Forgive the mixed sports analogy that I’m notorious for but we are reaching the homestretch for race preparation.
I gave some thought to what we need pass along to our visitors. While we’ve tried to get the word out I guess we can’t over communicate. Here’s a focus on two changes for 2012 that represent major departures from the past.
The Expo move:
I’ve been shocked on more than one occasion speaking to someone and they are unaware that this year’s Expo will be taking place at Mohawk Valley Community College. In the next couple of weeks we will be featuring an ‘all things Expo’ button on the website that will layout both graphically and in words spell out what’s going on.
While I’m very excited with the ability of our guests having more parking options and somewhat ‘weather-proofing’ the event I fear the guard at the Masonic Care Community (our former Expo venue) will hate us by the end of the weekend telling people where to go (hopefully nicely).
The transfer policy:
Seems like there are still many questions about how it works or that it even exists. The ability to legally transfer a number from a runner who can’t participate to one who wants to went live at the end of April. While the Boilermaker does not want to become the eharmony of running, our Facebook is a good place to find a person who may want to dump/ receive a racing bib. June 22nd marks the end of the ability to transfer so find that special someone!
The process is pretty simple go to boilermaker.com and click on the icon that says Boilermaker Transfer Policy.
As an outside observer it looks like a number of people who got shutout of the 15k and ended up signing up for the 5k are finding 15kers (my word) who are having second thoughts about the 9.3.
So I have a favor to ask, tell your friends about what’s going on. We are but one voice; you are many.
May 28th, 2012
Forgive the mixed sports analogy that I’m notorious for but we are reaching the homestretch for race preparation.
April 27th, 2012
This week Governor Cuomo instituted ‘Operation Hang Up’ signaling a week long increased focus by law enforcement against cell phone/ texting usage while driving. I think this is great because I’ve often felt the laws banning mobile device use was a ‘kinda’ law. A ‘kinda’ law (my words and definition) is one that’s on the books but is generally not followed by a large portion of the public. I can’t remember when I have driven when I haven’t encountered at least one person driving with a cell phone at their ear.
People really love their cell phones and texting. I convinced that over time we will develop ‘text neck syndrome’ as people bend their neck hypnotized by the glowing screen. I recently saw a video of a young lady who was texting and walking and didn’t notice orange cones around an open manhole cover; I think the 20 foot drop grabbed her attention!
Why, as an advocate of the running and walking public do I care? Well think about crossing a street, the light is red and the crosswalk signal says it’s safe to cross. When we step out into the street we are totally depending on trust that the two ton metal beasts that prowl the roads will stop for us. As we share the streets each of us has an obligation to pay attention because bad things have a tendency to happen really fast (I think it’s an unwritten law of physics).
There is hope, in 1985 New York State passed the mandatory seatbelt law, prior to that time voluntary usage hovered around 50%. Today (27 years later) compliance I believe is in excess of 90%. The challenge will be to instill upon young people who both are inexperienced drivers and are perhaps the mega-texters to put down ‘the magic box’ when the key turns the on the car.
So as much as you feel the need to send that LOL text to a friend as you are barreling down the road please don’t because I kinda don’t want to get hurt.
April 21st, 2012
This year’s Boston Marathon, which occurred on April 16th, was certainly an interesting one. The wild weather we have experienced blasted the eastern seaboard with temperatures 30 degrees above normal. The marathon, which starts at around 10 am was looking at 69 degree temps at start time. Race officials offered to the 27,000 registrants the opportunity to defer running this year’s and be guaranteed a spot in the 2013 race; over 4,500 took them up on the deal.
In spite of thinning the field, doubling the hydration stations, and repeatedly cautioning the runners to not try and achieve a pr (personal record) over 2,100 had to seek some form of medical attention. Add to this the unique nature of Boston; participants need to have a qualifying time from another marathon to even get a chance to register; you weren’t talking about people who had not experienced the rigors of running 26.2 miles.
While we have been extremely fortunate with cool start line temperatures over the past few years (58 last year) there are no guarantees with the weather other than it will change.
The hottest temperature we’ve had for a Boilermaker start was 1988 (8:30 am start time) when it was 79 degrees when the starting gun went off; and that was before you had the ‘privilege’ to run 9.3 miles where temps quickly rose to the mid 90’s. That was one of the few years I did not run the race (thank God) as I was on my honeymoon.
