RRW: Virtual Manchester Road Race Features Current Elites And A Dozen Past Champions

By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2020 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

(06-Nov) — While the 84th edition of the Manchester Road Race won’t be held on the streets of Manchester, Conn., on Thanksgiving Day this year, the race’s virtual version will still feature many top athletes, including a dozen of the event’s past champions.  To support what is usually America’s most competitive “turkey trot,” 12 former winners who have accounted for 35 Manchester Road Race titles, and ten other elite athletes who have strong connections to the race, have volunteered to participate in the virtual event by running the race’s 4.748-mile distance at locations throughout the country and the world.

Diane Nukuri after winning the 2014 Manchester Road Race (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

“These great athletes won’t be receiving prizes or appearances fees this year, but they will all earn our eternal gratitude for supporting the Manchester Road Race during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Dr. Tris Carta, president of the Manchester Road Race Committee and an area dentist.  “Jim Harvey, our elite runner coordinator, did a terrific job soliciting their participation, which adds excitement and enthusiasm for the virtual race.”

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Past champions who are participating in the virtual road race are Edna Kiplagat of Kenya (2019), John Treacy of Ireland (1978, 1979, 1984 and 1985), Amy Rudolph (1995 – 1997, 2000, 2002), Amby Burfoot (1968, 1969, 1971 – 1977), Diane Nukuri (2014, 2015), Eamon Coghlan of Ireland (1981 – 1983), Kim Smith of New Zealand (2004, 2005), Paul Chelimo (2017), John Gregorek (1988, 1989, 1991, 1993), Aaron Braun (2012), Mark Carroll of Ireland (1998, 2002) and Charlie Duggan (1980).  Burfoot has run the race 57 consecutive times.

Other present-day elites who are running include Olympians Molly Huddle, Donn Cabral, Chris Thompson (GBR), and Eilish McColgan (GBR).  Johnny Gregorek, who was tenth in the 2017 World Athletics Championships 1500m, is also participating.

Carta said that the elite runners will download apps with GPS capabilities to their smart phones that will permit them to run the virtual race at any location of their choice between November 19 – 25.  An event map depicting the race route will appear on their phones, enabling them to monitor their progress on the actual Manchester course as they run. Their names and times will be uploaded to MRR officials when they complete the virtual race.

Organizers had hoped to offer an in-person version of the race this year with 550 runner setting off in a wave start, but those plans were scrapped when, in concert with city and state officials, the race committee decided that they could not hold the event safely.  The race routinely draws over 10,000 runners and thousands of spectators line the one-loop course which starts and finishes on Main Street.

Runners and walkers of all abilities are encouraged to enter this year’s virtual Manchester Road Race.  Registration remains open through November 24 at www.manchesterroadrace.com.  The registration fee is only $20 and allows the race to continue to support area charities, one of its core missions.