But Bill Rodgers wasn't the only reason the race became the worldwide event it is today. Some believe it was the race's willingness to adapt and constantly change. And many say the people are the reason for the success. Pitarresi adds, "People came out, you know, like in the Parkway hosing down runners and providing water. People came out and cheered on the runners and it got a reputation as being very runner friendly race." Reed says, "It's the biggest thing that happens to this area of pride and it makes the people... we call it Christmas in July."
"It lets the Mohawk valley put its best foot forward." The great race known as the boilermaker began in 1978 but only saw fewer than 800 finish the race. And only a few years later it became a national known event and it took the biggest player in running to help the Mohawk Valley's event. Utica Observer-Dispatch Reporter John Pitarresi says, "Bill Rodgers was the biggest thing in road racing, four Boston Marathon championships, four New York City Marathon championships, he never won an Olympic medal but he was the guy." Founder Earle Reed says, "Well I think Bill Rodgers winning the race for two reasons. Number one Bill was noted and known by the running community, Bill was also popular with non-runners, in other words you brought in a person that wasn't known strictly by the running population."