Manchester Road Race Goes Virtual During Pandemic

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For all the differences of 2020, there's one local tradition that's finding a way to keep moving forward. The Manchester Road Race is off and running, even if the course may look a bit different this year.

“Oh it's different in every way,” said Jack Leonard, a member of the Manchester Road Race executive board. “There will be no road race on Thanksgiving Day on Main Street.”

No crush of runners and no costumes, just business as usual in downtown Manchester. But rather than nothing at all, the 84th Manchester Road Race can be wherever you are. Runners across the world will log their times through the official race app and even race spectators don't have to miss a beat.

“My phone alerted me that Amby Burfoot, a nine time champion of the Manchester Road Race, was starting his race,” said Leonard. “I checked the phone to see where he would be running and saw that he was here in town so immediately came out to the course in order to cheer him around. 'Course I was the only person on Porter Street cheering him.”

Amby Burfoot is one of the lucky few to still be able to run the true 4.7 mile course.

“He wanted to be one of the very first people to run the virtual Manchester Road Race so he can keep his streak alive,” said race director Jim Balcome. “He's run this race for 57 years.”

Its a tradition for so many. Glastonbury native Donn Cabral can’t even remember the first time he ran the race. Running has since taken him to two Olympic Games. He' hasn't missed a race if he can help it, but this year, he'll be missing everything else.

“It's a chance where so many professional runners that I know to come to my home,” said Cabral. “You know we'll have the race and then we'll split wood in the back yard and have Thanksgiving dinner.”

In 2020 few will run the course on Main Street but wherever Manchester is for you this year, those 4.7 miles are tradition enough.

They’ll also continue the tradition of the annual Ray Crother’s Memorial Blood drive at Manchester High School on November 27. Information on how to sign up is available here.

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