By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer
Last Sunday saw the twenty-first running of the Utica Boilermaker 15K road race. I had run the Boilermaker several times in the past, with a personal best time of 65:39, but I had never enjoyed the race from a spectator's vintage. This year, I decided to watch the race and cheer on my running friends and family.
The weather and the Boilermaker have enjoyed a long kinship. Although the race was named for the Utica Boilers, the Boilermaker often described the Utica weather on the second Sunday of July. This year's cool and dry weather was a runner's delight.
In past years, the Boilermaker organizers limited the field to the first 5,000 runners. A redesigned starting area and color-seeded race numbers allowed the expansion of last year's twentieth anniversary field to the largest 15K road race in the country. This year's 8,629 registrations and 7,340 finishers maintained that designation.
Long before the race became the largest 15K in the country, the Utica spectators had been the largest and loudest cheering crowd of any race. On this day each year, Uticans and visitors alike line the race course with music, banners, sponges, ice cubes and orange slices, providing every runner with 15 kilometers of encouragement and cheer. This year's crowd was no different, if my laryngitis was any indication.
Khalid Khannouchi won the men's race in 42 minutes 57 seconds. To put his performance in perspective, imagine running one mile in 4 minutes 37 seconds, maintain that pace for 8 more miles, then sprint the last third of a mile. Lornah Kiplagat won the women's race 50:06, averaging just over 5:20 per mile.
Central New York women ran very well and claimed many age group awards. Christine Sisting led the locals in 54:24, followed by Jill Mastroianni 57:15, Deana Sikora 58:32, Marybeth Romagnoli 59:03, Tanya Heard 59:18, Colleen Peterson 1:00:50, Sarah Falso 1:02:44, Melissa Pearce 1:03:00, Susan Sivers 1:03:12, Kelly Szczygiel 1:03:26, Liz Besio 1:03:53, Paula Huntsman 1:03:56, Nicole Moser 1:04:04, Patti Ford 1:04:36, Shirley Woodford 1:04:39, Lorrie Marnell 1:04:56, Teal Remington 1:04:58, Laura Campione 1:06:20, Michele Usiatynski 1:06:40, Karen Davies 1:07:19, Karen Hannum 1:07:21, Coreen Steinbach 1:07:34, Sheila Burth 1:07:35, Jacquelyn Miron 1:07:44, Deirdre Colgan 1:07:47, Schatzi Hall 1:07:51, Abigail Watson 1:07:57, Barbara Hardy 1:08:01, Lindsay McClintock 1:08:02, Susan Gerber 1:08:14, Shellee Copley 1:08:22, Sara McClintock 1:08:31, Toni McFadden 1:08:33, Amy Spin 1:08:42, Debra Sniffen 1:08:48, and Julie Hilson 1:08:52.
The surprise of the day was the outstanding performance of local young men in the race. While runners mature physiologically and achieve performance peaks in their late twenties or early thirties, this year's Boilermaker saw an invasion by local scholastic and collegiate runners. Fourteen of the top 20 New York State finishers were under 24 years old, and 34 out of the top 60 NYS runners were under 25 years old. This phenomenon is a sure sign that running in Central New York is strong and healthy.
Former Syracuse University cross country captain Chris Getman repeated as the top local finisher in 48:29, followed by Marcus Gage 48:45, Travis Kuhl 49:03, Kyle Fenton 50:21, Nate Getman 50:26, Jeremy Block 50:30, Matthew Annabel 50:41, Adam Crandall 50:43, Pat Leone 50:51, Daniel Dominie 51:17, Shad Miller 51:23, Jonathan Wenger 51:40, Thomas Smith 51:50, Carl Planty 52:01, Jeremy Drowne 52:16, Tom Benoit 52:18, Joseph Mondo 52:25, Roger Donaghy 52:31, Seth Anabel 52:48, Scott Humphrey 52:55, Bob Carroll 52:58, Timothy Scarpinato 53:00, Lynn Petzoldt 53:02, Tom Carter 53:06, Kevin Getman 53:16, Vincent DeRocco 53:17, Marty DiBattista 53:26, Ronald Hulslander 53:28, Bob Brenner 53:31, Eric Goulet 53:33, Rick Streeter (lane 1) 53:34, and Matthew Bello 53:35.
The Getman brothers, Chris 48:29, Nate 50:26 and Kevin 53:16, were certainly the fastest family in Utica last weekend. My family did not fare as well in my absence from the race, but they enjoyed a pleasant run and one personal record.
Khalid Khannouchi expects to return to Central New York in August to spend a day at a local running camp, training and inspiring high school runners who share his love of running and racing.
As the runners departed and thousands of volunteers cleaned the roads and the fields, another chapter of the Utica Boilermaker was completed and committed to history. The story of the Boilermaker, along with that of runners and races across our land, will be preserved in the National Distance Running Hall of Fame in historic downtown Utica, expected to open to the public in the next few months.
Kamal Jabbour promises to return to Utica next year to run the 22nd Boilermaker. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. He maintains The Syracuse Running Page and receives email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Complete results are posted at the Boilermaker's web site.