2022 Manchester Road Race

What a great day! The 86th running of the Manchester Road Race (MRR) was spectacular. The event has been at legendary status for a long time, but in my opinion, it just keeps getting better. It’s so cool for a big race to be in our “backyard.” Today’s weather was fantastic. It was cold (low 30’s Fahrenheit at the start), but there was no wind and the sun was shining brightly.

With such great weather, the spectators were out in force. There had to be more than 30,000 people cheering from the sides of the roads. It was awesome. The four of us ran well and for the first time in 10 years, we wall ran independently. For the last five years, I ran with one of the kids (not counting the COVID-19 virtual version), but this year I was able to give it my all. Both kids are now strong enough and skilled enough to navigate a race with more than 9,600 runners. This was Shepard’s 10th MRR and Dahlia’s 7th.

Once again, HORST Engineering sponsored Veteran’s Row.

One reason why I wanted to run this one hard was because it was my first year in the 50-54 age group. 50 is a milestone unto itself and I wanted to see how my time would compare with prior years. This was my 33rd MRR and 28th in a row. My first was in 1985. The race was much smaller then.

Debbie ran her 24th overall (and in a row). It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without running the race. Our tradition is a shared tradition. So many other families have long streaks as well. Our friend Todd Brown did his 46th MRR today, and they have all been in a row. Last night, we sat with him at the annual pasta dinner at the Elk’s Club. It was fun to reminisce. Amby Burfoot was also at dinner. He finished his 60th MRR today. That’s the most of anyone…for now. He also won the 75-79 age group for good measure.

The race is full of traditions. We walked over from Spring Street around 9:00 A.M. At 9:10 A.M. we took the annual Shenipsit Striders “team photo” in front of St. James Church. I’ve been the photographer for as long as I’ve been a Strider, which is about 22 years. After the photo, I do a warmup (in recent years with Shepard) in the streets behind the church. We wind our way past the old Cheney Mills (now apartments) and by the Cheney mansions.

This year, I went for a second short warmup and trip to the port-a-potty. I normally wait until the last moment to get into the runner corral for my seed group (under 30 minutes) just before the national anthem is sung. This is usually at 9:50 A.M. The race starts sharp at 10:00 A.M.

Today, I found Shepard in the corral. He had already lined up. There were about 150 people in front of us and more than 8,000 behind us. This year’s official registration numbers were more than 9,600 runners, though the results show 8,304 finishers. Last weekend, nearly 1,000 children participated in the Little Manchester Road Race. I’m sure some people didn’t start and some people didn’t finish the 4.748 route. Among the finishers were some great champions. The men’s race was won by Conner Mantz of Utah. He broke the course record, finishing in 21:04. The women’s winner was a repeat from last year. Weini Kelati couldn’t best her own course record, but she won again and kudos to both of them.

All of the Livingston’s had good runs today. Debbie was probably the least satisfied. She hasn’t felt fast and is searching for more speed. Of course, it’s all relative. She was still sixth in the 45-49 age group with a respectable time of 34:52. I know she was hoping for better and I’m sure she will increase her focus in 2023.

Dahlia was also a bit slower than last year, but this was her first time running on her own without a parent to support her. She did great navigating a high density field of runners and nabbed third in the under 13 age group. She was disappointed with her 36:18 but cheered up when she learned about her podium position. She is excited for 2023 when she joins the high school cross country team. I bet her time plummets.

Speaking of plummeting times, Shepard was the MVP of the family today. He absolutely crushed the race, posting a 26:14. That earned him ninth in the highly competitive 14-18 age group. Five of the guys in front of him were 18 year old college freshmen. He had a great battle with his Rockville High School rival, John Glidden. Bolton and Rockville are in the same conference, so Shep and John have battled each other for two years at events ranging from the 800 to the 5,000 (cross country). Last week, they were both honored at the Connecticut XC All-State banquet. I expect their rivalry to continue on the track this spring.

Today, John went out very hard and it looks like he paid the price after the hill. He and Shep traded spots, but eventually John got him back and held him off by two seconds. Lucas Thompson of Simsbury squeezed between them. He nipped Shep by 13/100ths of a second. Shepard’s time was far better than my best, which was 27:00 in 2009.

I’ve slowed, but I’m still proud of my ability to run fast. Today I ran 27:43 and that got me second in the 50-54 age group. I was well behind Brian Murray of Coventry who ran 27:02, but I’ll take it. I did several morning workouts over the last month in an attempt to hone some speed. I haven’t run much on the road, but having done this race so many times, I know exactly how to pace it. I felt good today and this was a good time. I ran a second slower in 2016 and hadn’t put up a significantly faster time since 2012, 10 years ago. I went out hard but not too hard. I ran the hill steadily. I kept Brett Stoeffler in site until the top, but that’s when I started to falter. The uphill is my strength and I usually struggle from the top of the hill until the 3.5 mile mark. I kept things in check and lost a few spots, but was able to mostly hold my ground. I was able to accelerate a bit towards the end, but lost a few more spots on Main Street. Regardless, I’m pleased with how my 50 year-old body responded. It was a bit of mind over matter.

There is so much more I could write about the race, but I’ll stop here. I love this race. My family has come to love this race. We saw so many friends today. One friend I’ll mention is Eric Fleming. He and his wife Julie brought their three kids down from their home outside Boston. Eric grew up in Manchester and we were HORST Cycling teammates dating back to 1997. He texted me this morning before the race and we were able to connect in front of St. James. It was so nice to see him.

My legs are sore from the pounding they took on the pavement, but I’ll be buzzing for the next few days. The pain is worth it.

Race Results

Full Replay – TV Coverage

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