This summer, why not pack up the car, load up the kids, get out the map, and spend a nice long weekend in . . . Utica? Stay with me here. Utica is geographically located in the center of New York State and within 500 miles of 17 of the top 50 U.S. markets. According to its Web site, the city “offers its residents and visitors small-city charm, abundant industry, affordable housing, ample recreational opportunities, and a diverse cultural and ethnic community.” It also offers two good reasons why all distance runners should make a pilgrimage to this college town in July: a race and a Hall of Fame.
Known as one of the largest and best 15K (9.3 miles) races in the country, the Boilermaker Road Race is an American classic. It was just a sleepy little run for 800 entrants until 1983 when none other than Bill Rodgers made the trip to the city known as the gateway to the Adirondacks. “Boston Billy” won that year, bringing credibility and national exposure, and the race hasn’t been the same since. Now, the Boilermaker attracts elite runners from all over the world, including Olympians and world-record holders, while annual participation swells to 10,000 runners (one-sixth the size of the whole city).
After the race - - that is, unless you’ve had too much of the local Saranac beer at the post-race party - - run, jog, walk, or hobble over to the National Distance Running Hall of Fame. Sure, that other Hall of Fame in nearby Cooperstown may get all the publicity, but this one is dedicated solely to the sport of distance running and to those who have made contributions to the sport. So, instead of bats and balls, you can see track spikes and singlets in the inductee showcase. You can view a tribute to one of the sport’s greatest coaches at the Bill Bowerman exhibit, and stand in awe at the inductee wall whose plaques include those of Ted Corbitt, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Fred Lebow, Frank Shorter, and none other than Bill Rodgers.
The Boilermaker and Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies take place during Hall of Fame weekend, the second weekend of July. Visit this link for more information on the two best reasons to visit Utica.
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