Summer like an Olympian

BoCo’s elite athletes on their favorite spots of the season

Maddie Godby rides the gravel road near Boulder Reservoir. Credit: Natalie Starr

Boulder County is home to a deep roster of Olympic athletes past and present, from homegrown heroes like long-distance runner Elise Cranny to relative BoCo newcomers like marathon runner Jake Riley. 

With the 2024 Paris Olympic Games right around the corner, Boulder Weekly asked four elite athletes how they like to spend their summers, so you can train, eat and relax like an Olympian. 

Cranny says growing up in Boulder County’s active and outdoor-centric environment played a major role on her path to becoming an Olympian.  

“I think the community inspired a work ethic and just seeing from a young age of like, ‘OK, this is what it means to work hard,’” she says. “And how energizing and important health, exercise and wellness are … I just feel lucky that is something I was exposed to so young. I feel like it will always be a big part of my life.”

While Cranny and Olympic triathlete Gwen Jorgensen are still vying for spots in Paris, Riley and cyclist Maddie Godby have retired from Olympic pursuit. 

“[Retirement] is really fun because you get to explore,” Godby says. “Even though being an elite athlete is so cool and it is such a privilege, that lifestyle can be very restrictive in order to do your sport well. Getting to get out and do activities you haven’t been able to do and kind of explore a little bit more has been really, really fun.”

Train like an Olympian 

Like so many other Coloradans, these world-class athletes find themselves gravitating toward the outdoors for their training. 

“No matter what trail you go or where you’re running, you’re gonna see so many people of all ages, all sorts of different goals, things they’re trying to chase after,” Cranny says. “Especially this time of year, everyone just always seems so happy to be outside. You have the sun and the mountains and a great community of people wherever you go.”

Though Godby retired from elite sport last year, she still loves biking, hiking and exploring outdoors. She loves the stellar views and plethora of connectors from Marshall Mesa. As far as hiking, she loves the Flatirons Vista trail as well as hikes at Chautauqua Park with her family. 

For Jorgensen, a triathlete, the Louisville Rec Center and Boulder’s Scott Carpenter Pool are go-to spots for a swim, and Dirty Bismark on a mountain bike is her favorite ride. 

Gwen Jorgensen won a gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Credit: Kenny Withrow

“I love how there are so many races in Boulder,” she says. “In the summer I do a lot of the bike crits and the stroke-and-stride events.” 

Jorgensen and Riley both love Davidson Mesa and Bobolink for a run. 

Riley also loves the dirt trails of Cottonwood Trail or taking Marshall Mesa to Community Ditch. 

“That doesn’t sound very appealing, but you’re kind of exposed and you’re running directly towards the Flatirons,” he says. “The mountains sort of loom over you, and you’re in this big exposed space. You just get this really nice feeling of scale. It’s not a technical trail. You can kind of cruise along. It’s really really nice and then you finish Community Ditch, and you can go up into Eldorado Canyon.”  

He likes Tom Watson Park on Sundays, “like every other elite athlete in Boulder” — especially the LoBo Trail. 

“You get this really nice view over the valley, and you can see two or three layers of Rocky Mountains back,” he says. “When there’s snow on the peaks but there’s not down here, it’s just gorgeous. It’s a nice mix of hilly and flat trail running.”

Eat like an Olympian

Fuel is important for elite athletes, and their favorite BoCo grub spots run the gamut from burgers to brunch. 

“King Dumpling in Louisville is a new restaurant I love,” says Jorgensen. “They have hand-pulled noodles and a chef hand-rolling each dumpling. I love the veggie dumplings and the Dan Dan Noodles.”

Jorgensen also favors the rice bowl and weekend specials from Skratch Labs Cafe. “I wish I lived closer to Skratch because I would go there weekly,” she says. 

Dry Storage and Louisville’s Moxie Bread Co. are her go-tos for bread. If she dines in at Moxie, she orders the toast: “It’s a great deal with two huge slices of bread with butter and jam for only $2.50.”

Godby loves Moxie, too. 

Bakery rides as a cyclist are my favorite thing,” she says. “I love how they have several different locations, so you can do a ride, you can do a hike.”

“Illegal Pete’s is also a classic,” adds the cyclist who grew up grabbing burritos for a quick pre- or post-ride meal. 

Brunch is Cranny’s favorite meal of the day, especially after a run. She wants something sweet and something savory like eggs and french toast, either home-cooked or at a Boulder restaurant like The Buff or Snooze.

Elise Cranny loves going to Pearl Street to get away from training in the summer. Credit: Matt Parker

Riley also opts for brunch after a long run. 

“I want to do it big: a lot of potatoes, eggs, peppers, onions, some sort of nice breakfast meat, a bagel or biscuit,” he says. 

