RRW: Utica Boilermaker 15-K Postponed Until September

By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2020 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

(13-Apr) — The 43rd edition of the Utica Boilermaker 15-K has been postponed from July 12, to September 13, due to the COVID19 pandemic, organizers announced today.  The iconic road race in Utica, N.Y., held in early July every year since 1978, is the first major July road race to announce a postponement or cancellation for 2020 due to the pandemic.

“We hung in there for as long as we could,” explained Boilermaker Road Race president Mark Donovan on a video conference with reporters today.  He continued: “We’re formally announcing that we are postponing this event and scheduled it for the second Sunday in September, September 13th.”

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Donovan said that his organizing committee had been following the path of the pandemic closely.  As each day went by, they felt more and more that hosting the event on the second Sunday in July, their usual date, was untenable.  New York has been the hardest-hit state in the U.S. with 189,000 confirmed cases and over 9300 deaths.

“Once we figured that out internally we knew July was a deep long-shot and probably not a smart thing to do,” Donovan admitted.

The new date puts the Boilermaker on the same weekend as the rescheduled Boston Marathon and, according to the Race Results Weekly proprietary running events calendar, 35 other high-level running events.  However, Donovan said that not stepping on the toes of other Upstate New York local events was more important than fitting in with the global running calendar.

“Ultimately, on the topic of the date we thought it was more important to be good neighbors to our friends than losing runners to other events like the Boston Marathon,” Donovan said.

The event –which in 2019 had 11,195 finishers in the main 15 km race plus another 4,340 in the companion 5 km– will not recruit an international elite field this year, although there will still be a prize money purse.  Donovan said that all components of the event were being evaluated.

“We will not be having an invited, elite athlete field this year,” Donovan said.  He added: “Yes, we will have a prize purse.  At the end of the day, we’re gong to simplify (the event).”

Runners who have already registered for the race have been given four choices on how to proceed with their entries, and need to respond through the event’s website (boilermaker.com) by the end of April:

. Run on September 13 (no action required)
. Get a refund
. Rollover their entry to 2021
. Donate their entry fee to the race to help cover expenses already incurred

Donovan cautioned reporters that the trajectory of the COVID19 pandemic was constantly changing and that holding the race in September might not be possible, either.  Still, he said, his team would be ready on that date if public health and other government officials allowed the race to proceed safely.

“Whether we like it or not, we remain at the mercy of this pandemic,” he said.