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A good run or running for good

March 25th, 2015

Well the preferred and open registration is over and the field is more or less set.
Currently there are over 600 folks on our waiting list to participate in either the 15 or 5k races.
Currently we have a bit over 90 charity bibs (as of this writing) that could make some of those folks wait a lot shorter.
Many changes this year, a new fundraising platform, CrowdRise and many new not for profits who’s mission span the gamut of our community needs. All the money stays local.
Perhaps our biggest change is giving our charity runners more time to raise money. In the past we would make mandatory that our runners would need to have hit their minimum prior to the race. This year we are giving our folks until August 1st (two weeks after the race has been run) to get their pledges in.
So, assuming you sign up to be a charity bib runner on April 1st you have 4 months, or roughly 18 weeks, to raise the minimum. If you need to raise $500 that’s a bit over $27 a week.
The first thing you need to do is choose an organization that resonates with you. If in some way a friend, family or yourself has been touched by one of these groups your sincerity will go a long way to achieving your goal. In the end it will be your friends who will get you to the financial finish line. Go to the charity bib icon at boilermaker.com and check out the 21 agencies in this year’s class.
While it’s great to dream about an Uncle Moneybags willing to totally underwrite your endeavor reality is usually far different. It’s simply easier to get 5 bucks from 10 people than 50 bucks from 1.
The old saying certainly fits here. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
So some ideas-
Give some of it yourself: it’s clearly an easier to ‘sell’ that people give to an organization you are willing to give to.
Give up that second cup of coffee that you buy, immediately put that money in a charity jar.
Does your company have a matching gifts program? No harm in asking.
Have a garage sale- a great way to clean up your house while raising some easy money.
A Bake sale, book sale, perhaps a raffle for a gift basket (try and get the stuff donated by merchants).
Recycling cans, ask friends neighbors to help.
Do you have a special talent that you can charge people for? Gardening, knitting or cooking class.
A final comment, while people are donating for you to run lets remember the core focus is to raise money for organizations that serve our community.
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
― John Bunyan

The Race to the Race

March 21st, 2015

I thought it might be a bit different to chronicle what happens today from a real-time perspective. This will be an interesting day: I wonder in what ways…
Its Saturday morning, March 21st at 6:00 AM, and I have some of the same butterflies in my stomach that occur that second Sunday in July.
There will be a big race taking place at noon today, albeit digital rather than physical.
It’s Open Registration Day for the 2015 Boilermaker!
Preferred Registration, the chance for runners of the 2014 Boilermaker to get signed up ended last night at midnight.
Here’s what it looks like with advanced registration:
15k- 7,846
So today we will have available a bit over 6,100 slots available and 2,300 for the 15k and 5k races respectively.
While this entire process is new to us, I am a bit surprised that more didn’t partake in the opportunity to sign up early. We saw an initial surge on opening day nearly 11,000 hits on boilermaker.com that leveled to around 3,000 during the following week. Obviously those hits do not translate into registrants, they could be visiting anywhere on the site.
So here is what I expect at noon (and beyond).
 A mass of folks locked on to boilermaker.com waiting for high noon. We have the same bandwidth horsepower from Quadsimia, our webhosting company, that we had last year when we were processing 800 runners a minute. RunSignUp, the folks you actually register with, say they are good to go.
 A quick sellout.
Jim, the race director, had predicted around a half hour, my thoughts: twenty minutes. However, in full excuse mode, I made the prediction prior to the end of Preferred Registration.
 Many unhappy emails/ calls from people who didn’t get in. This is a given. The worst are the ones from people who were halfway through the registration process and got shutout as the cap is reached.
And I sit here and wonder…
The automated wait list, which, like preferred registration, is new-will people use it?
Will people who find themselves shutout become Charity Bib Runners? At this point there are around a hundred bibs available.
In the office at 10:00 AM
Looking at the analytics there are a solid 100 folks floating around various areas of the website. We’ve already had a couple of calls from people wanting to know why they can’t register- not noon Eastern Standard Time yet!
Five minutes till noon according to the countdown clock on the website, the herd of folks in the waiting mode has risen to over 950, this includes 11 from Canada, and 1 each from St. Martin and the Virgin Islands plus two from the United Kingdom.
It’s noon, 1,600 at the line- it’s show time!!
The number slowly climbed to 2,300 then began to slowly drop as people completed the registration process.
Within 30 minutes we had 11,800 signed up for the 15k and 3,488 for the 5k. Would the 5k, for the first time ever, sell out prior to the 15k?
I saw Ireland, Germany, Puerto Rico, Italy, the Dominica Republic and Rwandan come across the analytics screen.
The rather manic nature of the initial minutes settled to a more routine pace.
So I was way off on the time we would hit the registration cap.
That’s OK- in fact that’s more than OK.
While it’s great to have bragging rights for a quick close to the race but with that comes more folks who found themselves on the outside looking in.
When you have a stampede, people get run over!
Clearly the preferred registration had a massive effect on today’s sign up.
So nice, no panicky calls, the phones were eerily silent. A quick look at our facebook page showed favorable comments about the process.
At some point this evening the 5k and 15k races will sell out.
I will in all likelihood be asleep when the individual races are sold out.
How funny to reread what I wrote at 6 this morning.

