The starter's pistol will fire on Sunday, July 9th at 8 a.m., signaling the start of Utica's Boilermaker Road Race. The race is currently in its 40th year. The iconic race features all the things you regularly see at a road race of this size: water stops, cheering fans and thousands of fellow runners.

You can also find the unexpected along the course -- some are 'official' parts of the race -- and some have been there year after year so that you expect to find them in their usual spots.

Here are five of our favorite surprises from the Boilermaker Road Race 15K:

  • The sign along Culver Avenue that says ".3 Mile Marker - 9 more to go!"  Look to your right as you make your way along the first mile, and sure enough, you'll see the sign reminding you that you still have a long way to go!
  • The amazing view as you crest the hill in Valley View. We know, you're tired from running all the way up that hill. Quick, take a look to your left and get a little boost looking out over the reservoir -- isn't it gorgeous?
  • The animals from the Utica Zoo as you exit Valley View Golf Course. Where else can you see a llama along the course of a 15K? While you're running by (it's downhill, too!) check out the new Utica Zoo sign; it's amazing.
  • Popsicles that hit the spot along the Parkway. Not long after you pass the Utica Zoo, you'll find folks handing out popsicles along the Parkway. By the time you reach them, you're more than halfway done with the race. A cold, sweet popsicle hits the spot.
  • A cool shower near the bottom of Champlin Avenue. After your climb up Burrstone Road, you're pretty hot and tired. Luckily, Champlin Avenue is a downhill and there's a little shower toward the bottom -- it's brief, but worth it for the quick cool down.

Those are our favorite 'unofficial' highlights on the 15K Boilermaker course. Which do you especially look forward to? Did we leave any off the list? Let us know.

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