Lindsey Lighthizer

Lindsey Lighthizer gets ready for the start of the 2014 burro race in Buena Vista.

It has been said that “those we love and lose are always connected by heartstrings into infinity.” When pain is raw, it is visceral.

“I’ve lost my most favorite person in the whole world,” says Lindsey Lighthizer of the sudden and unexpected loss of her partner Curtis Imrie last January.

“When we met, I knew he was something special. We were so much alike and each other’s constant companions. He loved me unconditionally – in a way I had never experienced before.”

Lighthizer met Imrie in 2010 when she was looking to rent a donkey. “I paid Curtis $150 to rent his burro, Gypsy, a wild burro he had adopted from the Bureau of Land Management,” she says. “When I met Curtis, it was as if we recognized each other, even though we had never met. I felt like I knew him even before I got to really know him.”

Even though Lighthizer was more than three decades younger than Imrie, she says, “He was never an old guy to me. He seemed so young. You just never know who you are going to connect with at that heart level.”

She says that when they wintered in San Francisco the age difference was the least weird thing there. “No one batted an eye. In fact,” she says, “Curtis would joke that we were so much the same animal, like two lions in a cage at times. That deep bond will be eternal.”

Lighthizer was born and raised in Zanesville, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio University with an economics degree. She went on to law school at Ohio State and graduated from there in 2009. For the next 6 years she worked for an international law firm and hopes one day to hold a license to practice law in Colorado.

An avid athlete in ultra-distance sports, Lighthizer was sponsored by Trek as a member of a grassroots mountain bike team from 2003-2007.

She raced the Mohican 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race, and just 2 weeks later ran the Mohican 100 Mile Trail Run.

“It was the first time a woman had competed in both races back to back,” she says. “I had the crazy drive to do it, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it now,” she laughs.

Shortly after that, Lighthizer joined a friend in the last 50 miles of the Leadville 100. “That was a challenge, coming from Ohio,” she says. “Curtis ran the Leadville 100 four times, and finished it twice, and at least two times he ran with a burro.”

Lighthizer has climbed 24 fourteeners and some of the Centennial thirteeners. “I like taking alternate routes and stringing peaks together,” she says. She is also intrigued by the Nolan’s Run of 14 fourteeners, though has not committed to that challenge—at least, not yet.

Lighthizer cherished the life she shared with Imrie. “We shared the love of the mountains, the love of literature and film, the donkeys and solitude. We both loved the fact that we lived at the end of a dirt road.”

Mayor Joel Benson signed a proclamation to declare that the Sunday that the burro race is held in Buena Vista will be known as Curtis Imrie Day.

The Buena Vista burro race is part of the Triple Crown of races that includes Fairplay and Leadville.

“Since Curtis helped burro racing gain popularity in Buena Vista, it will be such a tribute to him.” Lighthizer says. This year’s burro race is Sunday, Aug. 13.

Currently, Lighthizer is employed with Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy. “The goats can be both ornery and affectionate, and they really seem to sense my moods,” she says. “They are good therapy for me. Plus, I really enjoy the process of creating an artisanal product with my hands.”

At the end of the day, Lighthizer appreciates the retreat to the home she shared with Imrie.

“It is on the side of Mount Columbia in the sanctuary of National Forest lands on two sides of the property. It’s peaceful, and a space in which I can feel Curtis’s presence there with me.”

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