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The backyard party after the Boilermaker Road Race is a sight to be seen. The back parking lot of the F.X. Matt Brewing Company overflows with runners, volunteers, spectators and some who come in search of a free beer.
This is the case every second Sunday in July, which is when the Boilermaker is run.
And every second Sunday in July I am always asked this question: “How many people do you think are here?”
There is no way to know for sure. I’ve asked police officers who have experience in estimating crowd sizes what they think and they shake their heads.
I’ve taken a guess in past years and my guess was that the crowd numbers around 35,000. This year’s after party looked bigger than previous years. Maybe the biggest ever.
A few days after the race I asked Tim Reed, who is in charge of the Boilermaker, what he thought. He estimates the party number is closer to 40,000. Whether it be 35,000, 40,000 or more, that’s a lot of people.
One thing that’s for sure is this: The people at the party are shoulder to shoulder. There’s no room to spread out.
Many of those people wear T-shirts on which are printed messages. Be it the Boilermaker, Boonville-Oneida County Fair or Woodsmen’s, I make note of the philosophy and humor to be found on T-shirts.
Those notes are kept in a computer file. I added to the file after this year’s Boilermaker.
The T-shirt message I liked the best this year was this: “The Only Thing Greater Than Fear Is Hope.”
Although I’ve never watched it, I’m told the message of “The Only Thing Greater Than Fear Is Hope” is a line that comes from a television show called “The Hunger Games.” It must be a popular television show because I saw that saying on three different T-shirts at the Boilermaker after party.
On more than three T-shirts I saw this: “I Run For Beer.”
And on one T-shirt I saw this: “I Run Because I Really Like Beer.”
The male 40-something runner that I saw wearing the “I Run Because I Really Like Beer” shirt was holding a plastic cup of beer in both his hands. Who knows, he might have been holding one of those beers for someone else, but I’m betting not.
Another T-shirt message was this: “I Run Better Than The Government.”
I also saw T-shirts with numbers but no words. I got the message, though.
There was a shirt with “26.2” printed on the front in a circle. This means the wearer had run a marathon, which is 26.2 miles.
I saw “13.1” printed on the front of another shirt. This means the wearer had run a half marathon.
I also saw “15-K,” which means 15 kilometers and translates to 9.3 miles, the distance of the Boilermaker, on several shirts.
And on just one shirt I saw “0.0.” I take this to mean that the woman who was wearing the shirt is not a runner.
Finally, there was a T-shirt which seemed out of place in the middle of 35,000-40,000 people. The shirt stated in large letters: “I Used To Be a People Person.” Underneath that in small letters was this: “But People Ruined That For Me.”