Registration Review Part 1

March 16th, 2015

Saturday March 14th was a notable day in Utica beyond the St. Patrick’s Day Parade which, thank the leprechauns, ended up being relatively rain-free: it was also the first day of registration for the 2015 Boilermaker Road Race.
But let’s back up a bit…
Looking at the ‘demand curve’ over the previous years we knew we were going to be interesting territory in 2015.
A look back in time of sold out registrations.
2012: 72 days
2013: 3 days
2014: 2 and 1/2 hours
It seemed clear that the days of ‘first come first served’ had pretty much reached its end, so the question was what was the alternative?
Most of the major races who found themselves in the same boat as us resorted to a lottery-based system. Initial feedback from our participants was nearly universal ‘we really hate that idea’. The primary reason was people who had many years running the race would now find themselves thrown in the ocean with countless others and, hopefully, get chosen to run this year’s race. We heard them…
The solution was to set a baseline of everyone that ran last year’s race; that would take care of people who had Boilermaker streaks going.
What was an unintended benefit to this was we could, at least for this group because they were so clearly defined let the registration time be expanded.
We settled on a week to let them sign up.
Well at noon on the 14th there were over 2,500 people queued up at boilermaker.com ready to sign up.
My, we are such creatures of habit!
Within the ten minutes 1,800 had registered, 3,300 after the first half hour. By the end of the day we had nearly 7,000 folks signed up for the 15k and 5k Races.
Sunday saw an additional 1,000 join the ranks.
We saw a huge rise in the use of mobile phones/ tablets as the preferred method to register.
For the first time mobile devices outnumbered desktops units 52-48%: will be interesting to see if that trend holds over the course of registration.
Crazy times are coming-on Saturday March 22nd at noon when we fill out the remainder of the field with open registration.
I think this will be a rather short day.

