UTICA — Over 400 people signed up for the Boilermaker Road Race in the last week of registration.
It was a pleasant development for Boilermaker President Mark Donovan.
Utica’s premier summer sporting event returns to the second Sunday in July this year after a smaller, modified version last October and no standard 9.3-mile race in 2020 due to pandemic challenges and concerns. COVID-19.
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This Sunday’s popular Boilermaker’s 45th edition – with the 15k, 5k and wheelchair races – is expected to send more than 10,000 people touring Utica before ending outside the gates of the FX Matt Brewery on Court Street. The 5K kicks off the festivities at 7:15 a.m. with wheelchair races (7:45 a.m.) and 15K (8 a.m.). The post-race party follows and is open to all.
“We knew we wanted to get over 10,000 (people entered),” Donovan said, noting that 12,000 people entered in total would be considered “a big year” given the circumstances and numbers associated with other races. “It’s a good comfortable level for us. … This year it’s all about getting out of the rust by setting up the Boilermaker on the scale we’re looking to do.
This year, 7,618 people are entered in the 15K, which had a cap of 14,500. There are also 38 participants in wheelchairs, making it one of the largest Boilermaker fields in this division. Nearly 200 people are registered for the “home edition”, which allows participants to run a 15K or 5K between July 1 and July 10. In a twist, most of the home attendees are from the Utica area, Donovan said. There are 2,780 people ready for the 5K.
Add to that 250 people for Saturday’s Boilermakers Walk and 930 participants in the Children’s Run and there are nearly 12,000 registered for all events.
Registration for this year’s 15km race opened in March and closed at 11:59 p.m. Monday. Although race caps have not been reached, the number of people registering for Boilermaker events this weekend rebounds from the virtual edition of 2020 and last fall’s event, which each had less than 7,000 subscribers. There were 20,402 people in total registered in 2019.
“Most of the industry runs are between 50% and 75% as of 2019,” Donovan said.
So far, they have done the work necessary to hold the expo event on Friday and Saturday at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica. There is also a Youth Olympic event on Thursday morning at TR Proctor Park.
Officials at Donovan and Boilermaker are hoping for good weather for Sunday morning’s race, which would help bring more spectators to the course.
“Our message: Get out there. You’re going to see some pretty cool racing,” Donovan said. “Come show what the Utica community has shown for 45 years.”
He hopes the number of registrations will increase in the future, although he notes that COVID-19 remains a factor.
“I think (the enrollment) will continue to climb,” Donovan said. “We will just have to set our caps accordingly. We will look at the industry and see what happens in the fall.