This leads me to the true intention of this blog. The race is now 78 days away as of this writing. If you feel you are not up to running 15k (or even 5k) this July why don’t you transfer the number to someone who can and will? Just visit the Boilermaker Facebook page and you will see the demand. On April 30th (you heard it here first) the transfer period goes live; it will be very easy to do.
The race this year strictly adhere to shutting down the clocks at 21/2 hours so if your plan is to walk the course you may find little waiting for you at the finish. Remember, this is a race; our walk event takes place the day before at MVCC.
So if your not ready you have the opportunity to bring joy to someone you may not even know and that my friend is perhaps the greatest gift of all.
March 28th, 2012
This blog will be a bit more technical dealing with the early sellout of this year’s Boilermaker; not a great deal of my normal goofiness.
Last week the 5k sold out so the ‘escape hatch’ I had with discouraged 15k runners slammed shut. Needless to say both the Race Director’s and my e-mails have been flooded with pleas of just let one more person in (or sometimes ten more).
In recognition that there is so much pent up demand for the race we will be instituting for the first time a transfer policy so runners can legally obtain a chance to run the race.
The Boilermaker is not getting into the business of being e-harmony; the responsibility of the person who wants to get in is to find someone who wants to get out. There will also be a $10 registration fee to be paid by the in-coming runner. That’s really fair when you consider prior to the race cap we would charge $50 for late entries, now you’re on the hook for $47 ($37 entry& $10 registration fee).
So where do you find that elusive ‘not running the Boilermaker this year’ person? My first suggestion is social media. This year was a first for us besides being the biggest field; it was also the first time where we effectively had nearly 100% sign up on-line. I’ve already seen a number of hopeful people looking for those signed up but not planning to run on the Boilermaker facebook page.
We are holding back on activating the transfer until May 1st, why you ask, a few reasons:
Often the events of life give us surprises, both happy and sad, that may change your mind about running in July. If you think about it with the earlier registration where thousands had signed up by the end of January as opposed to a few hundred just a couple of years ago it’s a certainty things will have happened that will keep you on the sidelines on July 8th.
Secondly it may take the person who wants to run time to find the person who signed up but wouldn’t run.
So Tim you say, why did you call this pay it forward? There are roughly 4,400 new runners for the 15k and 1,800 for the 5k (that’s incredibly high for a 4,000 person race). If for whatever reason you know in your heart you simply aren’t going to run the race then bring a bit of joy to a person you may not even know.
Is this an added burden on runners who want to get in; yes. Will we end up with people who wanted to run but don’t get in: probably. Is this a better alternative to simply saying no to everyone who wants to participate; absolutely.
Keep the faith!
March 10th, 2012
“And it’s too late baby, now it’s too late. Though we really did try to make it.”
Carol King 1971
If you are reading this and wanted to run the 2012 Boilermaker 15k but hadn’t registered yet I’m afraid you are out of luck.
A simple math lesson:
Last year we had a smaller field (13,000) and went roughly 100 days( May 14th )until we closed out.
This year the race opened registration on January 7th and in 65 days 14,000 runners filled the field.
Less days= more runners, sort of a funny formula!
If last year’s registration was at the speed of sound this year went at the speed of light.
In hindsight the attraction of running the 35th anniversary race combined with all the people that were shut out last year and vowed not to have it happen again provided a powerful formula for an early sell out. I was convinced the race would sell out earlier but thought it would occur at the end of March.
The 5k will quickly follow suit as disappointed ‘coulda-been’ 15kers register for the smaller race. Last year’s male and female 5k winners both had been shut out of the 15k. It’s funny dealing with the ‘hard core’ 15k runners. Suggest to them they could always run the 5k and I get ‘the look’.
Now comes the tough times, the times I dread, when I hear the phone ring.
“Hi Tim, it’s (fill in the blank). “ (I think I know what’s coming)
“Hi (fill in the blank), haven’t heard from you in awhile; what going on?”
