For 15 years and counting, the Denver community has celebrated the onset of spring with the annual Colfax Marathon, a nationally recognized race and series of running and networking events happening May 13 – 15. It’s a race that Lisa Atencio, director of finance and administration for CU Denver’s Provost’s Office, has tackled before. This year is extra special for Atencio as she gears up for her 98th half marathon.
An avid runner since 2010, she was inspired early in her running career by a young marathoner and her parents, who couldn’t have been prouder to see their daughter cross the finish line.
“It was an inspiring moment that made me go, ‘I want to do that,’” shared Atencio. “Running is a release for me, and it’s about staying healthy,” she added.
In addition to an active lifestyle, the Colfax Marathon promotes community, philanthropy, and fun, partnering with more than 200 nonprofits that have collectively raised more than $2.5 million over the past five years. Not only is Colfax the Mile High City’s largest marathon, its Charity Partners Program is the second largest in the U.S., coming in just behind the New York City Marathon. These are just a few of the reasons CU Denver is proud to sponsor the Colfax Marathon for the very first time.
“We talk about being a ‘best place to work,’ and by sponsoring the race, we’re showing our commitment to our city and to our faculty, staff, and students’ wellbeing,” said Atencio. The sponsorship also helps encourage CU Denver’s diverse student body to engage with the community it calls home.
Before making the city of Denver her home, Atencio had no intention of working in higher education. But after accepting a temporary contract position, she fell in love with life on campus and her initial 6-month assignment grew into a 30-plus year career. During the last three decades, Atencio has worked in various roles and with several different departments across the university, and she’s enjoyed watching it grow from a blossoming center for learning into a nationally recognized urban research institution.
“When I think about where we were when I first started and where we are now, there’s been so much change,” noted Atencio. “It’s been a pleasure to watch and participate in, and to see the Denver community really embrace us.”
Supporters, spectators, students, and staff are encouraged to stop by the Health & Fitness Expo at Empower Field at Mile High Stadium in the two-day period preceding the race to learn more about the university’s commitment to strategic improvement, equitable access to education, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.