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What’s Boulder like, anyway?

July 5, 2012

An excerpt from an email I just sent to a friend:

Boulder is nearly perfect.  We have a strip club, massive indoor marijuana grow factory, VW Camper repair shop, and homeless shelter all just on the other side of our back yard fence.  How cool is that?!  And we’re also within 1/2 mile of the foothill trails to the west and a bunch of cool, local spots to the south (pizza, bakery, coffee shops, thai restaurant, breakfast cafe, and more).  Pretty much every place we’ve been in Boulder has mountain views and the worst of the weather we’ve had here – literally the hottest days ever recorded – felt better than any typical summer day in Chicago and half of the year in Austin.  
 
Be prepared to feel fat, lazy, under-educated, and boring, however.  The typical guy or girl stocking grocery shelves probably was minimally a NCAA champion in something and I think the slowest runner I’ve met has a marathon PR in the 2:40s.  Seriously. People here have visible calf veins and year-round road rash.  A 4-year degree from a state school here is the educational equivalent of making it through middle school in most of the country.  
 
You see people DOING THINGS everywhere, all the time.  It is definitely a lot of work hard, play hard living around here, where a 15 mile run up the side of a mountain is just what you do before breakfast.  That’s also not an exaggeration – any day of the week there are people hiking or biking along the creek or up in the highlands, or running across town at 5:30am and well after dark, and all times in between.
 
The start-up environment is also strong – many people we meet have successful businesses and lots of ideas and resources so I think you’ll enjoy talking with the locals.  Almost nobody is “from” Boulder – I think of the maybe 125 people I’ve met over the age of 15, only one was raised in Boulder.  In addition to the usual suspects – folks from NY, NJ, MA, KY, CA, TX, PA, FL, DE, RI, MI, and at least a half dozen other states – I’ve met people from Kenya, Holland, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Mexico, England, and Nepal.  
 
There’s meaningful diversity here, including international stand-out athletes who live and train here across all sorts of sports including climbing, running (track, road, cross country, and ultras), skiing, swimming, triathlon, and cycling.  But the university also brings in motivated people from all over and many stay after they graduate.  The types of companies that started and have headquarters in Boulder is telling: GoLite, Pearl Izumi, Newton Running, Wild Oats Markets, Celestial Seasonings, and about a 1000 tech companies.  
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