The Manchester Road Race will go on this November despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organizers said Thursday they will hold the annual Thanksgiving Day race this year, but it will look a bit different.
The race will be limited to just 500 runners on the racecourse on Thanksgiving. Normally, thousands of people take part in the 4.784-mile run.
Anyone who wants to participate in the Manchester Road Race will need to register for a virtual race on the event's website. Registration opens on October 1 and the registration fee is $20.
Those who register can indicate that they would like to participate in the actual race on Thanksgiving Day. The road race committee will select 500 runners to take part in the actual race on November 26. The race will use a staggered "wave" starting system with 25 runners per heat that will go off at five-minute intervals, according to organizers. The order of finish will be determined by net times.
The 500 runners will be selected from each of the Manchester Road Race's men's and women's age group divisions, based on times posted by the applicants in the 2019 or 2018 races, according to organizers.
Those who aren't selected to run can still participate in the virtual race. Runners will download an app that will use GPS to allow them to run the exact distance of the course no matter where they choose to run. The app will measure their distance and let the runners know when they have completed the race. They will also be able to upload their time to race organizers. The virtual race must be completed between 8 a.m. on November 19 and 5 p.m. on November 25.
“Obviously, due to the Covid-19 health crisis, this year’s 84th annual Manchester Road Race will look and be much different from all of our past events,” said Dr. Tris Carta, President of the Manchester Road Race Committee. “But we sincerely believe that by utilizing this hybrid approach, we can safely keep the town’s Turkey Day tradition alive in a manner that is totally consistent with state public health mandates."
Completion of the race on the course or virtually through the app will qualify as an official finish and count towards longevity streaks, Carta said.
Race organizers are asking anyone who is not officially registered to run on Thanksgiving morning to stay away from the course.
“We are also respectfully reminding all of our volunteers and anyone who may be watching the race to wear facial coverings, stay six feet apart, and avoid gathering in large groups,” Carta said.