Bobby Stuckey runs Boulder’s Frasca—and marathons, too.
“Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” So goes the adage known as Parkinson’s Law. For Bobby Stuckey—restaurateur, master sommelier, and onetime wine director at The French Laundry—the opposite seems to be true: Time expands, as necessary, to accommodate the Boulder resident’s staggering, superhuman workload. In addition to spending six nights a week on the floor of his James Beard Award-winning restaurant, Frasca Food and Wine, the 48-year-old manages a wine label, travels the world for speaking engagements, consults for the American Airlines wine program, and supervises operations at two additional establishments, Tavernetta and Pizzeria Locale, both of which he co-owns.
Oh, and he runs sub-three-hour marathons, too.
“It’s a building block for my other pursuits,” Stuckey says of his lifelong passion for running. “I don’t think I could do all those other things if I didn’t have running. I need that release to be creative, to be energized, to feel healthy.”
Stuckey, who grew up in Phoenix, started running as a boy, during the first American jogging boom of the 1970s. He completed his first 10K at seven years old. “It was called the Big Sisters Charitable Run,” he recalls. “My parents signed me up. I remember getting my T-shirt. I was one of the only kids who ran, and they didn’t have kids’ shirts. Mine was like a dress on me. I wore it until it literally fell apart.”
Over four decades, Stuckey’s love for running grew alongside his love for food and wine. Now, by his own account, the two are almost inextricably linked, mentioned by many in the same breath. In 2008, Stuckey received a nomination from the James Beard Foundation in the category of Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional. The same year, in New York City, he posted a marathon time—his personal best—of 2 hours, 45 minutes (mile pace, 6:17), nearly an hour faster than the Boston Marathon’s qualifying benchmark. In all, he has completed more than 20 marathons: Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Montreal, Quebec, Portland, the all-important Boston. “And there are still a lot out there,” he says. “I’m doing Berlin this year with my brother.”
Training for a marathon is one of the most time-intensive athletic endeavors a person can undertake, but somehow, among all his other obligations, Stuckey manages to squeeze in runs around the state. His favorite close-to-home route in Boulder, he says, is Poor Man Loop, a hilly, 11.5-mile trail accessible year-round. Up in Aspen, he prefers a long run into the mountains called Warren Lakes.
“Twenty years ago, chefs and sommeliers and restaurant managers didn’t really think about taking care of themselves,” Stuckey says. “They partied hard, they worked hard, they were stressed, they were overweight. Even back then, I didn’t get into that stuff. I had the running foundation, first, to build everything else on. Now it’s starting to become more trendy in the restaurant business to get that work-life balance—trendy because it’s necessary.”
What could possibly be left to accomplish for this runner-entrepreneur-sommelier with all those marathon medals to his name, a shelf of national culinary awards, and the kind of industry clout many young hopefuls would kill for? Listening to him muse on the subject, one almost hears a faint ripping sound: his schedule splitting at the seams.
“You know,” he says thoughtfully, “I’ve never done an ultra.”