Ellington’s Willi Frederich will be running his 50th Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving, a milestone he thought he might not reach after participating a year ago.
“It was hell. It was cold. I was cold all over the place you know,” Frederich said.
It was only 12 degrees when last year’s race began and the weather was only one obstacle Frederich faced.
Although being treated for bone cancer, Frederich was determined. His family convinced him to participate using a modified race bike.
“With him it was just a matter of.getting him convinced that doing it with the race bike was still doing the race,” explained his daughter Julie Resnik.
Surrounded by family, Frederich was pushed around the nearly five mile course, including the course’s signature one-mile hill.
“Going up the hill they were pushing...that was the closest to me not wanting to do the race,” Frederich said.
When the hill crested, however, Frederich did something few expected.
“He even got out of the bike and walked some of the downhill. Because he wanted to do it on his own terms,” Resnik said.
“I only walked a little bit last year, I was mostly sitting on a bike,” Frederich added.
This year, Frederich’s family will again be by his side, helping this 85-year old athlete achieve his dream of completing 50 Manchester Road races…something they weren’t sure would happen.
“We were concerned it was going to be his last race and that he wouldn’t make it and he’s surprisingly proved us wrong once again,” Resnik said with a laugh.
Frederich said this time there will be no bike and has set a goal of 20-minute miles.
“Maybe we can jog a little bit here and there. Gotta job at least to cross the finish line,” he said.