This year’s Boilermaker marks the return of elite,  professional runners for the first time in three years.

What is an “Elite” runner?

Elite athletes are generally recruited by the Boilermaker’s elite runner committee, headed by Dick Mattia.

Their lodging and travel is often subsidized, they usually have professional representation and they don’t go through the same registration process as the rest of the field.

18 female runners and 25 males runners were invited to take part in this year's race.

This year's elite runners include Kenyans Edwin Kimutai and Charles Wanjiku on the men's side and American Susanna Sullivan and Rosemary Wanjiru of Kenya and Biruktayit Degefa of Ethiopia on the women’s side.

2022 also mark the first time in three years that the Professional Road Racing Organization Circuit, a series of non-marathon road racing events, will be able to hold a championship race.

A total of seven registered will be eligible for the PRRO's $10,000 Super Bonus.

That includes last year's Boilermaker winners, Syracuse native Stephen Rathbun and New Hartford native Savannah Boucher.

NANCY L. FORD PHOTOGRAPHY
NANCY L. FORD PHOTOGRAPHY
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If the Boilermaker champion comes from outside the group of seven athletes who have won a qualifying race, they will take home $2500 as the circuit champion in addition to the prize money being offered by the Boilermaker

“We’re hoping to see a full crowd line the streets of Utica to share in the excitement of the race’s return to July,” said Race Director Jim Stasaitis. “The prize money and the return of the professional field is going to make this a memorable race and possibly one for the ages."

WIBX's live coverage of the Boilermaker will begin Sunday morning at 7:30.

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The 2021 Utica Boilermaker Road Race will go down in the history books as one of the most unique, with an all-vaccinated field running the 5K and 15K on October 10th, without elite runners, and with thousands of regular participants sitting this one out because of COVID. The excitement this year was special and exclusive and there was no shortage of it, as seen through the lens of award winning photo-journalist Nancy L. Ford of Utica. Here are 61 awesome photos featuring some of the best moments from this year's race.