It looked like 2012 was going to be a mild hurricane season, even though we were up to ‘R’ for named storms only two (tropical storms, Beryl& Debby) had made landfall in the U.S.; both were relatively benign.
Traditionally November 30th marks the official end of the hurricane season as water temperatures cool so it looked like we were going to skate through.
Then along came a cruel, cruel, pre-Halloween trick named Sandy blasting through the densely populated Northeast. Floods, fires, winds, and death- for many experiencing Sandy’s wrath it must have felt like the beginning of the apocalypse.
It seems incredible that this event occurred less than a week ago- it feels so much longer and I’m not there!
Current estimates are that 30,000 to 40,000 people are going to be long-term homeless (as a measuring stick that would be 63% of the population of Utica).
We aren’t talking about lack of electric power; we’re talking about no light switch because there aren’t any walls!
Here’s where we come in.
The Boilermaker is currently in the midst of filming a documentary chronicling our thirty five year history. The producer, Bill Keeler, had to go down to Manhattan this week for an interview so he had an idea.
Rather than driving downstate in a car, how about a truck?
How about a really big truck?
How about a really big truck filled with supplies destined for our devastated downstate neighbors?
What do they need? I put it in the category of stuff you really need but are never excited to buy at the store. A short list:
Garbage bags (big ones), cleaning products, mops, brooms, masks, baby food, diapers, batteries (especially the cherished ‘D’ size) cold medicine, feminine products, blankets, socks, underwear, toilet paper, dog food, gift cards to places like Home Depot and Lowes.
Hold back on the clothes donations (except what is listed).
If there is one thing that this community is known for is its giving spirit- it glows Heart Run& Walk Weekend, it shines Boilermaker Sunday, and it burns brightly as this community (that’s not the most affluent) supports a cause.
It’s time to light that candle, or should I say (hopefully) bonfire, once again.
On Tuesday, Wednesday, (8:00 am-8:00 pm) and Thursday (8:00am-3:00 pm) of this week you can drop off donations at Carl’s Furniture, 801 Wagner Street, Utica. There will be someone at the truck (that Carl’s is offering for free) to take your donation.
Think about this- in three weeks it will be Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) when we will sit at the table with family and friends.
Meanwhile some living downstate have burned their dining room table to simply keep warm. (Hence the title of this blog ‘Funny the Way It Is’, a song performed by Dave Matthews, speaking to the dramatically different experiences of different people at the same moment.)
If anything the Boilermaker’s core mission is about promoting positive change and making a difference in people’s lives.
Here is a chance for you to feel good about making someone you don’t even know feel good.
Sort of funny isn’t it?
It looked like 2012 was going to be a mild hurricane season, even though we were up to ‘R’ for named storms only two (tropical storms, Beryl& Debby) had made landfall in the U.S.; both were relatively benign.
I want you to think about four hours.
If you were to run a four hour marathon you’d be considered a middle of the pack runner.
If you were to drive four hours west on the Thruway, south down Route 87 you would we faced with the very depths of human misery.
I want to discuss the ING New York City Marathon which is scheduled to be run this Sunday (November 4th).
Let me be straight; there is no way I would like to be in Mary Wittenberg’s shoes; Mary is the CEO of the New York Road Runners that put on the marathon.
The decision to run the race after the recent devastation of Hurricane Sandy has certainly fomented a great deal of controversy. Let me be straight- I’m not coming down either way about running the race; the factors are incredibly complex and I have no idea of the ‘internals’ of the race. The whole thing feels like a Solomon’s choice.
Saying that, here’s what seems to be ‘the big rocks’ on either side of the argument.
Why not to have the race this year?
There is no doubt that there is a strain on the New York City public safety/ service group to support a race that travels through the five boroughs of New York. Race officials will now be using the services of private contractors to minimize the service of the NYPD.
The ability for the transportation system to support the movement of the runners to the start on Staten Island and from the post race located in Central Park seems Herculean. In fact the whole infrastructure seems pretty beat up.
At this point people in the area are cold, hungry, out of gas, and without electricity. The police are still in a body recovery mode. The race is perceived by many as a frivolous distraction. Should assets such as food and water be used for needy citizens rather than the runners?
Why to have the race this year?
This race provides a huge economic boost to The Big Apple; twenty thousand of this year’s field comes from outside the U.S.. It’s about the hotels, airlines, restaurants, and stores- thousands of employees benefit from the running of the race.
There is the ‘we can do this’ pride that New York City is famous for; we certainly saw it after 9/11.
Is it a good thing, for at least a few hours, to focus on something positive?
