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Wilczynski Wins Coughlin Award After 32 Years of Service

Jul. 17, 2009

July 17, 2009 (Utica, NY) —  Long time Boilermaker enthusiast Joe Wilczynski was honored with the Bill Coughlin Award during the Volunteer Party on July 11.  The award is presented to a Boilermaker volunteer who displays courage, determination and one who responds to challenge in a positive way.

Bill Coughlin was a long-time runner, coach and director of physical education in the Rome City schools.  He always stayed at the finish line until the last runner crossed.  Coughlin, 55, died in 1983, three months into his retirement when a DWI driver hit and killed him during his daily run.  Each year the Boilermaker presents the Bill Coughlin Award to honor his name and legacy.

"I really appreciate the honor and am so thankful that I was considered for this award," Wilczynski said.  "The race this year was the best ever.  How can I describe it? It was simple awesome.  I believe the Boilermaker brings out the best in people and am so proud to be apart of it."

In 1976, Wilczynski took up running to help stay fit and to become healthier.  Two years later, the New York Mills native joined Earle Reed in the first Boilermaker 15k race.  He has been actively involved ever since. Then in 1997, the avid runner began to assist with the "Go the Distance" program to help train new runners and prepare them for their first Boilermaker.  Over the last 13 years, Wilczynski has single-handedly added over 150 runners to the race with his work through that program.  Despite a series of bone and muscle injuries over the years, he continues to keep on running.

 "Joe was the ideal candidate for this year award," said Tim Reed, executive director of the Boilermaker.  "He exemplifies Bill Coughlin's spirit, enthusiasm and character to the fullest.  Through his work with the 'Go the Distance' program, Joe has had a positive influence on both the race and the community."

Whenever Wilczynski is asked about the Boilermaker, whether it is from friends, family, or reporters, he always offers the same response: "The Boilermaker is the best 15k in the country!"  He is only one of fifteen runners who have participated in all 32 Boilermakers.