited us over to her and Pat’s house for a wonderful day of turkey and excellent old world German cooking. I have been dreading the holidays for a few weeks now, unsure of what it is going to be like to be alone when everyone else is enjoying their families. Now obviously I could just go back to Iowa and have Thanksgiving with my huge beautiful family there if it weren’t for the wreckage of life after cancer and death that I am dealing with here in Colorado at the time. On the other hand after the loss of a life partner you feel alone no matter how many people you surround yourself with.

Ooops, blog post running of the tracks again. So anyway I have been thinking about this a lot lately and last night I dreamed I was running the Mile High Turkey Trot four mile race with a dear friend from what seems like a previous lifetime. When I awoke thinking about the dream it started to come back to me that for quite a few years running the race WAS the way I celebrated Thanksgiving. As far as I was concerned it was the way TO celebrate Thanksgiving. Up at sunrise, pin on the number and head out into a cold blast of November morning air in your shorts and t-shirt. No turkey to buy, no mess to clean up, no relatives to bicker with. Food, no problem… only a runner can appreciate the joy of drinking a cold beer at 10:00 a.m. in your sweaty running clothes in frigid temperatures surrounded by hundreds or even thousands of like minded people. It doesn’t get any better than that πŸ™‚ If the post race snack and libations aren’t enough, someone is always having a Thanksgiving brunch, and a gourmet champagne breakfast is probably cheaper than having to buy a turkey with all the trimmings.

So anyway, that was how Thanksgiving was done before Tricia, or BT as I now call it. Tricia, however had a different idea of how Thanksgiving was supposed to be run and come to think of it, the race was a great source of friction when we first got married. She was mad that I was never there to help start cooking the huge meal that I didn’t want. So year after year the fighting continued until I eventually wore down and gave up the race. Years went by and the Thanksgiving race faded from memory completely, until last night.

So anyway, as I continue down this road back to my life that once was, I remember that I was 30 when we met. I had my own life, my own way of doing things and my own ideas of how things were supposed to be. Little by little it is coming back and I am realizing how much I have missed the freedom of life BT! Well, better get going, this blog has given me an idea for an Examiner Article! Time to write about all the Turkey Trots going on in the Front Range on the Turkey Day! Turkey Day? Who knows, maybe I’ll run the race! It has been a long time but I think if I can claw my way to the top of the Manitou Inline I can probably jog a few miles for a breakfast beer at the finish line in Wash Park πŸ™‚

Pikes Peak Ascent

Wow, what an adventure today was! Last night I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. to get an early start on my day photographing the Pikes Peak Ascent, but the alarm proved to be unnecessary as I awoke at 4:20 a.m. on my own wired up and ready to go! One cup of coffee and a couple of toasted frozen waffles later I was on my way down the pass. My parking plan worked perfectly as I pulled into the end spot in the free parking area at the middle school. A short walk down the hill and I was in the midst of the action, albeit an hour early.

Finish Line

Pikes Peak Ascent Finish Line

I needed a few minutes to get my equipment ready and talk to the race officials so that was fine with me. A couple of nice people described to me in detail how I would be able to get a ride to the peak in the media van and I just wanted to pat them on their heads and say to them, β€œSilly people, if you only knew me you would know that there isn’t a chance on God’s green earth that I will be in that van when it leaves.”… Got some great shots of the race start, including some of our next Runners World Cover Girl, Jill Howard πŸ™‚ Sure enough, when the time came the media van was nowhere to be found but I fortunately ran across the guys hauling the time keeping equipment to the top and hitched a ride with them.

Pikes Peak Highway is amazing. It winds around all over that mountain giving fantastic views in almost every direction imaginable. From there I could see Woodland Park and Rampart Reservoir, the Springs, South Park and from the summit you can probably see the Atlantic and Pacific if your eyes are good enough! Well that could be a slight exaggeration, but suffice it to say you can see a long ways.

On my way through the Summit House at 14,115 feet I reached into the pocket of my photography vest to get my sunglasses and felt a piece of paper. What do you know if it wasn’t a $20 bill. So I bought some food and as I ate breakfast I knew this was going to be a great day! It only takes the fastest men a little over two hours to run the thirteen miles from Manitou town center to the top so that only left me about 20 minutes to get into position. I hiked down the mountain a few switchbacks and found a spot with a good view and waited for the action. It wasn’t long before I had the first place man and woman in the bag so I headed down a bit further for a different view.

I had found out from Jill what her predicted finish time was and I liked my original location better so as the time for her finish drew near I hiked back up the trail to try to get a shot of her nearing the finish line. And right on time, there she was with a big smile and a greeting! After all these years I finally met her in person πŸ™‚ At that point with almost 500 images on the chip I decided to just make my way to the top and chat with her and William for a while. So great to talk with them in person after so many years of internet friendship.

