“She has the spirit to run,” Leadville local Marvin Sandoval said of his miniature burro Buttercup after winning the Boom Days Pack Burro Race.

At just 33 inches tall, Buttercup is the first miniature burro to have won both Fairplay’s World Championship Pack Burro Race and Leadville’s Boom Days race. The duo will compete for the Triple Crown of Pack Burro Racing next weekend in Buena Vista.

When Sandoval was growing up in Leadville, he never imagined that he would one day race burros. Instead, Sandoval spent much of his 30s focusing on a variety of ultra endurance races and the annual Leadman competition.

But when Sandoval joined former Leadville Race Series Event Manager Paul Anderson on a training run with his burro, Sandoval knew he was hooked. A few months later, Sandoval adopted Buttercup.

In June, the duo placed third in the Creede Donkey Dash, Buttercup’s first race. The pair took the Fairplay title in July, completing the 26.4-mile course just 5 seconds ahead of the runner-up.

On Sunday, they trailed second-place finisher Hal Walter and Full Tilt Boogie on the rocky climb up Mosquito Pass. Buttercup passed Full Tilt Boogie on the way down and maintained a strong lead for the duration of the course.

Sandoval and Buttercup crossed the finish line in 3 hours, 45 minutes, and 38 seconds amidst rainy skies and cheers from Sandoval’s family and local supporters.

Walter rang in his 40th consecutive Leadville race with a second-place finish. Louise Kuehster and Pandora, who will be competing for the women’s triple crown next weekend in Buena Vista, placed third.

Roland Brodeur and Flash won the short course with a time of 2:37:53.

It’s a big weekend coming up for Sandoval, a weekend that some might call crazy, even for a seasoned ultra athlete.

On Saturday, Sandoval will participate in the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike race. If Sandoval completes the race, he will remain eligible for another Leadman title. 

On Sunday, Sandoval and Buttercup will vie for the Triple Crown of Pack Burro Racing at the 13-mile Buena Vista race. Yet to stay in contention for Leadman, Sandoval must also complete the Leadville 10K Run on the same day. The Buena Vista race starts at 10:30 a.m and the Leadville race at noon, leaving Sandoval in a tough position.

“I’m not sure how it will all play out,” Sandoval told the Herald. “But the Triple Crown is my priority.”

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