“Well you wouldn’t believe it” (Now I really, really, know what’s coming! Danger Will Robinson! Danger!) I guess I was unaware of the race closing out so I was wondering…”
One of the worst parts of this job is having to say the simple word ‘no’. It’s cold comfort to tell it to someone you don’t know, downright unpleasant to drop it on someone you consider a friend.
The e-mails have already begun with the reasons that 14,000 people ‘got it’ but they didn’t: oh well.
I suppose it’s a great thing to have a product that people want. Still, I’m thinking about joining a witness protection program at least until the race starts!
February 26th, 2012
A few weeks ago we sent out an electronic survey of twenty questions to 9,400 former Boilermaker participants. Nearly 2,400 responded back or roughly 20%; simply amazing.
The questions ranged from things we’ve done in the past to possible enhancements to this year’s or perhaps future Boilermakers.
Who Are You?
From a gender perspective our recipients pretty much mirrored what we’ve seen from registration; 52% male, 48% female. Age-wise the 25-34 year olds were our largest respondents, they traditionally are part of our ‘core’ in race participation. You certainly are a smart bunch; 50% have a college degree and 38% have post-college education!
What Did You Say?
If runners had run other races besides the Boilermaker we ranked very high in entertainment, the Post Race Party, and the finish line. Fans and support along the course ranked the highest, as it should. This community takes supporting this event seriously with nearly wall to wall spectators along our 9.3 mile course.
The start line and the Expo did not rank as well. The start line I get; it’s a constrained space and if you end up with slower runners in the wrong corrals it causes frustration.
The Expo was a bit of a surprise. I’m hoping that the move to MVCC with its ample parking to ease concerns.
This year is an induction year for the National Distance Running Hall of Fame. Traditionally we have the induction Saturday afternoon of Boilermaker Weekend. We asked if you had advanced notification would you come; 75% said you wouldn’t. This was a bit of a kick in the stomach!
We’re thinking about offering a full day of speakers/ presentations at the MVCC Theater on Boilermaker Saturday, 62% said you’d like to see an athlete from the running world with 34% favoring an inspirational speaker. I’m trying to figure out how someone wouldn’t come to see a great American athlete at the Induction but want to hear from an athlete from the running world; oh well.
The idea of receiving a ‘virtual goody bag’ rather than the traditional one was vetoed by three out of four of you. Most of the larger races are abandoning goody bags due to the availability of sample sizes of products and the sheer amount of cardboard and logistics to support the effort.
Show Me the Money!
Over 86% of you said you would be interested in buying merchandise at the Expo primarily focused towards the running community. If we looked specifically at Boilermaker merchandise the technical shirt was the clear favorite getting nearly 1,500 votes followed by tee shirts garnering over a 1,000 votes.
Our Boilermaker participants’ certainty like food. If we were to expand activities at the Expo the number one choice (with over 1,400 votes) was nutritional cooking. If you had a choice of food offered at the Expo healthy choices such as wraps, salads and sandwiches were followed closely by local favorites such as chicken riggies, greens and tomato pie.
The sandwich offering at the Post Race Party was a marginal winner with alternatives of fresh fruit and energy bars ranking highly among people who did not care for the sandwich. Nearly 60% said they would pay for food at the Post Race Party depending on the offering.
The Sponsors Smile
Over 86% of you are aware of the sponsors of the Boilermaker and 78% of you said you would patronize them! Believe me these are numbers I will share with our sponsors whom I assume wonder if supporting the Boilermaker makes good financial sense.
The last question was an open-ended one; ‘if you could tell the Boilermaker staff one thing what would that be?’ I haven’t tabulated the answers or figured out if there is a trend or common theme; when I do I’ll report back.
I’d like to give a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out the survey. There is nothing better than hearing ‘the voice of the customer’.
January 31st, 2012
Any race that is looking to grow its participation and not using social media is going down the wrong road.
The Boilermaker has been committed to social media for many years and has recently hired a person to support this powerful tool from a marketing perspective (see Adam, I told you I was going to give you a shout out!).
Why social media?
Social Media folks are your folks!
Look at your race demographics by age, if you haven’t been tracking that (as well as where your participants come from) we need to talk.
In general the ‘sweet spot’ you will see is most of your runners range in age from around 17 to their mid-30’s. Guess what, these are the heavy users of social media tools. In fact some of them don’t even remember that there was life prior to the internet (which became a usable medium around twenty years ago). I still remember when we had a black and white TV in my house that could get three channels (two of them well, three if the rooftop antenna was aligned correctly).