I heard the train whistle for the Cog Railway and I have been wanting to get a shot of that train for so long… so up to the peak for the train shots. Word to the wise.. there could be two trains, not one! The train headed out and I ran along the tracks to get a shot of it descending down the mountainside when I heard another whistle right behind me. Yikes… a second train bearing down on me. Fortunately it didn’t have time to get up much speed at that point so I just hopped off the tracks and took advantage of a second chance at the pictures πŸ™‚

After that, nothing much to do but get back down to Manitou. There were plenty of shuttle vans taking the runners back down and my handy staff and press pass badges were good for a free trip back to the bottom. Once my feet were on the ground in Manitou, dressed for 14,000 feet I thought I was going to die in the 90 degree heat. Luckily it was only a few blocks to my air conditioned Miata. Now… to process 500 pictures and write an article for the Examiner. I’m sure it will be an easy task to write of such an awesome experience πŸ™‚

Be sure to subscribe to my Examiner news feed so you will be sure to receive notification as soon as the article is published!

Catching Up

Looks like I’m getting a bit behind with my writing. Summer brings so many opportunities for activities that it is difficult to keep up with the writing about them! As the snow melts, there are new trails to explore, festivals to attend, sporting events to cover, not to mention daily activities made so much more enjoyable by the glow of the early summer sun.

Bison-Peak-Hikers

Bison-Peak-Hikers

A couple of years ago I purchased a new book on hiking the lost creek wilderness with the intent of exploring a new part of Colorado that I had never seen before. It took two years to get to it, but last weekend I finally got to try out one of the trails. It was a long trail to an elevation I have not seen in a long time, the Bison Peak Trail in the Tarryall Mountains. I have to say, it was a tough slog for me, but I did manage to get up and back down and take in some new vistas that I had never seen. I have even managed to put out an article on the Examiner so others can follow in my steps and enjoy this wonderful place as well.

It has been a busy month already, with a trip out to Buena Vista for the whitewater festival there along with hikes into the local woods in an attempt to document springtime in the Rockies with images of the changing mountains and wildlife entering their active springtime routines.

It is going to be a busy month for S.W. Krull Imaging with a Sierra Club hike, the Fibark whitewater festival in Salida, the Garden of the Gods Ten Miler and a trip to visit the wolves at the rescue center. Stay tuned, it is going to be a great summer!

Springing Ahead

How to go on with the “Sword of Damocles” hanging over your head. With every day a struggle it is hard to think, hard to be creative, and difficult to find the time to do anything. But as I was thinking about daylight savings time going into effect next weekend an idea popped into my head. I remembered my training for the Leadville 100 mile run days and daylight savings time was always a welcome event. It meant running in the light after work before the cold of sundown could set in. From there my mind turned to springtime running and the fun of running in the spring races. My very first race was a spring run in Wash Park, I think it was called the Make a Wish 10K. Unfortunately I wasn’t too savvy about racing back then and pushed it too hard injuring a few tendons and putting myself out of commission for a couple of weeks. But I recovered and now have memories of running along the Highline Canal that spring that I will never forget.

Running of the Green

Running of the Green

At any rate I did manage to put together an article for the Examiner on the springtime running schedule. It is going to be a great spring for runners looking for races to compete in and I hope to be able to run in a couple of them and maybe get a few pictures and do some writing for the Examiner about the action. I am planning to put together an article on ultra marathoning and the spring schedule for that as well, so be sure to subscribe to my Examiner news feed and you will get an email notification each time I publish!

Social Running

If I could think of a year in my life that reminds me of this one it might be 1986. The year 1985 had been a particularly tough one and as a result of all the stress I was losing a lot of sleep. At the time I was way overweight from physical inactivity and wasn’t exercising at all after having finished four months of 12 hour days at the end of a major software delivery project. I had just gone through a divorce, was broke and missed my kids terribly.

trail running

Winter trail running

What followed was an amazing journey from from the lowest point in my life to one of the highest. I guess you could say that 12,600 feet of elevation on the top of Hope Pass in the Leadville Trail 100 would be considered a high point! On a dark and hopeless evening in 1986 I decided to do something positive and dragged out a pair of worn out Nike running shoes to plod out my first mile in many years. By April I had built up enough miles to run my first 10K, the Run for the Make a Wish Foundation in Wash Park, Denver.

Like then, last year’s battle against Tricia’s cancer left almost no time for exercise and once again I’m not in the physical condition that I would like to be. So this year again has me working on a training plan and I am thinking others may be thinking of taking the plunge as well and have been writing some Examiner articles on this year’s running scene. Fellowship with other runners is a big part of motivation so this winter I am highlighting the subject of Social Running and will be interviewing Jamie from the University Village Colorado Running Club for my next Examiner article. So stay tuned, 2015 is going to be a great year for running! Click the subscribe to author button at the bottom of each article or the subscribe button on my Examiner profile and you will receive an email each time a new article goes live so you don’t miss anything!