Of the original 800 or so that ran in the original boilermaker road race, there are only a handful left that can say they've run it every single time. Rich Watkajtys is one of the lucky ones. And thirty-five years ago he picked up running for the first time. "That was the first year I started running, my wife had given me Jim Finks book of running, read that and started to run. Ran into one of my buddies who said jeez there's a great race coming up in July and he said it ends at the brewery and instead of water stops there's going to be beer stops and I said I think I can do that."
Over the years rich says he kept coming back because he's from this area and when he reached twenty-five the Boilermake staff did something special for the perennial runners. "He gave us low numbers, low seeding numbers, I think there were about 28 guys and women that had run every one at the time. So my number was like 27 and I'm walking around the start line and people are going who the hell is this guy, ya know, how fast is he? So we lined up with the Kenyans and then got trampled and that was the end of it."
This will be Rich's 35th year of running and he credits his late start to a lack of injuries over the years. "You know I've been very lucky pretty injury free and you know you could always come down with a cold, flu, not feel well but it always seems to work out well so I've been very lucky, very fortunate in that way."
With 34 under his belt the question remains how many does Rich plan on running. "My initial goal at 20 years was to do 50, then I thought to myself well if I do make 50 what do I do then quit? Nah I'll do 51 probably ya know and then try for 55 who knows."