The New York City Road Runners have pledged one million dollars to the Mayor’s Fund and the American Red Cross and ING, the presenting sponsor, is donating an extra five hundred thousand dollars. I have no doubt that others, both individuals and companies aligned with the race will jump on this effort. Perhaps those from outside the New York City area who run the race and see the devastation will become the ambassadors to help the city? Maybe a grass-roots volunteer effort comprised of this year’s runners will happen- how great would that be!
To those running on Sunday- Godspeed.
To those who are in the suffering midst of this tragedy- God watch over you.
To those helping your neighbors and people you don’t even know- God bless you!
Well the 2013 BMW Berlin Marathon is over- well sort of. Organizers of the event (which will take place September 29th 2013) announced that the 40,000 field is filled. Here is the astounding part of the story- the race sold out in 3 ½ hours! The 2012 race was closed out in 6 ½ weeks.
Let’s have a short math class:
The 2012 Berlin event saw on average 37 entries per hour; the 2013 event saw 190 entries per minute!
This is a race that started in 1974 with 286 runners.
-Clearly the popularity of distance running extends far beyond our American shores. This growth has not been without a little controversy as long-time runners find themselves shut out of events with the influx of new participants.
- The days of major races (including the Boilermaker) to deal with paper race applications are over. The ability of race staff to manually have to rekey in a racer’s data with a surge like this is simply impossible. Welcome to the digital world.
- While the Boilermaker has not experienced the ‘hyper-growth’ that hit Berlin I expect the 2013 race to sell out faster than 2012.
Now a short history class:
The 2012 Boilermaker 15k sold out in roughly 100 days with 13,000 runners; we increased the field by 1,000 this year and it sold out in 65 days.
Also this year, for the first time, the 5k (4,000 runners) sold out; I expect that to happen again.
In late November we will be announcing the caps for the 2013 Boilermaker and on January 13th (at midnight) race registration will open.
Bottom line- there’s a race to get in the race- will you win?
The Mary that I am speaking of is Mary Wittenberg and what she is running is the New York Road Runners, the premier running club in New York City (and perhaps the world). The N.Y. Road Runners will host a small affair on November 4th called the ING New York City Marathon that will have nearly 50,000 participants.
On October 14th The New York Times ran an interesting spread on Mary specifically and about racing in general.
By every measure the N.Y. Road Runners are big- how big you ask?
Big budget- $59,000,000
Big staff- 150 (up from 60 when Mary became CEO in 2005)
Big names- Celebrities who have run the marathon include Jennifer Aniston, P. Ditty, Ed Norton, and Oprah.
Charitable giving is up, applications are up (150,000 applied for this year’s marathon), one would think that all is well with the kingdom; but that is not necessarily the case.
Mary has had her detractors and some of those criticisms speak to the greater problems of road racing throughout the U.S..
Due to the rapid growth of the sport races are selling out faster and faster leaving many long-time runners shut out- it makes them unhappy (sometimes very, very unhappy). The Boilermaker sold out in roughly 100 days in 2011, we added 1,000 runners this year and the number dwindled to 65 days. I expect the 2013 Boilermaker to sell out faster than this year regardless of what cap number is set.
Race Directors try to expand the field as much as possible to get in more participants while (hopefully) preserving the essential appeal of the event. In 2005, Mary’s first year, the field was 37,000, now many complain the field is simply too large to run a great time. There were some preliminary discussions between the Road Runners and the City of New York to conduct the marathon both Saturday and Sunday theoretically doubling the field size. While I have no idea where this went I wonder if Mayor Bloomberg would allow the streets of New York to be shut down on two consecutive days?
Then there is the question of escalating race fees, over the last eight years cost for Road Runners members to run the 26.2 mile race has escalated from $80 to $216- its $255 for non-members. Some of the increase is due to paying for police/ traffic control and some to support charitable outreach such as youth running and obesity.
So it is a delicate, delicate balancing act that will, unfortunately, leave some angry.
Ms. Wittenberg is clearly a visionary with a focus of expanding the reach of the Road Runners far beyond where Fred Lebow, the founder of the marathon, began. In 1970, the race’s inaugural year when it was simply run in Central Park, there were only 127 runners.
The question becomes does the general running public see the vision the same way?
Time will tell.
BTW- Mary nor only runs the N.Y. Road Runners but is a pretty good runner in her own right; in 1987 she qualified for the Olympic Trials after winning the Marine Corps Marathon in 2 hours 44 minutes.
Finally, good luck to all our local athletes that will be running in a couple weeks- have and run a great time!
Ok, I’m not going to talk about sex (but I did get your attention). Rather I’m going to deal with drugs and rock& roll.
