Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Utica Boilermaker 2008

Today, my friends and I participated in the largest, most competitive 15K in the country, the Boilermaker. It's just about the only thing Utica, NY is actually known for and people come from around the world, including 42 states, to participate. The Boilermaker tagline is "where you come to party and a race breaks out". Unless you are an elite runner who is here to win some of the thousands of dollars in prize money, your goal is to get to the finish so you can have free beer!! Why else would 10,000 people run 9.3 miles in the dead of summer?? The race literally corrals all runners into the parking lot of the FX Matt Saranac Brewery, where they donate over 150 kegs for the runners and their family and friends. Yep, run 9.3 miles and then drink all the free beer your little heart desires. How fantastic is that! :) OK, enough about the beer, really, this whole event is an experience that any runner should consider doing at least once (although once you do it, you will want to go back every year!!). Last year, Sue & I went out to Utica for our first Boilermaker and had such an amazing time, that we convinced nearly 10 people to join us this year! Unfortunately, Sue couldn't make it at the last minute (she is already on board for next year), but the rest of us took in the whole experience.

It was myself, Derek, Colleen, Danielle, Anthony, Diane, Patti, Dawn, & Angela who decided to run the '08 Boilermaker. The weekend started at the race expo where we picked up our packets and purchased Boilermaker gear as well as runners toys (I got the massage stick & Diane & Patti got these fancy running belts that expand and hold an amazing amount of stuff!). After packet pick up and chip check, we headed back to our hotel (Ramada Inn at the "airport"). Unfortunately, there is NOTHING around that hotel and the airport isn't really a working airport, in fact, I'm pretty sure they only have a full house on Boilermaker weekend! Anyway, with the size of our group and the lack of dining options, we chose to stay at the hotel for dinner....not a great idea. I'll take the heat for this one, I might have encouraged the idea! :) Watery red sauce over mediocre pasta was not necessarily what I had in least the company made up for it! Once we finished the best dinner EVER...hehehe, did you hear the sarcasm...we headed out to the pool (surrounded by a chain link fence) to take an evening dip after the 90 degree day. Actually, only Derek & I took a dunk, everyone else watched us and chatted about the desolation around the hotel. We then headed in to climb into our beds and get a good nights sleep before our 6am meeting time (5am alarm!). Oh yeah, one last Ramada Inn story....the girl at the front desk was nuts!!! It's a long story and will lose alot in translation, so next time you see me, ask me about my awesome experience at check-in and how I think this girls head might pop off if she ever hears my name or Derek's name again! :) Oh yeah, also, when I checked out in the morning (5:15am) the young man at the front desk was fast, fast asleep and it took a few tries for me to wake him. Awesome!

Anyway, onto race morning and the pouring rain that we woke up too. Sweet, not exactly what I had in mind for running 9.3 miles, but I'm here, so I'll deal with it. Angela, Dawn, & I got garbage bags from the front desk and wore them to stay dry and warm before we started. We all met at 6am in the lobby and off we went to run! We got to the start line after parking under some billboard somewhere in Utica, and riding a shuttle bus across town to the start. We had about an hour to burn before the gun went off and it was raining on and off. The announcer was saying that in 30 years, it has never rained during the actual running of the Boilermaker. Once they got all 10,000 of us lined up in our starting corrals, they had us do a rain chant.....had a priest bless the event and ask for the rain to stop, and then, 15 min before the starting cannon, the skies began to clear. It was amazing!! It turned out to be slightly overcast and a little sunny at times, but pretty perfect running weather for July! Off we went, actually, 8 min went by before we even made it to the start line. The race was awesome, I loved all the band, the crowds, the llama & baby goat (thank you to the zoo!), and especially the 2 guys running near me in baby costumes. They were awesome! It was an amazing experience once again this year and I can't wait to go back again next year. In fact, some of our group even said it was the best race they've ever run! We are definitely going to make this one a tradition! Like I said earlier, where else can you run 9.3 mi and then party w/25,000 people, dance to Nik & the Nice Guys, experience an F-16 flyover, & see fireworks, all before noon!!

I definitely left alot out, but they are my memories that I will keep for years to come and way too much to type into this post (which is already a book!). This is the best race I have ever and probably will ever run, and I plan to keep doing it until my little legs won't let me do it anymore!

**Thank you to Alex for being the best support all weekend and taking amazing pictures...and waiting around for us to all finish the race! Thank you thank you!!

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