A Belle Watling road trip
By Bill Donnelly
One of the best things about running is all the new friends you make, and the adventures you can have with them. I am a member of the Belle Watling AC, one of the oldest running clubs in
. Due to the many characters in this running club, we tend to have had many wonderful adventures over the years. Buffalo
The road trips are often the best. We find a race we want to do that is far enough away we must spend a night or two in a motel. Look out world! Such a road trip took place this past July 10th when we traveled to
to run in the 27th running of the Boilermaker. Utica, NY
A little background on the Boilermaker might be in order. First run in 1978, this 15K race starts at a factory that used to make boilers, and winds up and down and through
and finishes at the Saranac Brewery (originally the Utica Club Brewery). The first race had a few hundred runners, but now it gets in excess of 10,000, and most are running for the free beer one gets at the finish. Utica
The Belle Watlings, some who have done almost all 27 Boilermakers, met at ten the morning of July
10, a Saturday. Ten of us caravanned straight towards , stopping for a picnic lunch. Once we checked in, it was on to the expo to get our numbers and meet with old friends from past races. Utica
Now it was time to start hydrating. It was on to the old watering hole, McGill’s, where we loaded up on barley-malt beverages, the hydrating drink of choice for the Watlings. Then it was on to Grimaldi’s, for carbo-loading and much more hydrating. This is where the adventure really gets fun, as we were seeing many old friends, but making so many new ones.
We were having one of our typical dinners with Richard Sullivan, the Founder, at the head of the table, presiding over the eleven other diners. His brother Ted entertained with a welcoming speech and the
cheer. Jack O’Sullivan and Sandy Bueme made sure the whole table got liquid refreshment, while everyone enjoyed the great food. Bennett High School
Then, just as we were about to leave, The group at the table next to us let us know in no uncertain terms just how much they enjoyed sharing the evening with us. There was talk of the next days race, finger-pointing as to who was looking good, and we even got to the point where we came close to kissing each other on the cheeks. Fortunately it didn’t go there, but the father of their clan was never at a loss for words in describing the time we shared. He may have been from the old country, for I did not understand all the words he used.
Before we parted ways in the parking lot, we found our new friends were short of money, and had but $5 extra to leave as a tip on a $300 bill. We could not let them leave looking like such cheapskates, so we chipped in $30 so they would feel better, and their waitress would be able to pay her rent. Then it was back to the motel, for the race was starting at , so to bed we made haste.
The morning of the race was uneventful, other than a woman we spotted who was protesting the way President Bush had given up running for mountain biking. Crazy, but that seemed to be her cause, and she showed her contempt for Bush by moving and destroying Police barricades set up to protect the runners. This proved to be our good fortune, as we were able to go through a newly destroyed barricade and find excellent parking.
That Sunday was hot and sunny, as it usually is in
in July, but everyone had a good race. We hung around at the party hoping to see our new friends, but we missed them in the crowd. We did partake of a Saranac brew or two, got tingles as the F16 fighter jets flew overhead, danced to the live music, and just had a most wonderful time. Utica
Finally it was time to pack up and head home. We all had good races and memories to carry with us. Most of all we had new friends we hope to see again in
next year. Utica