The rock& roll is the Rock& Roll Half Marathon that took place in Providence, Rhode Island on August 19th.
The winner of the race, Christian Hesch who ran the race in one hour seven seconds, admitted to injecting erythropoietin (EPO) during his training regimen. EPO is a natural hormone that controls red blood cell production. Red blood cells are a critical component to increased oxygen capacity. I’m not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV) but oxygen transfer is critical to endurance.
As a side note Mr. Hesch made quite a name for himself at the race by stopping short of the finish line and knocking out five pushups prior to breaking the finishers tape. The competition was sprinting towards the finish during Christian’s stunt with a Kenyan runner finishing eight seconds behind.
The blood doping was uncovered by a fellow Nike team member who discovered an empty drug vial in Christian’s gym bag.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) was informed, and in September confronted Hirsh- he had never had to submit to drug testing in any previous races he had run. Perhaps the Lance Armstrong case loomed large in his mind; he decided to come clean (pun intended) with USADA on his drug use. Sanctions for drug use in road racing tend to be stiff, usually involving banning further competition by the guilty party for years.
A couple of points raised by this episode- one philosophical, and one specifically Boilermaker-related.
If one looks at sports road racing would seem to be one of the sports that be one of the more ‘entrancing’ to doping. We are a simple sport, you run faster than all the other people, with no real need of eye/ hand coordination that the ‘ball sports’ demand.
The Boilermaker has been drug testing for years and we make a big deal about it. We are involved with a group of races that work with USADA to keep the sport (or at least our race) clean. I’m convinced ‘the druggies’ think twice about entering races that drug test and head towards non-testing races (that usually have a smaller winner’s purse- Hesch won $1,000 at Providence). EPO use is pretty ‘old school’ and would have been caught in testing.
The cost of drug testing is expensive but I fear the cost of no testing would be far more costly to the sport. Just look at what the Armstrong case for cycling and the steroid-era that major league baseball continues to deal with.
Perhaps Christian should enter a pushup contest because road racing has no room for drugs.
This year the Boilermaker celebrated its 35th birthday.
In recognition of this significant we are putting together a documentary chronicling the race- do you want to be a part of it?
While there are several big stories about the race that most are familiar with, there are literally thousands of untold ones that we are searching for.
Think about a tapestry, if you look at the back of it all you will see is a jumble of thousands of seemingly random thread patterns giving no clue to the beauty on the opposite side.
Some possible ‘threads’:
Do you know someone (perhaps yourself) that has used the race as a catalyst for positive change?
Do you have some sort of tradition among family or friends that has been born because of the race?
The race is powered by volunteers, is there someone in the background that people don’t see or hear about but should?
Do you have a funny or goofy story that really needs ‘the light of day’?
You will need to feel comfortable being interviewed in front of a camera (or find someone who can do it).
I can’t guarantee that the story will make the final cut (I’m neither the producer nor director) but if you don’t step forward it will never be told.
We are also looking for video/ photos, especially from the early days. We promise to return them back safely.
The plan is for the documentary to air on TV prior to the running of the 36th Boilermaker.
So do you want to help?
Emails can be sent to: Stories@BoilermakerDocumentary.com or call (315) 520*8749.
The email arrived on May 21st. The author, 1st Lieutenant Jeff Ruso serving with the 108th Infantry deployed in western Afghanistan, wanted to have a Boilermaker ‘shadow run’. The 108th are hometown folks, based out of the Parkway Armory right along the Boilermaker course.
This would not be the first time we had been asked to support a race on foreign shores; previously we had three races in Iraq (2008, 2009, and 2011) and one in Afghanistan (2008).
Traditionally the biggest challenge is getting race support gear to a battlefield- enter Mohawk Global Logistics who did it for free! Our friends at Seiffert Graphics printed up the Start/ Finish Line banner at no cost. We sent running bibs, finishers pins, and camo tee shirts (with the Boilermaker running guy sporting a helmet) for all the participants.
Unfortunately, due to an emergency military mission the Afghan run did not take place on Boilermaker Sunday, July 8th. Instead it was run on July 20th with the athletes enduring 100 degree temperatures and nearly 30 mile winds. There was a 15k, 5k, and 15k team relay ruck (backpack) run. Included in the run were Maries, Air Force, Navy, and Italian Army personnel.
Guess what-the troops are home!
On Saturday October 6th from 2-6 pm we will be celebrating the return of the 108th. Done in conjunction with the FX Matt Brewery Octoberfest, we will be accepting the return of the Start/ Finish Line banner that was used half a world away. We will display it proudly in our office. The soldiers who participated in the run will receive their Boilermaker pint glass and goody bag. With two bands playing, Showtime and Gridley Paige, it will be a mini-Boilermaker Post Race Party! If you know someone with a fighter jet in their garage we’d love to have a flyover!