Races by their very nature are a kaleidoscope of great photographic moments; share what you have. With the omnipresent nature of smart phones with video capabilities you have the chance to empower hundreds of first person reporters to showcase your race.
It’s cheap- in fact it’s free!
Assuming the majority of your participants come from your community could you afford to pay the print, TV or radio to get the word out in a meaningful way?
If you are an event that is dependent on sponsor dollars to help defray costs (and who doesn’t) a strong digital presence promotes them 24/7 365 (actually 366 this year as 2012 is a leap year). They know that runners are a desired group boasting a high education/ net income and can be a loyal bunch.
A big caution
Remember I told you it was free, well that was a bit of an exaggeration. The cost is your time to keep up with the care and feeding of your website/ social media.
Keep it fresh; nothing is worse than a stale website (except perhaps stale cereal). One you decide to jump into the digital pool you need to jump in the deep end!
One thing you will quickly learn is that if you have a popular event you will quickly build a circle of Facebook ‘friends’. You will also as quickly learn if you have 100 friends they may have 150 opinions about any subject!
Don’t have thin skin, not everyone will love your event as much as you do. If complaints on Facebook are legitimate consider then a chance to ‘make right’ and show you are a good listener. Should the writer be unreasonable and appears to be complaining for the sake of complaining frequently others who have ‘befriended’ you will act as your ally.
Regarding blogs, the first one is very easy to write; the twentieth not so much so. I use a simple test when I begin composing a blog “does anyone besides me even care about this subject”? Many an article has ended right there.
How ironic that perhaps the oldest of human sports born from the flight vs. fight syndrome Let me run from something/ someone that wants to eat/kill me or let run after something/ someone I want to eat/ kill has transformed into a 21st century endeavor where we barcode our runners, instantly send text messages on course conditions and digitally send them their results.
I better tweet someone about all this!
January 11th, 2012
On Saturday, January 7th at 12:01 am the 2012 Boilermaker began, or rather, Boilermaker Registration began; boy did it take off fast!
In 2011 at the end of the first weekend of registration we had 856 people registered for the 15k, 85 for the 5k. By the end of Sunday (January 8th) over 2,100 registered for the 15k, 164 for the 5k. Looks like we’re going to sell out waaaay earlier than last year! Facebook has caught on fire with runners exuding Boilermaker spirit.
On Saturday morning we did a paper registration at our local Planet Fitness. My favorite part of these events is getting the chance to interact with our customer; the runner. From the veterans of multiple Boilermakers to the ‘I’m going to run this race once before I die first-timers’ I get a charge out of just listening to them. It helps remind me the importance of this race to our community and our responsibility to deliver a first class event.
The night ended with a fireworks display near our offices to celebrate the halfway point until the Boilermaker. I ran into volunteers that support the race who came downtown to catch the pyrotechnic display. Clear skies, temperatures in the 40’s (I’m sort of loving climate change) as the first rocket took to the sky.
Today the race became real!
January 2nd, 2012
New Years is one of those holidays that have never been high on my hit parade. I have a tendency to thing about those things undone rather than those things achieved.
Yet saying that I am frankly very happy this year is coming to a close. The last two months have been marked with a series of deaths of people that I know, including the passing of my Aunt Elaine the last survivor of my parents, their brothers and sisters and their spouses. My sister said to me; “Tim, we have now officially become the old people”. I have been recently been listening to John Meyer (definitely buy his Where the Light is CD) and his song ‘Stop this Train’ which reminds me of my own mortality. But my plan for this blog was not to ramble on about life or death but the idea of resolutions.
Often we decide that January 1st is the day to tackle the whole enchilada of traits we believe need to be changed. Let’s simply throw all those bad habits in a bag and toss them off the pier; hey how easy was that! Behavioral change is very, very difficult, just try putting on a shirt inserting the opposite arm you usually do; sort of feels weird.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of promises we make to ourselves the first day of the year come undone pretty quickly. It’s tough to ‘rewire’ our brains to do something that might bring us immediate gratification even though it is, long-term, a bad thing for us.
