Boilermaker Blog

What’s In a Name?

What’s In a Name?

…That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet…Just kidding, this blog post has nothing to do with Shakespeare and everything to do with a recurring question that we deal with down here at 805 Court Street. Why is it called the Boilermaker?

It is amusing to hear all the popular legends that have sprung up to explain the name. A common one we hear is that the name is due to the oppressive July heat that often accompanies race day. Others assume it is a tangential reference to Purdue University.  Actually the Boilermaker’s Run, as it was called in the beginning, was named by race founder Earle Reed as a nod to the businesses that marked (and continue to mark) the start and finish lines.

Of course the start line has always been outside of ECR International, known in 1978 as Utica Radiator Corp, the Reed’s family business. The site was actually more known for manufacturing cast iron radiators and baseboard than boilers but Earle believed in not letting facts get in the way of good marketing.

Meanwhile across town, the F.X. Matt Brewery has always served as the race finish line and host of distance running’s best post-race party. The race’s identity is summed up in one of its early catchphrases, “Utica Radiator to Utica Club”. Moreover, some of our more mischievous readers may know that a boilermaker is pub jargon for a shot of whiskey accompanied by a beer.

"Utica Radiator to Utica Club" - Commemorative Mug From the first Boilermaker

“Utica Radiator to Utica Club” – Commemorative Mug From the first Boilermaker

So there you have it. Start at a heating and cooling product manufacturer and end at a beloved family brewery and you have a Boilermaker Road Race. So concludes today’s history lesson.

Ric Rojas Approaching the Brewery on His Way to Victory in the First "Boilermaker's Run" in 1978

Ric Rojas Approaching the Brewery on His Way to Victory in the First “Boilermaker’s Run” in 1978


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