As an honorary Utican, I know just how important the Boilermaker 15K road race is to that area and surrounding region. (I married a Utica girl.) It’s basically the equivalent of Christmas Day, Mardi Gras and the New York City Marathon rolled up into one. And for the first time in its 42-year history, the race has been postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Boilermaker, it’s been run throughout the streets of Utica since 1978, and has been a popular race for not only high school and college runners in the Capital Region and throughout the Northeast, but also for national runners, wheelchair athletes and internationally renowned athletes. The winners in the various categories of the race have shared up to $100,000 in prize money in past years.) And if you’re thinking, “Oh, 15Ks are sooo easy,” think again: I’ve run it a number of times and have been chewed up and spit out, even with months of training under my belt. It’s hilly as hell, and in the summer swelter, could be near impossible, even for the best-trained runners. (I’ve seen grown men literally weeping, limping and soiling themselves on the course.) The race’s finish line is at the legendary FX Matt Brewery, which produces Saranac beer, and race-finishers are handed cups of beer to enjoy.
This year’s 15K is being presented by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield and has been rescheduled for September 13, the second Sunday in September (the race normally runs the second weekend in July). “This very difficult decision was made in concert with our medical support team and with the safety of our community at heart,” the nonprofit organization that runs the event said in a prepared statement.
Race day also includes a popular 5K, which kicks off before the big race; I’ve also run that one—solo and with my mom!—and it’s equally challenging.
Registration for both races has been temporarily postponed but will reopen on May 1st at 12pm. The 15K costs $60 to run and the 5K, $50.