Larkspur couple snags Donkey Derby Race Crown

6-30derby day winners webLarkspur couple snags Donkey Derby Race Crown

Rick Langenberg

Move over American Pharoah.

Buoyed by a strong start and with the help of super-fast Scratch, Eric and Megan Kelly of Larkspur won the annual Donkey Derby race competition last Sunday in Cripple Creek by a comfortable margin.

It marked the first Derby race for the couple, who enjoy attending Colorado festivals.

We just got off to a running start and tried to keep up with our donkey (Scratch), said Eric Kelly. He also gave much credit to Megan, who is a hard-core running buff. The Kelly team sprinted to a quick downhill start around the courthouse and never looked back. Similar to the antics of American Pharoah at the Belmont Stakes, they never trailed and breezed to convincing victory. About 10 teams, offering a variety of backgrounds, competed in the race in what turned into a swift dash downtown.

Spectators who tried to keep up with the towns donkeys from the beginning of the course to the end, faced losing odds.

The competitive donkey race, which extended from the jail museum to the Cripple Creek District Museum, marked one of the highlights of the 84th running of Donkey Derby Days, a festival that celebrates the mining districts heyday with a spree of games, contests and a grand parade. The event attracted large crowds and enjoyed favorable weather.

We love Colorado festivals and really enjoyed this event, said Eric Kelly. That said, the couple admitted the 9,400-foot-plus altitude posed some tough challenges.

The winning donkey race champs, who plan to return next year, lauded the way regular festival-goers could compete in the race.

In earlier years, the race extended from Victor to Cripple Creek. But this course proved to be too difficult for many competitors.

In recent years, the course has been limited to the downtown area and has attracted a good following. The event also features a businessmans race for a shorter race area that uses wild donkeys.

Donkey Derby Days is sponsored by the Two Mile High Club, which oversees the herd that is regarded as one of the best attractions in town.