Yesterday, Debbie, the kids and I checked out the new exhibit, “Thanksgiving in Manchester: A History of the Manchester Road Race,” at the Manchester Community College Dehn Gallery on Main Street. We were downtown to run some errands, and it was a short walk to the gallery, which is within feet of the finish line.
According to the news release that tipped us off, “The exhibit was commissioned by the Manchester Road Race Committee and was designed by Manchester native Harrison ‘Whitey’ Jenkins, owner of ‘Jenkins Design.’ Artifacts related to the race have been loaned by the Manchester Historical Society and provided by other donors.”
The release says, “Among the artifacts that will be on display are medals and trophies won by Joe McCluskey, an Olympic bronze medalist from Manchester who won the race four times; the gym uniform worn by Julia Chase Brand when she toppled the gender barrier at the road race in 1961; and a racing singlet that belonged to Dr. Charlie Robbins, a two-time champion who ran here 56 times and often competed barefoot. The exhibit will also feature a video slide show of race photographs taken by retired Hartford Courant photographer John Long, who covered the road race for 35 years, and who has served as the event’s official photographer since 2006.”
We roamed around the gallery for some time, soaking in the glory of this great race. Manchester has been a Thanksgiving fixture for me. This year will be the 78th running, and my 25th time competing. Due to injury, I haven’t run a step since early June, so it is likely that I’ll jog, shuffle, or walk the 4.748 mile course. I’ve written many times about the race and its great history.
It was fitting that the only other person in the gallery with us was our Bolton neighbor, Dani Kennedy. She had just wrapped up a run, presumably on the course. Dani is part of the race committee, the track & field coach at Bolton High School, a fellow member of the Shenipsit Striders and Silk City Striders, race director of the Bolton Summer XC Series, and a champion for everything running related in our community.
I could have lingered all morning, and I may return before the exhibit is packed up on November 29th. Hopefully, this exhibit comes back in the future and becomes a tradition of its own as the race approaches 80 years old.