© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Utica's Boilermaker Postponed To September

Boilermaker Logo
Facebook: Boilermaker Road Race
The Boilermaker originally planned for July 12 has been postponed to September 13.

Tennis is out. So are basketball, baseball and just about all other team activities. While many people are picking up running to keep busy amid the coronavirus pandemic, you’ll have to wait to hit the pavement competitively. Like many other major races, the 43rd annual Boilermaker in Utica, New York has been postponed.

The 15k road race originally set for July 12 is being pushed to September 13 for the first time in its history. Making the announcement Monday morning, race President Mark Donovan says organizers are suspending the Boilermaker and its smaller 5k in anticipation of continued social distancing guidelines this summer.

“We hung in there as long as we could. But for the first time since our inception in 1978, the Boilermaker will not be held on its traditional second Sunday in July," says Donovan. "This very difficult decision was made in concert with our medical support team, the New York state Department of Health, and most importantly, with the safety and wellbeing of our runners, our volunteers, our staff, and our community in mind.”

Donovan says up to 19,000 people run the course each year, and prior to the pandemic, over 11,600 runners from around the globe had registered for the races — one of the most important events for the Utica area economy.

Registrants now have to decide whether they want to run in September, defer until 2021, or drop out entirely and receive a refund (Registrants may donate that refund to the race if they like.). Donovan says new registrations are suspended until May 1, to allow those with their bibs time to decide what to do.  

“Current registrants must visit boilermaker.com or go directly to their RunSignUp account and officially make their choice by noon on Thursday, April 30, of 2020," he explains. 

Donovan admits organizers are bracing for fewer runners and smaller crowds. Under normal circumstances, “Boilermaker Weekend” stands pretty much unchallenged in the July heat, drawing tens of thousands of spectators to the Mohawk Valley. But with spring races like the Adirondack Park’s Old Forge Marathon and the Boston Marathon also on hold until September (The Old Forge Marathon is currently set for September 11-12, and the Boston Marathon is planned for September 14), the tradition faces new competition. 

"We determined that it was more important for us to be good neighbors to our local friends, than worry about our losing some runners to a race like the Boston Marathon," Donovan notes. 

Donovan says organizers are still deciding the fate of some of the weekend’s other competitions, such as the wheelchair race, kids’ run, and youth Olympics. Should the pandemic continue into September, he says the event will be canceled altogether – but for now, organizers feel postponement is the best plan.

"We would not be true to our tagline 'Challenging people to run the 15k because it's supposed to be hard' if we just folded up our tent and went home for the year," says Donovan. "We felt that we needed to pursue the path of postonement. [The decision] was not only a part of our makeup, but one that we owed to Boilermaker Nation." 

Jesse King is the host of WAMC's national program on women's issues, "51%," and the station's bureau chief in the Hudson Valley. She has also produced episodes of the WAMC podcast "A New York Minute In History."
Related Content