Publisher's Note: Get ready to run
This week, downtown Manchester hosts one of the largest running events in New England. Itís the annual Cigna Healthcare 5K road race, which each year draws somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 participants. Behind the starting line near City Hall, they pack Elm Street solid for a couple of blocks.
This yearís race is set for Thursday, Aug. 14, at 6:20 p.m. Even if youíre not running or walking the course, itís worth getting downtown just to witness the spectacle.
But if youíre up for a 5K, I hope you join in. Being in the middle of a gigantic mob as it charges through the city gives you a different perspective on the community. How many other chances do you get to run on Elm Streetís double yellow line all the way up to the North End?
Well, youíll get another chance this November, when the second running of the Manchester Marathon takes place, which also uses Elm Street (and many others) as part of its course.
And there are other road races year-round, not just in Manchester but in Nashua and Concord and many other area communities. They come in various lengths, from the 5K (about 3.1 miles) to, yes, the full marathon, which weighs in at a sadistic 26.2 miles.
Signing up for a local race can be a great motivator to keep running to stay in shape, and races are also a great way to get to know the area. Race courses often wind through neighborhoods and streets that you might never have had a reason to visit, other than trying to reach the finish line.
In my own battle to keep from becoming the Pillsbury Dough Boy, Iíve made a project of running races (5K or longer) in as many New Hampshire towns as possible. After eight years of steadily pursuing this goal, I recently bagged Town Number 100 ó a 5K out in Seabrook last weekend.
Even though I took care of Manchester, Nashua and Concord early on, I still run a few races in each town just for the fun of it. Last year, in a do-it-yourself duathalon, I biked up to Concord on Route 3A one Saturday morning, ran the annual Bill Luti 5-miler, and then took the bike back home. A bit much, but a memorable Saturday.
Another great experience was last November, when I ran the half-marathon course (13.1 miles) of the reborn Manchester Marathon. For the final stretch, both the half-marathon and the full marathon courses converged on Hanover Street and Elm Street leading up to the common finish line at Veteranís Park.
And as it happened, my overall pace turned out to be exactly half that of the guy who won the full marathon. So yes, we both came down the final stretch together, with the crowds cheering him on, and with me right behind him, reveling in all the undeserved applause. For a moment, I pondered pouring it on and trying to pass him right at the finish line, but I didnít want to get punched. Even so, it was the closest Iíll probably ever get to knowing what itís like to finish at the top.
Just goes to show that you never know what might happen when you lace up the running shoes. So check for upcoming races on Web sites such as coolrunning.com (New Hampshire is full of them, especially as we head into fall), and Iíll see you out on the trails!.