A Thanksgiving tradition that was disrupted last year is back. The Manchester Road Race, which became a virtual event in 2020, is once again in-person and excitement is starting to build.
This road race, which was first run in 1927, is one of the oldest Thanksgiving races in the country. People in Manchester are celebrating its return.
“The Road Race is back folks! Let’s hear about it,” said Manchester Mayor Jay Moran, addressing dozens of dignitaries and race sponsors during a kick-off luncheon Monday afternoon.
Race organizers were applauded for their efforts to bring back a tradition that needed to be modified last Thanksgiving because of the pandemic.
Normally run in a 4.748-mile circuit starting and ending on Main Street, the 2020 version was virtual. Runners submitted videos, running the same distance but on completely different courses. The overall winner was former Olympian and Glastonbury native, Donn Cabral, who says despite the victory, something was missing.
“Everything you have that makes the Manchester Road Race great. We didn’t really have with the virtual race,” Cabral said.
Although it had a virtual format, the race continued to produce real community impact, generating $40,000 in charitable donations for four non-profit organizations.
Among those who participated virtually was Patrick Mullarkey who ran it from Shanghai, China.
“My family was able to track on the app, but I also have a video call with my sister-in-law who was trying to film alongside me as she was biking and I was running,” said Mullarkey.
Mullarkey is an English teacher in China and says, he plans to run the race virtually this year once again.
He says he enjoyed the run, especially without Manchester’s signature, Highland Street hill.
“There’s a bit of a hill you can run up over this bridge (in Shanghai) but it’s nothing like the big hill with Safety Man up top,” said Mullarkey with a laugh.
While the virtual opportunity will continue this year, most runners are looking forward to running in person. So far, over 8,400 people are registered to participate in the 85th running of the race.
“The whole race is about traditions and we’re starting back again,” said race committee President, Tris Carta.
Registration is open until November 23rd with registration fees going largely to area charities.
Manchester Police are warning people that there will be many street closures. Main Street will be closed from Center Street to Charter Oak Street from 5:30 a.m. until around 1 p.m. The entire racecourse will be closed beginning at 9 a.m.