Style or speed? That’s the crucial question for participants in the Emma Crawford Coffin Races and Festival in Manitou Springs
Each team in the 24th annual event weighs the two components differently. Some are looking to win gold, and others embrace the opportunity to put their creativity on display for the more than 10,000 attendees.
Affordable Medical Supply went with speed after losing their race in 2017.
“We completely redid our coffin this year, making it out of aluminum instead of pallet wood,” said the team’s “Emma,” Wilma Crooks. “We’re hoping speed will work in our favor.”
In addition to the change in material of their rendition on a gurney, the local medical supply store changed the size of their wheels.
The work paid off, and the team won its individual race.
The gurney’s shape resembled a coffin, though, to pay homage to the woman who inspired the quirky event: Emma Crawford, who contracted tuberculosis and moved to Manitou in 1889 to take the cure of the natural mineral waters, like many folks at that time. She succumbed to her illness and died in 1891.
She was buried on top of Red Mountain, per her dying wishes. But in 1929, bad winters and spring rains unearthed her coffin, which raced down the mountain. Her spirit is said to still haunt Red Mountain today.
The Ghouly Gals took inspiration from a Halloween classic, “Beetlejuice.”
The team of science teachers from El Paso County schools decided, this year, style outweighed speed. Projecting from the front and back of their white coffin was the movie’s black and white striped sandworm.
Their composition, though, didn’t meet the race’s technical specifications, so the team’s “Emma” held the worm’s tail in her lap while they ran.
“Ours isn’t built to win this year,” said Greg Triebel, who built the Ghouly Gals’s coffin. “It was built for style and for the fun of the event.”
Triebel added that, in other years his team of science teachers has raced, they focused more on speed.
“We’ve done the race for several years and just wanted to focus on making something creative,.”
Twitter: @lizmforster Phone: 636-0193