Photo by Marty France, FB/Western Pack Burro Association Photographers.
Pack burro racing debuts in Arizona with Superior Burro Run
On October 12, 2019, the Town of Superior’s Chamber of Commerce will sponsor the Superior Burro Run, the first BurroCross event in Arizona. BurroCross is Arizona’s adaptation of Pack Burro Racing, a sport that has been popular in Colorado for over 70 years. BurroCross involves “burros” (the Spanish term for donkeys) that are led in-hand by human cross-country trail runners, thus forming a unique human-burro team. The Superior Burro Run will launch with a pre-run ceremony at 9 a.m. on E. Main Street in the historic mining town of Superior, where burros once roamed freely throughout town. The runners and their burros will then depart, traversing either a 6-mile introductory course or a 12-mile competitive course through Superior and the Tonto National Forest, before returning to the finish line on E. Main Street. Runners are required to pre-register and bring a burro. Spectators are encouraged to attend this exciting, family-friendly event, which will also feature a beer garden and vendors. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will also be set up just off Main Street with burros available to the public for sale or adoption. One may either adopt an untrained burro or purchase one that has been trained through the Inmate Training Program. Those interested in leaving the Superior Burro Run with a new burro should review the BLM facility and eligibility requirements in advance. http://www.blm.gov/whb
As a nod to the historic use of burros in mining, Pack Burro Racing began as a way to foster economic growth in Colorado’s small mining towns. According to Monique Wylde Williams, who gentles wild BLM burros for public adoption and is the founder of Arizona BurroCross, Arizona is a prime candidate to adopt the quirky sport — the state produces more wild BLM burros than any other.
Traditionally, Pack Burro Racing requires the animals to carry a pack containing a pick, shovel, and pan, with different weight requirements depending on the burro’s size. BurroCross, on the other hand, allows packs but does not require them, and there is no weight requirement. Instead, BurroCross focuses on cooperation between the runners and their animals, as well as a competitive yet fun atmosphere that prioritizes the burro’s welfare.
The Superior Burro Run is open to 50 participants and their animals. Burros of all sizes and types — ranging from mini to mammoth, formerly wild to domestic — are welcome to participate, but mules and horses are prohibited. While Arizona donkey rescues, such as Forever Home Donkey Rescue in Benson and Lucky A Ranch in Alpine, have a few trained burros to lend, runners are encouraged to borrow or bring their own. In order to run the competitive course, the burro must be at least three years of age. Younger burros may run or walk the introductory course. All burros must be at least two years of age. Prior to the event, runners will be able to camp overnight at the Box 8 Ranch in Superior. After the race begins and runners depart from E. Main Street, they will weave through the scenic Tonto National Forest, past the historic “ghost townsite” of Pinal City and into the treasured Arnett Canyon via the Legends of Superior Trail (LOST Trail).
Offering an intriguing course for runners and a festive atmosphere for spectators, the Superior Burro Run promises to be a fun and unique event for the whole family (burros are friendly and great with children!). The organizers of the race ask that spectators leave dogs and other animals at home. For more information and to register, visit http://www.superiorarizonachamber.org or the Arizona BurroCross Facebook page, or contact the Superior Chamber at 520-689-0200.