Miracle Miles

February 28th, 2015

No I’m not talking about Vernon Downs, I’m talking about the Boilermaker Charity Bib Program.
On March 3rd we open registration for the 3rd annual Boilermaker Charity Bib Program on boilermaker.com.
While there is much I am proud of concerning the Boilermaker, the Charity Bib holds a really special place in my heart. I am the #1 cheerleader of these folks as they run alone, yet together.
If the core role of the Boilermaker is to change people’s lives (and I think it is) then a program like this is simply a natural extension.
So much new this year…
More bibs (60 bibs over last year) and more charities (21 vs. 11 in 2014). Charity bibs are over and above the official race caps.
BTW, the most charities and requests for bibs making the judging committee’s job this year very, very tough.
We have a new fundraising platform, CrowdRise, to support the effort. In the running space they are simply the company of choice, just ask the Boston, New York and Chicago Marathons.
This year we now can have Boilermaker runners who aren’t charity runners become a part of an organizations fundraising team. Imagine if we could get 5% of our regular runners energized to support one of these causes- that’s 925 people! In fact I think it will be critical to enlist the support of these folks who would be willing to fundraise for no other reason that it’s the right thing to do. Which leads to the next new thing- setting an overall fundraising goal.
The past two years we have never set a goal; we just sort of declared victory and celebrated success. I’m a big believer having challenging goals. Without them it’s like running a race and there’s no finish line, or simply residing, inertly, in our comfort zone.
So drum roll please, and the goal is(gulp) – $250,000. We hit this number and the Boilermaker will have generated a half a million dollars for local not for profits since the inception of the program.
We will be having some pretty cool prizes for our top affiliated runners (charity bib folks) and unaffiliated runners (people are regular Boilermaker runners who join a charity team).
Finally, what I guarantee will be a series of inspiring stories from runners lacing up their running shoes for the right reason. Over the past two years I have had tears in my eyes a number of times reading the stories of folks feeling honored to raise money for a specific charity.
I will, with permission, share them with you.
Hey, running is great for your personal health – running to help someone that you probably will never know is (in my opinion) pretty good for the health of the soul.
Become a miracle worker…

A Digital Facelift

January 26th, 2015

No doubt those who embrace social media are Boilermaker folks.
With 55% of Boilermaker participants are between the ages of 20 and 45 they are a facebooking, instagramming and tweeting bunch!
It was feeling like boilermaker.com needed our web host and site developer
Besides offering a responsive website, meaning the site will automatically resize for mobile/ tablet use, the landing pages look has taken on a much more exciting feel.
However, perhaps the most dramatic change you will encounter is on the Boilermaker facebook page.
When we met with the Quad folks, they proposed a radical departure from where we had been. Prior the vast majority of facebook posts were about some specific aspect of the Boilermaker.
What they proposed was a stronger focus on the community with the Boilermaker interwoven. The Boilermaker has been nurtured by this community and most of our runners call ‘the 315’ home: it made perfect sense!
So every week you will see a different theme that will, hopefully, spur interest. Over the past few weeks we have highlighted the good work of our communities not for profits, offered some great recipes (nutritious and taste good) and give athletes the opportunity to ask questions of medical professionals.
Once a month we will have a segment called ‘You are my hero’ featuring an individual who has represented the ideals of the Boilermaker.
Liberally sprinkled throughout the site are running tips, inspirational quotes and photos.
Well something must be working because our numbers have dramatically improved.
A big thank you to Kandi Humpf at Quadsimia who both compiled the stats and acts as our chief facebook guru (unsure if that is on her business card).
So here is ‘the tale of the tape’ over the last eight weeks:



Change (#)

Change (%)

Facebook Total Likes





Facebook Average # of Users Engaged Daily





Facebook Average # of Users Engaged Weekly





Facebook Average Weekly Reach





Instagram Followers





Twitter Followers





Twitter Total Impressions





Twitter Daily Impressions





Twitter Engagement Rate





Twitter Link Clicks





Twitter Retweets





Twitter Favorites





Twitter Replies





Thank you to all who like, comment, retweet and share!

