2017 Manchester Road Race

The weather for today’s 81st running of the Manchester Road Race was spectacular. It was cold at the start, but he brilliant sunshine warmed things up just enough to make it a great Thanksgiving Day on the roads of Manchester. This was my 28th MRR and my 23rd in a row.

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A few weeks back, Fox 61 News interviewed me as part of  a series that they did on longtime MRR runners. The premise was to share your favorite part of the course and talk about your MRR experiences. Naturally, the hill, near the top, is my favorite part of the course. It’s closest to my house in Bolton a few miles up the road and a pivotal point in every race.

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I really do love this race. Today, I shadowed my son, Shepard. It was only the third time that I haven’t “raced” Manchester. It was tough to hold back because I entered a new age group (45-49) this year, and my previous times would have had me on the podium (likely 2nd) for that division.

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That’s OK, the race has become a family affair for me. I’ll get a chance to run it again in the future. I’ve been doing a lot of cyclocross, but counting today, I’ve only run six times in the past month for a total of 25 miles. I would have had to race on guts today, which isn’t a problem for me, but it was smarter to keep an eye on Shep and save my legs for tomorrow’s (Black Friday) March Farm Cyclo Madness.

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Shep runs better on his own, so I started with him, but hung five seconds behind him the whole time, monitoring his progress and make sure he didn’t get tripped in the crowd of 12,000+ runners. I didn’t want to influence his race for better or worse. In the past, the presence of Debbie and I has resulted in meltdowns, especially when the effort got hard. Today, he ran a smart race, all on his own, with good pacing, and a strong finish. He had an Under 38 minutes seed card, and his goal was to break 35 minutes. He has improved every year and this year was no exception. He smashed his personal best, running 32:52 (gun time) for 8th in the 13 and under age group. He was very happy. He has two more years in this age group, so there is opportunity for improvement.

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He is into the stats, but I reminded him that the important thing is to continue to love to run. Right now, he is having a blast. I’ve seen a lot of kids burn out, but given our family passion for endurance sports, that is unlikely, especially if we balance the running with cycling, triathlon, hiking, and other fun activities. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t curious how much he and our daughter can improve.

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Debbie and Dahlia ran together and achieved their goal of breaking one hour for the event. They finished in 57:56. Dahlia’s legs hurt. Debbie taught her how to use a mantra, “strong and steady, strong and steady,” to get through the 4.748 mile course. I’ve heard that mantra a lot this year, and especially at the Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run and Cascade Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run.

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Shep’s legs are going to hurt too, so he has to relax before tomorrow’s cyclocross race. I think mine will be OK. I ran in Central Park in Manhattan on Tuesday, to soften them up a bit before today’s race. Early this morning, I went for a road bike ride and scouted the course in reverse. It was fun to see all the volunteers setting up the course and to see all the police involved with the pre-race security measures.

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We saw lots of friends, which isn’t hard to do in Manchester, and had a blast. Deb’s mother, Barbara Schieffer, is a superfan. She joined us to watch our bags and cheer us on. The Silk City Striders and Shenipsit Striders were out in force. I heard Shepard get some cheers from spectators and that motivated me too. It’s too soon to tell if I’ll run hard in 2018. I have to keep my streak going, and if I’m serious about running fast again, I’ll have to run more and ride less.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Race Results

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Dodge Pond at Camp Kirkham #newhampshire

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