by Jean O'Toole, New York Beef Industry Council
The mercury is starting to inch its way up the thermometer and runners are springing into action! Boilermaker meetings are being conducted and the sneaker stores have stocked their shelves with brand name shoes, socks and running gear!
I attended a Boilermaker meeting last week along with 30 other hopeful runners. I say hopeful, because the Boilermaker has the mystique of enticing first time runners and retired runners out of retirement, to join in on the fun and magic that only a community like Utica can offer.
The veteran runners get into the action this time of year to boast the number of times they have run the race. And local communities along the route start planning their "block parties," which are four cheering sections with bands, banners, cow bells and whistles to help runners "get through" their part of the course. The winning block party wins a party!
But the Boilermaker's mystique doesn't end with the runners or the spectators. The most incredible part of every Boilermaker are the volunteers! There are 6,500 volunteers. And if that isn't enough...there is a WAITING LIST to boot! The volunteers are amazing people that attend to every aspect of the race. Talk about dedication! They may not run the event, but they ensure that the runners that do race, run it effortlessly!
This year's Boilermaker is #31! What started 31 years ago with 800 runners has evolved into a race second to none with over 12,000 runners in 2007 and more expected this year.
I ran the Boilermaker 12 years ago in 1996, my first and only time. I admit I was enticed by the spirit of the race and was brought to tears during the race many times by the overwhelming camaraderie of runners, volunteers and spectators, encouraging wheelchair participants as they struggled up the Valley View Hill (the one challenging hill) and the kind words of volunteers as they handed you water, "you can do it...you have made it this far...go for it."
My goal wasn't time, my goal was to finish, to complete the 9.3, which I did in 1:37:30. I ran with a friend, who at mile 6 was ready to quit. I ran backwards encouraging her to continue and stayed with her until mile 9 when I told her, "I have to sprint to the finish (its the only way to go, and it was easy due to the fact it was down hill!). I will meet you there!"
I have to say, it was one of the greatest accomplishments in all my athletic endeavors. I have not run it since...until this year! I'm ready to run, ready to share the spirit of Utica with colleagues, friends and family, and ready to share "The Power of Protein"with Utica and 12,000 other runners from across the country.
The New York Beef Industry Council is the headquarters for "Team ZIP" for the 31st Annual Utica Boilermaker! It's no secret we are looking for 250 runners to lace up their running shoes, and proudly wear their Team ZIP jersey to demonstrate the "Power of Protein." I encourage you to check out our website http://www.nybeef.org/ for updates about the race, where to go, what to see, how to get to Utica and where you can hang up your running shoes before the big race!
I also encourage you to check out the Boilermaker website at http://www.boilermaker.com/. On the site you can see the race course, check out the elevation and SIGN UP! Early Bird sign up deadline is JUNE 11, 2008, final sign up deadline is JUNE 30th! You can sign up for the 15k, the 5k or the 5k walk and be part of Team ZIP! Do it today and let me know at email@example.com so that I can formally welcome you to the team and direct you to the final destination...the finish line!
And, lastly I encourage you to check out our local newspaper, http://www.uticaod.com/ there are two recent articles "Boilermaker could regain biggest 15K title" and "Boilermaker spices up lineup." There was also an article about the Boilermaker on http://www.coolrunning.com/ about last year's race, just type in "Boilermaker 15k road race."
Today is Tuesday, April 8th. On Sunday I ran 5.5 miles. It was a great run considering it was on a treadmill and watching Food Network! It may be warm enough for some Utican's to run outside, as for me, the mercury needs to inch up a little further to entice me outside!
Keep running or start now (it's not too late*), there are less than 14 weeks to go!
*click here for a 10-week novice 15K training schedule.