Kilometers of Kindness

January 19th, 2015

There is so much the Boilermaker should be proud of.
Inspiring people to conquer goals they thought they could never achieve (physical health).
Generating literally millions of dollars that gets pumped into the local economy (economic health).
In a way the Boilermaker Charity Bib Program does a bit of each.
This year marks the third year of the program: in two years we have raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars for charity.
Last year thirty one participants raised over a thousand dollars.
What is priceless are the stories of the runners who laced up to do the right thing.
What’s the same as last year?
Charities chosen most have a presence in our community. This area built the Boilermaker, we can do no less than give back.
A runner must commit to raising a minimum of $500 for one of the charities of choice. Folks can participate in the 15k, 5k or 3 Mile Walk. A reminder, the Charity Bibs are over and above the standard race caps (14,000 runners for the 15k and 4,500 for the 5k): Charity Bibs are not ‘stolen’ from the general field.
Similar to last year we will be offering charity bib signups two weeks prior to the opening of preferred registration.
So you if you really, really want to be guaranteed getting into the race here is your chance.
We will be announcing the charities at the end of February via the media and of course on boilermaker.com.
Charity Bib registration opens on March 3rd. This gives our charity bib folks literally months to hit their number.
So what’s new this year?
We have raised the amount of Charity Bibs from 200 to 250.
We have limited the amount of bibs an organization can receive so hopefully we give more charities the opportunity to participate.
Perhaps the biggest change this year is partnering with CrowdRise.
So what is CrowdRise Tim?
Glad you asked Tim!
CrowdRise is simply the biggest fundraising platform in the sporting space. Marathons such as Boston, New York, Chicago and LA all utilize CrowdRise.
The most exciting change is for a Boilermaker runner who is not a Charity Bib runner to join a charity team. We are hoping these ‘unaffiliated runners’ decide to raise funds for one of these worthy organizations.
Think about if: two hundred of these runners raise a $100 for a charity simply because it’s the right thing to do and a quick $20,000 flows to our local charities of choice.
We are going to inject a bit of fun into the charity campaign this year offering prizes to inspire and motivate. The individual charity runners will find CrowdRise a fantastic ‘big megaphone’ to hit (and hopefully surpass) their fundraising goals.
This simple quote says it all about those I dub ‘The Champions of Charity Bib’. Those folks who run the roads in honor, memory or to help someone they don’t even know.
“I run because I can.
When I get tired, I remember those who can’t run, what they’d give to have this simple gift I take for granted, and I run harder for them.
I know they would do the same for me.”

Yearend Musings

December 29th, 2014

The end of the year invariably brings with it a look back at what has transpired over the previous twelve months. We will be bombarded with 2014’s biggest stories, sexiest men/ woman; who was born and who died.
Time awards it’s Person of the Year; Ebola fighters. Meanwhile in Russia Vladimir Putin has been named Man of the Year for the fifteen straight year- such a surprise.
I am usually a bit reticent in looking at the race from an end of the year perspective as the cycle we work in doesn’t necessarily fit the format. Sponsor meetings are well underway. We have already established and announced the registration rules, dates and revealed the 2015 logo.
But as the end of the year is a time of thoughtful reflection, a point when we look in the rear view mirror of the past and begin to imagine peering through the front windshield of the future.
This was my seventh Boilermaker as president and 2014 turned out to be a doozey.
This year was both our fastest sellout and largest field in Boilermaker history. Our move to West Utica and the slow rehab of our new building. We rebuilt the website and have reenergized out social media presence. Our biggest year helping organizations raise money via charity bib.
Oh yeah, a potential weather event that put the race at one point in doubt of happening!
For me personally 2014 was a year of highs and lows.
Biggest High- Middle son entered the world of work with an accounting firm in Boston. One more to get through college, getting to the final mile of college payments!
Biggest Low- Forced to putting down my dog of 14 years; Buddy’s birthday would have been on Christmas. Still having problems with this months later.
Turned 60 this year; unsure whether this belongs in the high or low category. I don’t feel like I’m 60 or what I assume 60 is.
Some feel don’t act 60- unsure if that is a compliment or complaint.
Looking ahead:
Will be interested to see the new registration process in action. We really have bent over backwards to give runners numerous opportunities to run the race.
Perhaps most excited with seeing the Boilermaker championing new efforts to help bring genuine change to our community; more on that later!
Hoping you have a fantastic 2015.
‘Here’s a toast to the future, A toast to the past,
And a toast to our friends, far and near.
May the future be pleasant; The past a bright dream;
May our friends remain faithful and dear’.

