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Four Tips For a Successful Boilermaker (that have nothing to do with training)

This is a guest post by Boilermaker Ambassador Ryan Orilio. 

It’s taken me a number of years, but my day-of Boilermaker routine is pretty well honed by now. However, that may not be the case for any new or novice Boilermaker15k runners. If you’ve never run the race before, you can easily miss out on parts of the experience because you didn’t know what to expect. And even for those who have run before, it’s always worth reviewing how to make your experience as successful as possible.

To that end, here are 4 tips for having a successful Boilermaker experience, that have nothing to do with running or your training…

1-Get to the Start line early. 

There’s a lot that happens at the start. You may want to warm up a bit, grab some water, or socialize and take pictures with your friends. You’re very likely going to want to use the restrooms. All of those things will take time (especially the line for the restrooms). There’s nothing that can ruin your race day quicker than getting to the start too late and having to rush around. Everyone prepares for a race differently, but make sure you give yourself more than enough time at the start. 

Once you’re prepared, you’re going to want to head to your corral, and I also suggest heading there early. If you wait to head to your corrals, it will be crowded and frustrating to get there. Get to your corral early (with your friends) and you’re removing one thing to worry about before the gun goes off. 

2-Enjoy the unique aspects of the race. 

This race has some amazing things to see along the course. The community is awesome. Make sure to check out the things that the race has to offer throughout the 9.3 miles of pain that you’re putting your body through. Don’t zone out during the run. If you’re wearing headphones (which are discouraged by the race) make sure that your volume is low enough that you can still hear the cheer of the crowd and beleaguered breathing of the runners next to you. 

Every new runner should make sure to check out these community milestones on the race course. 

  • Unity Mile. A mile long celebration of all of the cultures in Utica. So many different nationalities, musical styles, and performers. It’s still early in the race, but such a cool cross-section of our community to see.
  • Kelly’s Popsicle Stand. On the downhill portion of the Parkway, between miles 4 and 5. The popsicle stand has been around for many years. Make sure to get a sweet treat to recharge during the downhill portion of this mile. Pro Tip: every single one of the volunteers at Kelly’s Popsicle Stand will high-five you as you’re running by them. 
  • The animals at the Utica Zoo. These change every year. Sometimes it’s a snake, sometimes a llama…. it’s a surprise every to me as I run by. If you like animals, stop and get a pic with this years Utica Zoo Boilermaker squad and whatever furry, scaly, or hairy companion they have with them this year. 
  • The showers on Burrstone Rd. These can be a lifesaver. Run under the showers for a quick refresh, just before mile 9. You’ll cool off, and get some much-needed help through that final mile-plus to the finish line. 


3-Don’t expect to meet anyone at the finish line. 

It is a huge mass of sweaty runners, great volunteers, and spectators. After you finish the volunteers will corral you down Varick street, and then Hamilton, towards the post-race party. This is a terrible place to meet your family and friends. Volunteers will be trying to keep you moving, and it’s crowded there already. Do yourself (and your family or friends) a favor and tell them to meet you at the post race party instead. 


4-Stay for the Party.

You don’t want to miss the party. Trust me, it’s worth it. But to make it a bit more enjoyable (after all, you did just run 9.3 miles) bring some sunscreen, a dry shirt, and sandals. You can check a bag at the Boilermaker start, or tell your friends and family who are there to support you to bring them for you. There’s nothing better than putting on a clean, dry shirt, and taking off your running shoes after a race. It’s pure bliss. 


There’s plenty to see and do at the party, but I recommend starting with replenishing a little bit of spent fuel first. There is food all over at the party. Personally I always look forward to a Chobani yogurt. The pirogies from the Polish Community home are to die for too!


The music at the party is always top-notch. Go dance. The band is fantastic, and seeing the awards ceremony is pretty cool too. In the past, I’ve always looked forward to the aircraft flyover. It’s a kinda surreal experience to be a part of an event of this magnitude. 


The entire race is a great experience, one that I suspect you’ll remember for a long time. There’s a reason that I tell folks that Boilermaker weekend is better than Christmas. It’s because it’s true. 


You’re already trained for the 9.3 miles, keep these things in mind to help the rest of the day be as successful as your run! I sincerely wish you the best of luck on your run, and hope you will continue to come back for the Best 15K in the World!

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