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Home » PEOPLE AND PLACES » CONNECTICUT » Thanksgiving With 35,000 of Your Closest Friends and Neighbors
The 2009 Manchester Road Race     BY: Hill Photo
Thanksgiving With 35,000 of Your Closest Friends and Neighbors

The Manchester Road Race

By Sam L. Rothman | November 22, 2010

Every Thanksgiving morning thousands of people gather for the Manchester Road Race, one of the oldest, largest and best-known road races in New England.

A Sight to Behold
BY & COPYRIGHT: Hill Photo

Question.   How would you like to spend Thanksgiving morning?

(A) Watching the turkey roast;

(B) Cleaning the bathroom;

(C) Waiting for the in-laws; or

(D) Attending a 4.8 mile long block party with 35,000 friends and neighbors?

If you picked (D), it’s not too late for you to join the 15,000 runners and 20,000+ spectators expected to descend on Manchester, Connecticut this Thanksgiving morning. It is also a huge party complete with costumes, music, food, joggers, walkers and some of the nation’s fastest runners.

Since 1927 the best in the world have come to race Manchester. In recent decades they have been joined by thousands of walkers, joggers and party-goers in one of the region’s most popular holiday traditions.

The race will begin in waves starting at 10AM sharp. First will be the elite runners, those who have qualified for a coveted “under 30 minutes card.” Next runners who have proven they can go the 4.748 mile distance in under 35 minutes, then 40 minutes, next the joggers and the finally thousands of walkers.

While the elite runners are expected to power down Main Street in somewhere around 22 minutes (the course record for men is 21:19 and 23:56 for women), the average finisher will take about 50 minutes to traverse the course which includes a long steep hill in mile two. Costumes are welcomed and those who arrive early to get the best sidewalk spots can expect to see a hilarious parade of oddly attired runners, joggers and smiling walkers.

Some Elite Runners
BY & COPYRIGHT: Hill Photo

In addition to the costumes, music, food and fun spectators will see some of the nation’s fastest road racers. Manchester’s list of past champions and challengers is a “who’s who” of American running legends. Recently the nation watched Shalane Flanagan finish second in the New York Marathon. In 2005 she ran and won in Manchester. Connecticut native Bill Rogers is a frequent participant as is 1984 Olympic champion Joan Benoit Samuelson.

Runners come to Manchester from around the world. Last year’s winners included Haron Lagat a Kenyan living in Texas and Alemtsehay Misganaw an Ethiopian living in New York.

Many locals have been champions as well. The late Ray Crouthers, for whom last year’s race was dedicated, was a life-long area resident who won in 1965. So was the first woman runner, then 19 year-old Julia Chase of Groton in 1961. Amby Burfoot, also of Groton, is entered in his 48th consecutive Manchester.

The Finish Line
BY & COPYRIGHT: Hill Photo

The long-time editor and writer for Runner’s World Magazine is three races shy of the record of 50 held by the late Charley Robbins. Burfoot won the race eight times in the 1960s and 1970s.

While elite runners will be looking to qualify for prize money, most of those who come to Manchester will be helping to raise money for charity. The Manchester Road Race raises tens of thousands of dollars for a long list of local and national charities.   Last year $119,900 was donated to groups like the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the ECHN Community Health Care Association. Over two-dozen charities, large and small, benefit annually.

Participants are also asked to donate a pair of old or unwanted running shoes and to return on Friday morning to donate blood. Since 1990 over 200 donors have come forward each year making the Manchester Road Race one of the state’s most successful blood drives.

So how do you want to spend Thanksgiving morning?

For information about the race, including entry fees, viewing locations, parking and transportation visit the Manchester Road Race website.

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