Up in Smoke

December 14th, 2014

‘Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette
Puff, puff, puff and if you smoke yourself to death
Tell Saint Peter at the golden gate that you hate to make him wait
But you got to have another cigarette’
From the song Smoke Smoke Smoke That Cigarette
Merle Travis/ Tex Williams 1947
Let me start out that I absolutely hate the new anti-smoking commercials on TV featuring a woman named Mary who has suffered through the ravages of lung/ throat cancer and rendered to looking like a stand-in for The Walking Dead TV series. Invariably I am in the process of eating and quickly lose my appetite. I guess they also serve as weight loss aid!
I am in no way a defender of smoking, my Dad started smoking at the age of 14 (the year was 1930) working himself up to 2 packs of Camels a day. His smokers cough in the bedroom next door would wake me up in the morning followed by hearing the click of the lighter. Although he had quit (cold turkey) decades before his death he ended up at one point losing part of his lung.
Certainly the national stance on smoking has dramatically shifted from when I was in the military in the early 70’s where inside your c-rations was a 4 pack of cigarettes, vintage World War II.I always traded mine, usually for powdered hot chocolate.
The issues swirling around smoking are as complex as the list of ingredients in a cigarette (of which there are over 500). I don’t want to touch on the health issues; they are a given. Let’s talk about money.
New York State currently has the highest cigarette tax in the nation coming in at $4.35 a pack ($5.85 in New York City). So stop by your local convenience store and you’ll be paying around $10 a pack.
There have been some interesting by-products from this.
CNN estimates that 60% of all cigarettes are smuggled in from out of state (primary culprit Virginia who only has a 30 cent tax) depriving New York of over one and a half billion dollars.
Certainly the nicotine addiction cuts both ways when you have a habit that pours vast amounts of cash into the state coffers. I’m unsure how much of these ‘sin tax’ funds are earmarked for smoking secession programs or just get funneled into the general fund.
Secondly I am struck by that it appears that those that are least affluent are the core of the smoking ranks. A study by RTI’s Public Health Policy Research Program showed that wealthier puffers spend on average 2% of their income; for the poor it’s 25%- Wow 1 in 4 of a persons dollars are literally going up in smoke!
The medical and human costs for smoking are massive. The American Lung Association pegs the costs for New York State at north of fourteen billion dollars and over thirteen thousand lives a year.
Some perspective on the human toll, we are currently losing twice the number of our fellow New Yorkers from tobacco than we have lost in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (2001-2014); and that is just in one year!
Thanks a lot Sir Walter Raleigh…

The Hazards of the Holidays

December 5th, 2014

The hazards I speak of aren’t the ones like a Christmas tree falling on you which has happened to me. Or as a child touching the metal part of an electric socket as you plug in the tree lights; again guilty as charged (electrically as well).
No, the dangers of that I speak of are the catastrophic calories.
We have entered the official perfect storm of weight gain. Too many parties, too much food, too much snow which can lead to too little exercise.
Even the Sun works against us as we go to work, its dark we leave work and it’s guess what –it’s dark!
We are offering every opportunity to go down the trail of bad health. While we all love Santa we certainly don’t want to look like him!
I am not educated as a professional personal trainer. Nor do I have Dr. written in front of my name. I’m just a guy who has been around awhile and is involved in the sport of running. So take my comments with as many gains of salt as you like (but watch your sodium levels).
Let’s keep it simple.
Think of your body as an engine with a gas tank (your stomach). Put lousy gas (unhealthy food) into the tank and the engine doesn’t run well. Keep filling the tank with gas while not running the engine and the tank keeps getting bigger and bigger.
An easy equation; the amount of time involved in an activity multiplied by exertion equals calories burned.
Try and strike a healthy balance between the amount of time you exercise and the level of that exercise.
Please, please, use good common sense! Remember it took you a bit of time to get in the shape you are in; likewise to be the person you want to be.
What gets measured gets better!
Start by writing down what you ate/ exercised being as specific as possible.
This will do many things:
You will tangibly see what you have consumed in a given day; you might be surprised.
It will act as a small blinking red light to eat stuff you know isn’t good for you. If you know you have to write it down (which demands honesty) perhaps you won’t open that bag of chips or the refrigerator. BTW, eating directly out of the refrigerator is usually never a good idea!
Buy a pedometer that measures steps or one of the latest activity bands. Have an internal contest with yourself to top the previous daily/ weekly activity.
Easy exercise
For some getting to the gym can be a problem.
Think about ways to burn calories in everyday life.
While the shortest distance between two points is a straight line that might not be the healthiest. Try walking to class or to a meeting along a different, longer route; mix in stairs if possible. Obviously build in time so you aren’t late!
Do you really need to park at the closest spot next to work or the store?
Get up from behind that computer every 45 minutes or so and move around; it’s better for both brain and body.