Saying all these things I am the firm believer that one of the strongest powers we posses is the power of hope. So if your if you want to lose that extra weight, eat healthier, or perhaps run your first Boilermaker.
Remember what I said earlier about the challenges of changing many bad habits in our lives? Decide to run the Boilermaker and do all the right things to prepare yourself for 9.3 miles and you’ve headed a ways down the road to become ‘the brand new you’!
So for me it’s a simple resolution (yeah, right Tim); the resolution to be a better listener. You know there’s something funny about being the person in charge; frequently your hearing somehow gets diminished. Perhaps it’s pride, ego, or maybe it’s just being simply hard-headed. It is coming to the understanding that not only do I not have all the answers; sometimes I don’t even know what the questions are!
Have a great New Year!
November 28th, 2011
In 2012 the Boilermaker will be thirty five years old. This will be a big race. In general big anniversaries add that extra luster that create demand to be a part of it.
I’m assuming that there will be many potential first time runners who are saying to themselves “if I don’t run the race now will I ever do it?” No doubt, this is one fun race to participate in. If you are serious about achieving this goal in 2012 I have some advice.
Straight up, I’m not a doctor, physical fitness trainer or nutritional guru; just a guy who has run this race a number of times
Are you ready to run 9.3 miles in the middle of July on a challenging course? Have a conversation with someone whose opinion you respect and really knows you. Perhaps it’s someone who has run the Boilermaker before. Should you decide to do it use this person/ people as part of your support group.
Get a physical
Would you drive from New York to L.A. without having your car checked out? Leaking oil, bad tires and soft brakes are scary, heart problems, muscle/ joint issues much worse. Some people simply are not made for running. Do not take that to mean that there is not an exercise program appropriate for nearly everyone.
Assuming you have no underlying medical problems running is a great way to lose weight, get your blood pressure down.
What will become clear to you early is that the discipline of running may have some great crossover benefits in breaking bad habits like smoking ( do you think!) and watching what (and how much) food you intake.
Sign up early!
There are two reasons to sign up early.
One, this race will sell out; what a shame if you are in shape but the door closed on you. Secondly, when you make a financial commitment you now have some skin in the game. It has now become more than just bold talk.
Where are we going?
Establish a running course by distance and topography (hilliness). Obviously a track is the easiest to start with; the measurement is precise and is flat. Unfortunately, running a track (in my opinion) is very boring. The other problem is tracks usually are not plowed during the Winter.
If you are a running newbie you may find your first runs to be less than pleasant; let’s be honest they will probably be terrible!
Focus on how long you were running/ walking (and it’s OK to run, walk, and run) not necessarily the distance. That will come over time.
One of the real challenges in committing to this race in January is the sad reality that your first few months of training will be when we are in the grips of Winter. If you are cold averse (I hate running in the cold) remember that a treadmill is a great compromise. However, in saying that there is no better way to train for a road race than running. Sort of sounds like common sense!
Find a friend
One of the horrible truths of life is it’s easy for us to quit on ourselves. “Oh, the weather is bad; too hot, too cold, raining, snowing, oh, it’s too early, it’s too dark” on and on.
When you have a running partner the old ‘guilt gremlin’ reminds us that when we decide not to run we have let down someone else (who also is hot/ cold wet..).
Try and find a running partner(s) who is either around your same level of athletic ability or someone who is more proficient but patient. Did I add that you should really get along with them?
Local running clubs also offer an opportunity to not only find running support but to create a social network as well.
Track your progress
What gets measured gets better.
While there are a number of great running logs available on-line a simple pocket note book will do.
Keep track of day you race, how far you went/ amount of time, weather conditions maybe even something unusual you saw (one time I had a coyote, or coy-dog, run in front of me while running a back road in Old Forge).
You will begin to impress yourself, “Wow, look how far I’ve progressed”!
On any given weekend leading up to the Boilermaker there are a number of races throughout the community. When you feel comfortable try out a 5k (3.1 miles) race. The goal is not to win but to get feeling comfortable with the preparation prior to a race, handling the start line, and learning to pace yourself. If you are local to Utica the weekly Developmental Runs are a nice option (with a hilly environment).
In early January we will be opening registration for the Boilermaker, maybe we’ll see you there!