Race Report Contributors: Harold, Judy, Yvonne, Sue, Mike, Mick
Event Name / Date / Location : Boilermaker Road Race / July 10, 2022 / Utica, NY
Synopsis: Back in person, and billed as Worlds Best 15K Road Race, did not disappoint. RunK2J Club Road-Trip #1 in 2022 and we had a small and keen group out for the event, running both the 15K classic, and the 5K event. Fun roadtrip to USA! RunK2J Fall Road-Trip will likely be Fat Ass Trail-Run in Batawa (Nov 20), so consider joining the fun!
My Race Experience: (Harold): Judy has done this event a few times, and my first time down to run as well. With folks heading down with slightly different agendas and timelines, various cars headed down Friday, though we all met up at the Boilermaker Bib Pickup in Utica at 2:00pm. Here we got our bibs, checked out the Expo, and visited the Boilermaker Store. I scored a 2019 Boilermaker ladies soft pink cotton-T for Judy, discounted to $2.50, started a mini bargain frenzy with the crew.
Afterwards, some folks did a course preview, went shopping, or visited nearby friends. Judy and I did a partial preview of the ‘hilly section’: missing a turn near the top, we found a ski-lift, which helped me appreciate how hilly this segment was. Team game plan was to meetup later at our group motel in nearby Ilion for dinner. We were all surprised and impressed at the size of the now closed Remington Arms Plant, now a museum.
With everyone checked in, and a nice day, we opted for a picnic dinner to be C19 friendly, and ordered a wide variety of items from Sorrentos, a highly rated local Italian restaurant. It definitely lived up to it’s reputation, and great place to hang out so we could plan & prepare for our run. Made arrangements with the owners to keep one room available for late checkout after tomorrows run so we could all shower, much appreciated! Took quick tour of historic Ilion as well!
Boilermaker is a big deal in Utica: probably 7-8 aid stations, and twenty places where there is music along the way. Lots of the people cheering on the roadway, and some yearly characters (stilt man).
Race day was bright and early for this point-to-point course, and we had a 7:00am start which is great to deal with the heat. With 8000 runners this year (alot smaller than last in-person event) it was still fairly busy getting cars parked, checking bag, and making our way to start line. Mike was the keener, starting an hour ahead of us for the 5K. That also meant he could finish, and take photos – awesome!
Bathroom frenzy, and into the corrals, with masks. USA national Anthem, and then we’re off! Judy provided all the Boilermaker newbies advice that I kept in mind. First 5K is a net uphill, including most of the ascent of the ski-hill thing we saw yesterday. For that segment, things went well, and managed that in a bit under 30 minutes. The Middle 5K starts with a big descent from that hill, and has a few ups and downs along the way. You also pass the Utica zoo, and the keepers are always cheering on the course with some zoo animals: turtles and snakes this year! Lots of crowd support, bands, and aid stations. Managed that segment in under 30 minutes as well. The final 5K takes you home: still a small hill or two, but net downwards for the final 2-3K to the finish area. Seemed like a band was playing every 500-750m, and water stop every 1-2kms at that point. Super well supported, and I ran a bit with a dude dressed up in a full Thor costume, complete with Hammer. He was hi-fiving all the kids along the way. I did tap 3 large pokeballs on the course to ‘power-up’, held by three elementary age school kids! Getting to the finish line, I could see I was able to finish in under 90 minutes (whoo-hoo), and I was pleased with my finish on this warmish day.
Got the medal, bottle of water, and started longish walk through the closed streets to the finishers area where we had arranged to meet. With everyone else anticipated to be there well before me, I strolled over, and started to find folks. Everyone was fairly excited about their run, munching on some snacks, and partaking in the trademark glass of icy cold beer being served from the beer-trucks at Saranac Brewing Company.
High fives all around as we swapped experiences, and folks headed into the legendary food pickup area: tons of support from sponsors and people we walking out with as much as they could carry – literally! Cooling down a bit more in the shade, we checked some results, and looks like Judy did quite well, winning her age group. Great way to tap out of the 55-59 age group in two weeks! Tossing on the masks again, we jumped onto one of the many yellow school busses, and got the shuttle back to the starting area, where we parked our car.
After that, it was a simple drive back to the hotel we stayed at, and the 5 runners took turns taking a shower to make things much more pleasant. It’s great being clean for the ride home. While checking everyone’s time with the Wi-Fi, also realized Mike won his 5K age group as well: whoo-hoo! We have another champ among us.
Packing up, we all headed back to Ottawa at our own separate pace. I have to admit, Judy and I did stop and pause at a few ‘antique’ spots along the way to chill out, stretch our legs, and enjoy being back in this part of NY again! Sadly, we found out ‘Slims Diner’ burned down in the Great Black Fire, Jan 8/9 2020. The boarder crossing was simple, and we paused at the nearby Iroquois locks to watch another Great Lakes Freighter navigate the St. Lawrence before heading back to Ottawa.
Great people to head out with, great event, and a great weekend!
Would you do this event again? Why? Absolutely. This 15K is a Gold Standard race in the USA, and attracts impressive talent. Fun for age groupers too, and the whole town is there to cheer you on! Great town support on the course, lots of bands, aid stations. Anticipate this will become RunK2J Roadtrip again in 2023!
Would you recommend this event? Why? Absolutely yes! This is a race the whole town is behind, as well as the neighboring communities. Lots of regular characters on the course (‘Stilt Man’), and the finish at Saranac Brewing company is legendary. Great team Road-trip, and only 4ish hours from Ottawa.
Closing thoughts. Any hints for others planning to do this race? Where to stay? Things to bring? What to wear? In July, can be warm, even in morning. We all wore singlets, and had a nice sunny day to run. By 10am finish, was getting warm. You have an option to pack a small bag of cloths you can put into the baggage truck at the start – sandals were great idea, and pack an extra bag to bring home all your snacks is mandatory! When you park your car at the start area, there are lots of options: ensure you take a photo or place pin on a map to find your car!
Boilermaker Info Stats
Overall Venue Rating: 5 Fantastic. Point to point course, ending in Utica, at the central Saranac Brewery Company for a beverage. Lots of fun, and bands playing!
Rate the course: 4 – Nice course, especially if you like hills! Preview would be useful for first time running if you are serious, but enjoy the spectacle!
Rate the aid stations: 5 – Awesome. There are 7-8 stations on this 15K course. Water at all of them, and most of the final 10K had ice as well. There was also Gatorade at some of them.
How was the weather? Warmish. At 7:00am, was around 17-18C, and I wore a T-shirt to the start that I discarded. It probably got to 23 or 24C by the time we finished, and it was clear and sunny for the whole day.
RunK2J Team Boilermaker Race Results:
- Judy: 1.10:30 (1st place AG W55-59, with birthday in 2 weeks!)
- Yvonne: 1.10:22 (7th place AG W50-55)
- Susan: 1.16:13 (top 10% AG W50-55)
- Mic: 1.18:16 (at 30% of AG runners)
- Harold: 1.27:58 (at 46% of AG runners!)
- Mike: 24:44 (1st place AG M55-59)