Final thoughts
Always remember a healthy lifestyle, or healthier than where you are, is a continual journey not a destination.
Sometimes it’s nice to make the trip with someone else; everyone can use a good support system.
This is the season of hope; let’s hope our bath scale doesn’t become the Grinch that stole Christmas!

Kilometers for Kim

November 25th, 2014

I am always drawn to offbeat stories, throw in a running aspect and I’m all in!
The Kim in question isn’t Kim Kardasian but Kim Jung-Un the ‘Dear Leader’ of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) aka North Korea.
And no, this isn’t a new charity bib program (but maybe it is).
For those of you that don’t qualify for the 2015 Boston Marathon perhaps you are interested in the Pyongyang Marathon? The running of Boston is April 20th, Pyongyang April 12th.
Not surprisingly in the history of the marathon is classic North Korean.
The marathon has been in existence since 1981. In its history according to Wikipedia:
It was not held 6 years.
Five of the years it’s unknown who won.
In the last 14 years, on the female side, a North Korean woman has won every time (such a surprise). The North Korean men have only won 7 out of 14, but hold the course record (2:10:50).
This might be one of the race’s that beats the Boilermaker for spectator participation (and there aren’t many like that).
The marathon begins and ends at Kim Ill Sung Stadium with 50,000 folks in the seats.
Likewise, expect a great spectator presence along the entire course; there’s something about a guy who routinely throws his people in work camps to get the crowd out.
If you aren’t up to running a full marathon a half marathon and 10k are also available.
Interesting time limits, for the marathon and half marathon, 4 hours; for the 10k 2 hours.
Although this is a relatively flat course, it means you need to run an average pace of slightly over a 9 minute mile every one of the 26 (and .2) miles to beat the clock cutoff. However, run the half marathon (and no, running a marathon is not just 2 half marathons; ask someone what mile 18 feels like) and you are allowed 18 minutes- only in North Korea!
The only way to sign up for the race is to go through a travel agency that includes either a 4 or 8 day tour.
The itinerary includes a fascinating tour of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum (where you will learn from your’ impartial’ guides that the Americans and South Koreans actually started the Korean War and the North Koreans won).
Expect a tour of the USS Pueblo, captured in 1968.
The do’s and don’ts are an absolute hoot- a few examples.
-Do Behave with respect to the regime and more importantly to its leaders, this is crucial for a good relation with the tour guides.
-Don’t insult the leaders publicly, this might not only get you in trouble but it will for sure ruin your relationship with the guides who are the gatekeepers of your visit.
-Do take some luxury goods (cigarettes, shampoo (a luxury item?), cosmetics, etc.) to present as gifts to the guides as gratitude upon arrival. Tip your tour guides and drivers at the end of the trip.
Don’t Go to North Korea if you are a journalist or a photographer, this can seriously mean trouble for you and your guides.
This is the second year the DPRK is actively promoting foreign participation in their marathon. It certainly feels like a way for them to get some foreign currency in their coffers.
Finally it has been announced that every foreigner arriving, regardless of nationality, must be quarantined for 21 days due to Ebola fears.
Again, only in North Korea!