No Elites, Plenty of Opportunity
In normal years, we use the terms elite and sub-elite to differentiate the Olympic caliber athletes who are competing for cash prizes from the just really, really, really good runners. Elite athletes are generally recruited by our elite runner committee, headed by Boilermaker pioneer Dick Mattia. Their lodging and travel is often subsidized, they usually have professional representation and they don’t go through the same registration process as the rest of us. They are in a class unto themselves.
The fact that the Boilermaker serves as a venue for these incredible athletes is just one of the things that makes this race such a special event, not to mention a bona fide professional sporting event. For one day of the year Utica, New York becomes the focal point of the international road racing scene.
This year, however, will not feature an elite field or a prize purse. While they will be missed and we can’t wait to welcome them back, their absence affords a unique and very special opportunity for the abundance of really, really, really good runners out there – the chance to be a Boilermaker champion. Being a Boilermaker champion would put one in the elite company of athletes like Catherine “the Great” Ndereba (4x Boston Marathon winner), Lidia Simon (5x time Romanian Olympian) and perhaps the most renowned distance runner of all time, Bill Rodgers, who won the 1983 Boilermaker along with four Boston Marathons and a list of accomplishments too long to include here.
Another storyline to follow: In recent decades, the competitive race has been dominated by international athletes, particularly the incredible runners hailing from Kenya and its East African neighbors. In fact, the Boilermaker has not seen an American winner since Ed Eyestone of Utah took the men’s open in 1991. For the women, it has been even longer. Michelle Bush-Cuke, running out of Brooklyn, was the last American woman to be crowned a Boilermaker champion in 1989. Without an official elite field or the allure of prize money, there is a good chance 2021 will see the first American winner in 30 years!
So who will break the tape for this historic, fall running of the Boilermaker? The field is wide open. It could be you.
-Jordan Peters, Boilermaker Marketing Director