I’ve worked for the Boilermaker over three years now. I’ve run the 15K five times, the last coming in 2016. Here’s a bit of irony: since making the Boilermaker my profession, my own road running prowess has hit the skids. The reason is simple; now that participating is no longer practical, I’ve lost the looming prospect of the Boilermaker 15K to motivate me each spring. I only bring this up to acknowledge the transformative potential the Boilermaker’s challenge presents. It really does change lives.
This led to another, potentially obvious, thought – this race is supposed to be hard! Aren’t all great achievements? There’s a reason the 15K world record will never be set here despite attracting the world’s best runners. This is a difficult race by any standard.
In the weeks before Boilermaker Sunday, we receive hundreds of requests from 15K registrants looking to drop down to the more approachable 5K. We understand there are countless reasons for doing this, including injury. And we are generally happy to accommodate these requests because runner safety is our number one concern. And we are incredibly proud of our 5K event too.
But I can’t help but wonder how many of these runners simply opted for the easier route – the path of least resistance, or just convinced themselves that the 15K is just too hard. If you’re finding that description hits close to home, here is my 2020 challenge to you: embrace the difficulty of the 15K.
For any runner, let alone a weekend warrior like myself, 15 kilometers is a formidable distance and the course is a challenging one but there are more than enough water stations to keep you hydrated, running partners to push you along, spectators to keep you motivated and the best distance party in road racing as your reward. And just remember, it’s supposed to be hard. Hard makes it great.