2019 Manchester Road Race

“This is Thanksgiving in Manchester!”

That’s the same refrain that I’ve heard Race Director Jim Balcome proclaim 30 times since 1985 when I ran my first Manchester Road Race at the age of 13. This was the 83rd edition and his 43rd as RD. This year was also my 25th in a row since I returned to the race in 1995 after a four year layoff.



Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and the MRR has played an integral part in making that so. I love milestones and 30 years of doing anything is a substantial one. I’m proud of my consistency and the fact that I’m literally and figuratively running strong at 47 years-old. I’m not unique in having a long streak. Amby Burfoot did his 57th MRR today. Todd Brown did his 43rd. Janit Romayko has done more than 50, and so have many others.



Even more special is that Shepard did his 7th and Dahlia did her 4th. Who knows if the kids will maintain a streak, but the fact that we do this event as a family makes the day even better. Debbie doesn’t keep track of records like this, but she has probably done it close to 20 times.


I haven’t run fast in several years as I’ve been shadowing Shepard in recent MRR’s. This year he was ready to run on his own and push himself. I got the green light to give it my all. Debbie ran with Dahlia. Both kids smashed their personal bests. Shepard really wanted to win the 13 and under age group as he was 3rd last year. He figured that breaking 31 minutes would put him in range of the AG win. He did 30:13, exceeding his own expectations, but three boys went faster and he ended up 4th, the harshest position to finish in when the awards go three deep.



He took it fine, which was impressive to witness. For a moment he was bummed out, but then I saw that fire that burns inside of him was stoked even more. He is a goal setter, and has amazing self-motivation. I know where he gets that from. The balance and understanding comes from his Mom, so I would say that the blend of character that he exhibits is a winning combination. He was very happy with his performance and as long as he can stay positive and keep progressing, he his wonderful endurance sports career will continue to develop. The most important thing is that he continues to have fun.


Dahlia is our little tiger. She knocked 12 minutes off of last year’s time and pushed hard to achieve that result. Debbie says she ran the entire 4.748 mile distance which is remarkable since she occasionally stops (in protest) during races and says she can’t take another step. Today she took quite a few steps (she has small legs!), and in a field of 12,000 or so runners, it was wise that she kept moving.


Unlike last year’s frigid temperature, this year was much more seasonable. It was around 42 degrees Fahrenheit at the 10:00 A.M. start but it was windy and raw. The breeze was a stiff one and hit me hard in the face as a head/cross-wind around the 4-mile mark. My worst suffering came between miles 3.5 and 4.5. This has always been my toughest section and this year, I was just “meh” on that section of the course. I had a fast first mile, ran the hill fairly well, and then started to lose ground on the group in front of me as we descended Porter Street. Brett Stoeffler was up ahead and he was a good gauge. I kept him in view for a long time. He was only 10 seconds up, but I failed to close the gap and eventually his lead was extended as he held his pace and I slowed a bit.


I was stuck without anyone to draft off of and my cadence slowed in the last part of the race. After making the turn on to Main Street, I was able to rally a little and on the last little rise I pushed myself to hit my highest heart rate of the race. I could see the clock ticking up. For a moment I thought I could break 28 minutes which was my goal. However, I’ve run the race enough times and knowing what kind of kick was left in my legs, the mental math told me that it wasn’t going to work out. I let out a little groan and pressed on. It was going to be close.


Alas, I crossed the line with a net time of 28:01. Two ticks fewer and my time would have looked 10 times faster. Regardless, the time was good enough for 3rd in the 45-49 age group which was my second goal. I wanted to crack the top three. This was my first age group podium in 30 years at the MRR. I was 4th in 1989 and 2016, and 5th in 2013, so I know how Shepard is feeling having just missed out in the past.


We saw so many friends and that is another reason why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and probably one of my favorite days of the year. I can’t list them all. There were so many fist bumps, high fives, and hugs. Willi Friedrich, our longtime Shenipsit Striders club-mate, did his 50th MRR. He had a whole crew with him to honor the occasion.


My mother-in-law Barbara came to watch and she was a good sport looking after our backpack full of warm clothes and gear. My parents Lynn and Stan were at the start/finish and they got to see Shepard and me cross the line.


Once again, HORST Engineering sponsored Veteran’s Row. It’s been awesome to be associated with the event on a deeper level and to contribute to the success. The race helps out so many causes. Several HORST colleagues ran the race and I’m sure we will have a lot to talk about next week when we return to work. Last week, I attended the annual Press Conference and last night, Debbie, the kids and I were at the Spaghetti Dinner. The kids got to meet many of the elite runners and collected a bunch of autographs including last year’s winner (and course record holder) Edward Cheserek (who finished 2nd today), and Edna Kiplagat who won today. Edna is an amazing runner and one of the best of all-time. She is a two time marathon world champion and has wins at the Boston, New York, and London marathons on her palmares. She is also an Olympian.

Her Wikipedia profile includes this wonderful info:

Kiplagat is a police woman in Iten, Kenya. “I am one of the role models in my town and country,” says Kiplagat. “I have mentored girls in school and I have empowered women to form community associations. I also support less fortunate kids to pay their school fees.” [19]

Kiplagat and her husband have five children – two of her own, two adopted from her sister who died of breast cancer in 2003, and one adopted from a neighbor who died in childbirth in 2013. Her children Wendy, 9, and Carlos, 13, were at the finish line and award ceremony for her victory in the 121st annual Boston Marathon.[23]

She started the Edna Kiplagat Foundation to raise awareness of breast cancer.[24] Kiplagat also volunteers to create awareness for garbage management toward keeping a clean environment.[19]

That’s awesome.

Manchester Road Race 2019 Veterans' Row graphic

My legs will be wrecked from this effort. The asphalt and downhill pounding always do a number on my quads. I just don’t do enough running to condition my legs to take a beating like this. It’s back to bike racing this weekend with the Secret Squirrel Cyclocross and then the Bishop’s Orchard Cyclocross. I’m excited about my fitness in 2019, and am only feeling residual back pain from my August bicycle crash. I’m  really just excited about being so strong for so long. I’ve broken 28 minutes on 11 separate occasions so this wasn’t close to my fastest MRR, but I’m happy. Next year it will likely be Debbie’s turn to run hard and see how fast she can go. I will probably run with Dahlia for a few years and then see about running fast again when I turn 50.

Race Results

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