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The ‘Pack Burro Ass-ociation’ heading up the burro race in Buena Vista during Gold Rush Days saw not just one Triple Crown winner, but two. Louise Kuehster and her burro taking first in the Women’s Triple Crown, and Hayden Blom winning in the Youth category. The five-town “Triple Crown” burro race is a growing summertime event across the central Colorado Rockies.

In the women’s competition, the team of Louise Kuehster and Pandora crossed the finish line of the 13.5-mile race with a time of (01.55:16.47). Tracy Laughlin and Mary Margaret finished just seconds behind with a time of (01:55:16.89). The two women came in ahead of the men’s triple crown winner.

Throughout the mountainous terrain, Kuehster and second-place winner, Laughlin and Mary Margaret were hot on each other’s tails with Laughlin in the lead most of the way. Kuehster, stopping to help Laughlin make a quick adjustment to Mary Margaret’s pack saddle, was still able to take the lead in the homestretch. Kuehster uses a command “Go home!” which signals Pandora to give it all she’s got in the final stretch.


According to the Pack Burro Racing Facebook page, the Buena Vista Pack Burro Race is the only Triple Crown race that acknowledges youth. This honor goes to 11-year-old Hayden Blom from Conifer. She came in 42nd out of 70 entrees.

All the burros except for mini burros must carry a pack saddle with 33 pounds of mining gear, including a pick and shovel on its pack saddle. Mini burros don’t have any weight limits in their pack saddle.

Startline of the Buena Vista pack burro race Aug. 11. Tracy Laughlin with Mary Margaret on the left. Tracy and Mary Margaret completed the race in second place.

The Western Pack Burro Association oversees burro racing, and the sport continues to grow in popularity in several mountain towns. Many of the burros have been adopted from rescues throughout the state of Colorado.

Pack Burro Racing Rules

There are a few rules for pack burro racing. They include: Contestant and burro starting the race must remain a team throughout the contest. No assistants will be allowed to accompany any team. The runner may push, pull, drag or carry the burro. The burro must be led or driven by a halter and lead rope no longer than 15 feet. Riding is not allowed.

The burro’s nose must cross the finish line first to constitute the winner.

The burro racing season runs from late May through September. There are presently 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.

Lousie Kuehster is adjusting Pandora’s straps at the registration area of the Buena Vista pack burro station. (Photos by Sandy Hobbs)

According to Wide Open pet website, the sport owes its heritage to Colorado’s 19th-century miners who used burros to carry their tools and supplies through the Rocky Mountains. The miners walked alongside the burros (also known as donkeys) since the burros carried full supply loads.

The sport has its roots during the Colorado gold rush. According to legend, two miners discovered gold in the same place, so they raced each other back to town to stake a claim to the property, their burros running alongside.