The disappearing ‘Utica’ name is finally getting attention from places other than this blog -- this time from the O-D. In the front-page story published in print today, “Road race marketing limiting Utica mention” (which seems to have mysteriously disappeared from the OD's website), the OD notes that ‘Utica’ will be removed from the 2009 Boilermaker logo, and also seems to be lacking from the race’s website. Supposedly the organizers want a more “regional” identity. Former Mayor Julian believes that this would be the loss of an area marketing tool. Mayor Roefaro, however, does not have a problem with it. . . Could Roefaro be right?
The City of Utica is so closely associated with the Boilermaker Road Race that its name may not have to be attached. The Boilermaker will still be Utica’s ‘signature event.’ The thousands of runners converging on Utica from all over the country and beyond is probably all the “marketing” that is needed. The Running of the Bulls = Pamplona, Spain. Il Palio = Siena, Italy. The Boilermaker = Utica. The name is there, whether it’s legible or not.
The race organizers have arranged a spectacular, well-run event. But they’ve done something more: They’ve grown a sense of community pride in a place where people have lost much to be proud of. The Boilermaker’s close association with the ‘Utica’ name over these many years has given Uticans a sense of ownership in the event. This is really THEIR race … and like proud homeowners, THEY want it to shine. . . And they make it so. . . by the thousands … with water ... funny hats … ethnic costumes and dancing ... music ... and more. Many of these people normally would care less about running, or who wins ... but they cheer everyone on, spurring them to do their personal best. Given statistics, many probably don't have two nickels to rub together . . . but they give what they have and they give their all . . . It is the participation of the throng lining the route that sets the Boilermaker apart from other races. Watch other major road races on TV, and you will see how dead the others are in comparison. The ‘pride of ownership’ -- Utica's pride -- makes the difference.
No, Utica does not need to have its name attached to ‘Boilermaker’ as a marketing tool . . . But maybe the reverse is true: The Boilermaker needs to keep ‘Utica’ attached to its name. Without 'Utica,' the Boilermaker is just another 15k race.