Riley likes to hit Dot’s Diner and get the Farmer’s Eggs scrambled with ham, onions, green peppers and cheddar. Another favorite is the Olé Skillet at The Buff, chock full of chorizo, potatoes, jalapenos and cheese and topped with green chili or queso. 

For a date night, Riley and his wife bike to Efrain’s. Riley orders a chimichanga with red sauce while his wife prefers the spicier green chili. They also like to walk up the bike path to the Dark Horse. 

“Any bar that has Buck Hunter in it is one I will usually seek out,” he says. “I like to go up to the Dark Horse if [I’m] kind of in an easy part of the training segment; go have a couple beers, get a burger, play some Buck Hunter.” 

Cranny is currently living in Nederland, and her top pick for a bite in town is Crosscut Pizza. 

She also loves coming into Boulder to go out to dinner at Avanti, Pasta Jay’s, Hapa Sushi or bartaco. 

“I love going to Pearl Street, especially in the spring and summertime,” she says. “It’s always nice to feel like you’re getting away from running. It’s so nice to be outside.” 

Play like an Olympian

Riley and his wife met while playing pub trivia at Twisted Pine, where they serve up one of his favorite beers in town: The Patio Pounder session IPA. Lately, they’ve been playing trivia at Wild Provisions, where his go-to order is the ’Bout Damn Time IPA. 

Jake Riley runs in the 2023 Berlin Marathon.
Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

“And a good Avery will always go down smooth, and you can find that everywhere,” he says.  

Like so many other Boulderites, Riley says he loves a good float down Boulder Creek. 

“Not the other creeks, because they have cow poop in them,” he says. 

For family fun, Jorgensen, a mother of two, heads to Valmont Park. 

My youngest loves to look at and pet the dogs while my oldest loves to shred,” she says. 

Her family also frequents Boulder County parks, rec centers and pools as well as the reservoir. You’ll also find them at summer events like Music in the Park and the Boulder Farmers Market. 

Godby is a fan of the Boulder Creek Festival and walking classic Boulder spots like Pearl Street and the Boulder Creek path. Like Jorgensen, she also loves the farmers market.

“It’s super robust, and you can get healthy food. They also do a lot of great work promoting local food systems,” says Godby, who has a master’s in public health. “There’s so many farms in Boulder County so it’s just super cool to see that really take off.”

Recover like an Olympian 

When it comes to recuperating, one favorite rang out loud and clear among these Olympians: a natural ice bath. 

“If you want to feel like you’re doing something for your body but you’re mostly just hanging out in nature, I love taking an ice bath in Boulder Creek,” Riley says. 

Godby and Cranny agree. Cranny also likes stretching out in an outdoor pool or going for an evening walk on the trails and dirt roads near her place in Nederland. 

Riley and Jorgensen also give Boulder-based Roll Recovery a shoutout. 

“As a busy mom, I love having tools to help me recover in my home,” Jorgensen says. The Sisu sauna in her backyard is another favorite rest-and-relaxation tool. 

“We also have a hot tub, and our boys love when we set the temperature to 99 degrees,” she says. “We all have a great time laughing and splashing under the stars.”

Another go-to for Jorgensen is the Boulder-based Skratch Labs vegan chocolate recovery drink. 

Relax like an Olympian 

When these elite athletes need to unwind, many of them turn — surprise — to Boulder’s outdoor spaces.

“We have so many paths, like you don’t have to be on infrastructure that you share with cars,” Godby says. “Taking the dogs for a walk and just kind of just sitting out enjoying the view in the mountains in the evening with a sunset — that’s also a favorite.”

Marshall Mesa, Flagstaff Road and Louisville’s Davidson Mesa are among her favorite spots to watch the sun go down. 

Maddie Godby races in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Credit: Casey Gibson

Jorgensen heads to a park with her two boys or takes them for a treat from Sweet Cow when it’s time for a break from training. 

Riley and his wife like to bike to a park, have a picnic and play board games in the summer — usually Ticket to Ride or cribbage, he says. 

They frequent Scott Carpenter Park and Harlow Platts near Fairview High School. 

“We’ve had some awesome sunset picnics right by the lake there,” Riley says. 

For Cranny, grabbing an afternoon smoothie at Wonder or reading at a coffee shop like Creature Comforts, Niwot’s Old Oak, Ampersand or Humankind are great ways to relax. 

“I like small things like that: going out to dinner or going to a coffee shop where you can kind of feel like a normal person, if that makes sense,” she says. “Like, you don’t have to think about running: You’re doing something that’s chill, and you’re relaxing.” 

Whether you’re an elite athlete, an average joe or somewhere in between, Boulder County is full of mouthwatering bites and breathtaking views to discover. 

Godby’s advice for homegrown Boulderites and newcomers alike? 

“Explore as much as possible outside of a car,” she says. “When I started riding, just being able to explore all these corners I never would have gone to in a car was really, really fun. You can really see Boulder authentically that way.”


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