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Cleaning the Course

One of the hallmarks of the Boilermaker, thanks to countless folks, is by the afternoon of Boilermaker Sunday you can’t tell a race, with thousands of participants, had taken place that morning.
We really strive to leave the area a little cleaner than when we came.
I want to talk about picking up but I’m not talking about discarded water cups.
As you may recall, last year’s Boilermaker was a rather interesting one. A large storm front with severe thunder and lightning/ hail was sweeping across the U.S. with initial predictions showing it hitting Utica as early as noon Boilermaker Sunday. This was the closest the race in its 37 year history has come to being cancelled. While later weather models showed a better chance of the storms hitting a bit later we wanted to take no chances.
Water stations, course entertainment, aid stations were informed to teardown as soon as the last runner passed. Tables needed to be broken down, trash picked up, tents disassembled and bands electric equipment put away.
At 8:00 am the 15k runners took off and I thought to myself ‘there’s no stopping it now!’
In the Unified Command Center we were informed at 9:00 am (1 hour into the race) by a Utica Police mobile unit that the last participants (can’t call them runners) were at Mohawk Valley Community College- that’s mile 2!
We quickly dispatched a bus to begin to pick up the ‘back of the packers ‘ who had no chance of getting to the Finish Line prior to the race shutting down. Most were dealing with some sort of medical conditions.
Fortunately the storm system we planned on didn’t hit the region until later in the afternoon. What it did do was to force us to deal with the on-going problem of people walking the course.
We did research on what other long-distance races do. In general common practices were if you can’t maintain a 14/15 minute pace there would be no guarantees of water/ aid stations, participants would be instructed to move to the sidewalk if they decided to continue and ‘sweep buses’ would transport folks to the Finish Line Area.
Certainly a central focus of the Boilermaker is running (pun intended) a safe race. That safety mantra extends beyond the participants: it encompasses the volunteers and the spectators along the course.
Think about it, you have volunteers and public safety folks who have been hard at work hours before the race begins. We end up with hundreds of people waiting on a handful.
Then there are the homeowners along the course who find themselves unable to leave their houses. It’s simply unfair to them (and the community in general) to not have access to the streets in a reasonable time.
Currently we have a 2 ½ hour time limit after the last person crosses the Start line: that’s usually around 13 minutes so we’re talking about 2 hours and 45 minutes. BTW, there is nothing more infuriating for the Start Line folks and timing company than seeing people walking at the start.
After discussions with members of public safety, medical and the transport committee we settled on a plan of action.
Here it is:
We will position sweep buses at the halfway point of the race (bus 1) and at the 10k point (bus 2). After 9:30 am bus 1 comes into play, 9:55 am for bus 2. We strongly encourage people to use the bus if they hit these two points at or after these times because you are, short of a miracle, not going to hit the Finish Line prior to shutdown of the clocks.
We are now less than two weeks away from the Boilermaker: it should be pretty clear to you at this point that you are capable of running 9.3 miles of a challenging course in the middle of July. Expect heat and humidity.
So what can you do if you feel you aren’t ready for this year’s 15k; a few things.
Transfer down to the 5k. If you have a least a little giddy-up, hopefully you can run 3.1 miles. The 5k has a 45 minute time limit. At this point the only way to dropdown is to drop-in to the customer service table at the Expo and request a transfer to the 5k.Just for those wondering, we do not allow transfers from the 5k up to the 15k.
If you feel you can’t even do the 5k within the time limit perhaps do the 3 Mile Walk that takes place Saturday July 11th at Masonic Care Community. No time limit and a really nice course: truly a walk in the park.
Defer till next year. While you will have to pay to get into the 2016 Boilermaker you will have a place in the race (you still need to sign up next year) and, hopefully, be in condition to run it.
It’s interesting; at the last Boilermaker Full Committee Meeting (these are the 150 folks who mange every aspect of the race) the announcement of this policy was met with enthusiastic applause.
Hey, I guess there’s a reason it’s called the Boilermaker Road Race.

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