Race Recap: The Boilermaker

19 Jul

The Boilermaker 15K Road Race was established in 1978 as a way for the family-owned Utica Boilers company to give back to the community. The race attracted the famous Bill Rodgers in 1983, setting the stage for future Olympians, world record holders, and international elite runners to participate. The city of Utica takes a lot of pride in hosting the event.  There’s a big countdown clock outside of the event office and the finish line is a permanent fixture. And of course, all 14,000 15K entries sold out within a record 3 days this year. In a nutshell, it’s a big race.


Countdown clock

Besides the main 15K, they offer other events such as a 5K, invitational mile, kids’ run, 3 mile walk, and youth Olympics. Runners from all over the country and the world travel to Utica to take part.

Permanent finish line

Permanent finish line

This was my first time participating in the Boilermaker, so I tried to find out as much about it as possible in preparation. The only thing I could not get information about was the color coding system for the bibs. I’m fairly certain it is Top Secret. This is my only criticism of the event.

There were multiple bib colors – White/Light Pink, Fuschia, Teal, Green, Yellow, and Orange (Peach?). I may be forgetting one, but what I do know is that the first colors were seeded by time (and possibly reserved for previous runners) and Peach was basically equivalent to “everyone else.” There wasn’t even a big sign telling us Peachies where to stand, so we just gathered in the back in a big blob. On the plus side, there was a guy shouting at us obnoxiously every few minutes to move back and make room for the “better runners”. Rude…

On the real plus side, I got to hang out with my friends from the time we rode the free shuttle to the start area until the gun went off! It was the first Boilermaker AND first 15K for all of us. We all got PR’s! 😉


Nick, Vicki, Sarah, Me

And I represented #RunChat with a Runbassador tattoo, of course!



Did I mention there were a lot of runners?


Runners ahead

I clocked over 3 minutes just getting up to the starting line. You can see it by that big white crane with the American flag there.


Runners behind

It was a struggle to get through the crowd of people and find my pace. Thanks to the humidity (and perhaps the 3 AM wake up call), I felt heavy and tired for the majority of the race. I was kind of hating it for a few stretches, especially miles 3-4.5 and then again around 8-8.5ish. I never found a consistent pace. I mean, just look at my pace stats and graph!

Countdown clock

pace graph

Official time: 1:17:52

Even though I personally didn’t feel like I did the best I could have done, I really enjoyed this race. The course was interesting and scenic, there were cheering spectators along the entire route, bands and DJ’s were playing music in various spots, there were TWENTY water stops, and the finish line production was smooth. The atmosphere was all about support and having fun and I loved that!

I also heard my name announced as I crossed the finish line, which is one of the coolest feelings ever at such a big race. I finally listened to my mom and waved and smiled at my mini fan club on the sidelines instead of getting all “Focus on the Finish” Face. I’m really glad I did, because making that contact with my family made the whole race for me.


Hi, Mom!

As soon as we crossed the finish line, it was time to PARTY! There was a huge post-race shindig with live music, food, and beer from the Saranac Brewery. Part of the swag for runners is a Boilermaker pint glass (it’s obviously about the beer). Big vendors like Chobani, Pepsi, Sqwincher, and Price Chopper were also there handing out goodies. I don’t drink beer, so I partied with some electrolytes and bananas.


F.X. Matt Brewing Company (Saranac) and PARTY!

To go with the pint glass, finishers also got a cool pin!

I finished!

As part of the event, several Genesee War Birds did a flyover. My picture doesn’t capture the awesomeness!


Genesee War Birds

In response to the Boston Marathon bombings, event security was pretty tight. Certain areas were closed off, backpacks were checked thoroughly, etc. Runners were given clear plastic bags for bag check, but I didn’t end up using this feature. From what I saw, it worked out well.


The camera bag is safe!

I really have to take a moment to thank my husband, Mark, for being willing to get up at 3 AM on a Sunday to drive to a race and again supporting me every step of the way. He’s pretty awesome.

My number 1 fan

The Boilermaker was a great day and I’m really looking forward to running it again! See you next year?

If you’re interested in checking out more race coverage, click here.


2 Responses to “Race Recap: The Boilermaker”

  1. Joanna July 19, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    I ran the Boilermaker too! It was especially hot and muggy out for this year’s race, so that’s an incredible time! 🙂 Even though it is all about fun and good times, they definitely don’t joke around with the course. The hills make it pretty challenging. Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Nikki July 19, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

      Awesome! I hope you had fun! It certainly was not comfortable weather! I didn’t mind the hills, actually, though I know it was not an easy course. I think ever since the hilliest half marathon ever that I did in May has made me completely un-intimidated by any hill I’ve seen since…LOL

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