By Trey Redfield SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – In sports, there have been long droughts. We have seen the Cubs take 108 years to win a World Series, along with the Red Sox taking 86 years to accomplish the same feat. For some, droughts have lasted forever, like the Buffalo Bills never winning a Lombardi Trophy.
But in Utica, a drought ended on a course that last 15 kilometers.
Stephen Rathbun, a Syracuse native, won the 2021 Boilermaker Road Race with a time in 47 minutes and 31 seconds. He is the first American to win the race since 1991.
Rathbun may have had an advantage with no international athletes competing in this year’s race, thanks to COVID-19 restrictions. But he says there were still strong Central New York runners in the race.
“There’s really great runners in Central New York,” Rathbun said. “The guy that came in second, Sam [Morse], he’s a legend in the area. There were also really strong runners in the area, too.”
Rathbun being the first American in three decades is not the only feat he accomplished. He may live in Springfield, N.J. today, but Rathbun is the first runner with CNY ties to take home the tape since 1982.
Rathbun’s ties, though are triple knotted. He graduated from Syracuse University, where he founded the SU Running Club. Rathbun also went to Cicero-North Syracuse, 12 miles north of SU. He wants to use his victory to encourage people to start running in CNY.
“I hope that it can inspire kids in the area… to think about cross country and track and field.” Rathbun said. “I think what’s really special about this sport of running is how it can truly be a lifelong hobby, something to keep you healthy, and something to keep you engaged in a community that has always been so kind to me.”
Rathbun has ran the race for ten years. He read something in the paper that he wouldn’t think would be reality.
“You know, it’s funny,” Rathbun said. “They had an article that said, ‘It could be you this year.'”
Rathbun will be back next season for more, looking to improve his 15K time to 46 minutes in 2022.