MANCHESTER, Conn. (WTNH) — In any normal year, Manchester would be gearing up for the Thanksgiving Day Road Race. Of course, this is not a normal year.
Like most road races, Manchester is going virtual this year. They hope lots of people still run the race, just not at the normal starting line and not on Thanksgiving.
“We don’t want anybody Thanksgiving morning in Manchester,” said race President Tris Carta. “With COVID, we are trying to not have crowds.”
Those still interested can register for $20 and download the race app.
“Just start running and it will tell you your half-mile splits, and when you’re about 100 yards from the finish line, it will say, ‘100 yards to go!’ and then you sprint to the end, and automatically your time will be uploaded.”
Since anyone can run anywhere, Carta has gotten a dozen former champions to sign up, including Olympic silver medalist John Treacy.
“I really love the atmosphere on Thanksgiving Day in Manchester,” Treacy said, via Zoom from his native Ireland. “There was nowhere better to be on Thanksgiving morning.”
He was an elite college runner when he won the first time in 1978. His buddies made fun of him for not breaking the course record.
“Yeah, I came back the second year and I brought a couple of guys with me, and I broke the course record that year by 65 seconds and it stood for a long period of time,” said Treacy.
He then won two more times. Kieran Donovan will also run this year from his native Ireland. He ran in Manchester in the late 60s and early 70s.
“I remember it was massive crowds and for such a short race,” Donovan said, also via Zoom. “It’s over in 20-odd minutes.”
It may take the elite runners 20-odd minutes to run 4.748 miles. The folks dressed as turkeys and Christmas trees take a little longer, but the virtual race has something for them too.
“We did decide that we wanted to have a virtual costume contest, and you can submit pictures of yourself with your bib up until, I think, it’s November 25th,” Carta said.
One nice thing is for once, the people who keep the race running actually get to run the race.
“All the COVID and all the craziness going on, I’ve been doing a lot of running,” Carta said. “I’m in pretty good shape. I’m hoping to, for an old guy, get a pretty good time in.”
No matter how fast you go, it’s just nice to keep an 84-year-old tradition going.
“I’m kind of delighted to do it,” Treacy said. “It actually keeps me connected to Manchester on Thanksgiving Day, and there’s no better way in terms of celebrating, as I said to you earlier, celebrating Thanksgiving.”
If you want to run the race, you can sign up online and get the app.
You have to run the virtual race sometime from Nov. 19-25. The window for running ends the day before Thanksgiving because they don’t want people gathering here in Manchester on Thanksgiving Day because they don’t want anyone endangering their health.