Library showing documentary that celebrates pack burro racing
Ryan Summerlin April 22, 2012
Do you know the only sport that is indigenous to Colorado? It’s pack burro racing, in which competitors lead (not ride) their burro companions along miles of mountainous trails and obstacles in a race to the finish line.
The public is invited to attend a free screening of the documentary film “Haulin’ Ass” at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Avon Public Library. The event will feature guest Hal Walter, a pack burro racer who is featured in the film and is the author of two books on the subject: “Wild Burro Tales: Thirty Years of Haulin’ Ass and Pack Burro Stories.”
As depicted in “Haulin’ Ass,” the pace of individual competitors can range from a flat-out run to a standstill, due to burros’ cautious nature. But it’s certainly a physically demanding competition when you combine the high altitude and the several-hundred-pound variable attached to the lead rope. That’s why they call it a “burro” race, not a human race. Racers learn early to respect the animal, that a sense of humor is an absolute requirement, and that egos must be checked at the starting line.
This documentary follows Curtis Imrie, an old-time racer who returns annually, driven by a passion for the sport and the community; Roger Pedretti, who travels from La Crosse, Wis., to carry the torch of a family legacy; and Walter, a family man with a true talent for the sport who is still discovering what burro racing truly means to him.
“While the movie may outwardly appear to be just about pack burro racing,” Walter said, “it’s really about much more than that as (director) Trevor Velin delves into our lives and the psychology behind our participation in this sport.”
Vail local Shelley Hall is about to enter her eighth season of burro racing on the Colorado circuit. She was included in the original footage for “Haulin’ Ass,” but won’t find out until Thursday if she made the final cut.
“I do it for the love of the donkeys,” Hall said. “The donkeys, the outdoors, and Colorado history.”
The Colorado burro racing season runs from late May through September. There are now five events in five mountain towns. Each event is part of a festival celebrating the town’s history. The Triple Crown races are in Fairplay, Leadville and Buena Vista. The remaining two races are in Georgetown and Idaho Springs.
Now Showing@EVLD offers free film screenings throughout the year. All film screenings are free and open to the public. Films may not be appropriate for all audiences.