There will be a limited amount of Boilermaker Afghanistan camouflage tee shirts as well as the Boilermaker flyover poster taken this year available for sale at The Brewery Shop.
The general public is welcome; admission is five dollars. Come celebrate a special time of year with some very special people.
If you were to ask the average American: ‘What is the biggest military threat to our country’ what do you think the answer would be? Iran? North Korea? Terrorism? How about fat!
A group of 100 retired general& admirals have identified youth obesity as the number one problem for the U.S. military.
The report authored by this group called “To Fat to Fight” focuses on food options at the school level including having Congress eliminate the serving of junk food in schools in favor of healthier options.
The armed forces have a small pool to fish from; 75% of young people cannot enter the military due to a criminal record, lack of high school graduation, or being physically unfit. Currently roughly 27% of 17- 24 year olds are too overweight to enter the military- that’s 9,000,000 troops!
“The folks that are going to enter the military in 2025 are in school right now,” Retired Air Force Lieutenant General Norman Seip told Reuters. “So it’s up to us to ensure that when those children reach the age of between 17 and 24 that they are ready or eligible to join the military.”
While I agree that school lunches are an easy first target because of government control, the core problem resides in the home. I think it’s tough to legislate common sense.
The reasons for this crisis are many; fast food, addictive video games, employees glued to computer terminals, and lack of access to healthier food options. Currently, according to Nielsen, the average American watches 34 hours of television a week; that’s almost a full-time job!
Unfortunately this ‘enemy’ began its invasion generations ago and I fear it will take decades to finally declare victory.
In the end it’s about choices. It’s about choices about how we decide to treat ourselves. Rarely are the right choices the easy ones. It’s clearly easier to watch the latest episode of your favorite show (which you recorded so you can watch even more TV) than to walk, swim, or jog.
Don’t give up on yourself; there are a lot of people (family, friends, and perhaps the nation) that are depending on you!
“Give mother a hug
Father a kiss
The time has come
We have talked about it
Many times before
But the time is now”
From the poem: Leaving Home by Janice Andrade
My youngest leaves for college next week- there is an uneasy feeling in the Reed household; especially with Mama Bear.
So I take stock of this new experience.
Good things when there are just two of you in the house:
Less trips to the grocery store
You now know for sure who left that empty water bottle on the table.
Three drivers, two cars; enough said.
No more TV set blaring ESPN with no one in the room.
The washing machine/ dish washer will no longer be constantly on.
Worrying about that late night/ early morning phone call when they aren’t home.
Bad things when there are just two of you in the house:
Who will be there to show me which of the three TV remotes I need to use to record a show?
Ditto on issues with the cell phone
The work crew has been severely reduced on the mowing the lawn, washing the car, shoveling the walk, and moving the heavy stuff front.
Worrying about that late night/ early morning phone call when they are in college.
In our twenty four years of marriage my wife and I have had at least one kid in our lives for over twenty two of them. That means we have only spent 8% of our time together as just husband and wife.
I’m dreading the drive away from the dorm looking at my son in the rear view mirror and the inevitable crying spouse on the drive back.
Looks like more than one young man will have major changes in their lives.
I was pulling together a bunch of facts about this year’s race and rather than ramming them all together on one blog thought I’d spread them out. This is the first of interesting findings I came across.
For the first time in Boilermaker history woman runners outnumbered the men as participants. While men were 51% of the 15k women were 61% of the 5k. As a result the women squeaked out the win at 51%. In 2009, a mere four years earlier, men constituted 54% of the combined 15&5k field.
In 2009 if you were a woman between the age of 20 and 39 you represented 26.2% of the 15k field. Fast forward to 2012 you now represented 28.2% of a much larger number.
The ladies have had a hammerlock on 5k participation for years. In 2012 if you listed the top seven age/ gender categories they would all be women!
This reflects the national trend of the growth of female running participation.
If you look at participation at the half-marathon distance (13.1 miles, the closest published comparison numbers to the Boilermaker 15k) in 2011 women represent 59% of the field. In 2004, that number was 49%.
Just to give you a perspective of the growth of U.S. distance running, in the year 2000, 420,000 runners were finishers of a half-marathon. In 2011 that number skyrocketed to 1,610,000!
What does this mean? Well if we follow the national average one would surmise the women will soon represent the majority of runners for the 15k.
Frankly I’m convinced that women in general have better organization skills and as a result get signed up earlier than the guys who find themselves shut out of the race!