What A Race! Boilermaker 2010, Part 2

OK, the race has now officially started; I have watched everyone clear the Start line, gently reminding those in the back that we aren’t conducting a walk as they mosey by me through the timing system.
What happens now? I have to climb aboard a police ‘paddy wagon’ to get escorted to the Finish Line.
Now as wild as my former youth may have been have never had the ‘privilege’ of riding in the law enforcement’s taxi cab.
The vehicles’ rear area is divided up into compartments able to hold three or four people, I suppose they are separated in case they’ve arrested people fighting and don’t want to have the altercation ‘going mobile’. There are no windows so we are plunged into darkness except for a bit of light coming through the front windshield.
We speed down the arterial, and weave through the back streets of West Utica, the lumbering beast stops with a jolt; we have arrived.
Slowly the doors being disengaged and are blinded by the pure July sunshine. People are staring at the release of ‘the Boilermaker 6’.
After a short half block walk we reach the finish line. The 5k run is still in progress (starting a half an hour prior to the 15k) although at over 40 minutes since its start we are seeing the tail end.
The crowds that line this area are stacked 4 to 5 deep pressing against the barrier system.
I am struck by the fact that at this point I am to a large extent a spectator like them. The chute crew knows what to do, the timers are monitoring their systems and God knows I could offer little help in the medical tent.
So I watch…
I watch the crowd cheering their support for the few people they know and the many they don’t.
I watch the wheelchair athletes come blasting through the finish; their fellow racers waiting to give them a ‘high five’.
I watch the person, obviously a first time Boilermaker participant, crossing the finish line. They have tears in their eyes, arms outstretched, with the pride of one who broke the winners tape. Their months of training have paid off. No one else has done this for them.
On to the stage!
If there was one scene I wish everyone could experience is walking out and seeing the mass of humanity that the back of the brewery has become! Over 45,000 runners, family members, volunteers, and spectators are a sea of smiles.
Awards are presented, the singing of the National Anthem, and, unfortunately, no flyover (believe me; I really tried).
Finally I get a chance to walk through the crowd. Ask where they are from, how was the course, what could be better, will you come back?
In general, the day is a blur. Hundreds of conversations; many forgotten, a few I will remember forever.
The 33rd running is over; on to the 34th!

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