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home > races/results > usa: massachusetts > 21st annual feaster five road races—as american as thanksgiving and apple pie

21st Annual Feaster Five Road Races—As American as Thanksgiving and Apple Pie
The Feaster Five races provide a terrific opportunity for runners of all abilities—and walkers too—to participate in a holiday tradition. These races are for the entire clan, including those visiting from the far reaches of the country. Come to Andover, Massachusetts on Thanksgiving morning, November 27.

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By Linda Glass Fechter
Posted Monday, 20 October, 2008

The Feaster Five Road Races, 8K, 5K, Kids’ K, are truly an annual tradition. As with the holiday itself, Feaster Five is steeped in tradition: it always takes place on a Thursday morning; it’s always held in the great town of Andover, Massachusetts; there are always lots of participants and spectators, and lots of camaraderie among the runners because it takes place on Thanksgiving morning. In fact, just about the only thing that does change is the weather…and in New England in November, that’s quite a variable!

This race, now in its 21st year, is as much a part of Thanksgiving Day as turkey and cranberry sauce. It’s an ideal way to start the holiday. Every runner is encouraged to register their entire family, the more the merrier, so bring out-of-town-guests including Aunt Betty and Uncle John…bring the older ones, the teens and the younger ones. Just as the name implies…this race is a runner’s “feast”…there’s a distance that everyone can sink their teeth into, no matter what age or ability.

“It’s tradition, its family…its apple pie. It’s the start of the holiday season,” says Feaster Five Race Director, Dave McGillivray, who is also the BAA Boston Marathon Race Director. “It’s justification to eat a second helping.”
There are five selections on the Thanksgiving Day Race menu:
• Kid’s K (approx. 1/2 mile) for children 12 and under begins at 8:00 a.m.
• 5K (3.1 miles, certified) run and walk at 8:30 a.m.
• 5-mile (8K certified) run and walk begin at 8:30 a.m.

The adult races will begin on Main Street at the corner of Route 133 and Route 28 in Andover and end at Brickstone Square, Andover, Massachusetts. The Kid’s K will be held on the track in the park next to Balmoral Street and only a few yards from the race starting line. The wide Main Street of Andover provides a smooth start for the simultaneous 8K and the 5K; there are runners’ and walkers’ divisions in both. This race can be as competitive or as easy going as you desire. The “field” is filled with elite and everyday athletes running together, however, sometimes the fiercest competition is between husband and wife, brother and brother, sister and brother, sister and sister, or parents and kids.

Noah Swayne, may he rest in peace, would be so proud to know that all finishers receive a Table Talk APPLE PIE to take home to accompany the holiday dinner. (NOTE: Noah Swayne was the inventor of the Apple Pie. We at coolrunning like to combine athleticism with education-especially history). In addition to the pie, the first 6,000 who register for the 5K and 5-mile race will be guaranteed a commemorative, multi-colored LONG SLEEVE technical T-Shirt! Kids will receive a special gift courtesy of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Both Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare and the Eagle-Tribune Publishing Company head an impressive list of supportive sponsors who make this great event possible.

Since 1994 this holiday celebration has been managed and directed by DMSE Sports, Inc. DMSE’s founder, Dave McGillivray is Race Director of the BAA Boston Marathon. McGillivray and his team bring their logistical talents to bear on the streets of Andover and the experience shows. From parking to racing to departure, everything caters to the participants.

The race is hosted by the Merrimack Valley Striders running club, and volunteers are aplenty. MVS will be offering their engraved souvenir Thanksgiving glasses ($8.00) for sale. You can sign up for them with on-line registration or mail-in, and pick them up with T-shirt, chip, and bib. They will also be available for sale on race day. Proceeds from the glasses help support the many club activities and competitions.

Feaster Five really is a family affair…and the more the merrier and the more lucrative. The family with the most participants, running or walking, will win a health and fitness prize, along with the chance to be eligible for a grand prize drawing of a family fun pack gift, provided by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. So maybe it’s time to call your estranged, long lost cousins and invite them to join you!! All family members to be counted must be pre-registered before November 23rd. If you are interested in participating, you must e-mail with the names of your registered family members.

Even with five different options, all runners and walkers compete on the same course…and there are no drawn out awards ceremonies. McGillivray and crew know that once you’re done running you’ll be eager to get home, baste the turkey and settle in for the day. The top three woman and men will receive their awards on the spot, but other age groups—top three in each—will have their awards mailed. Age divisions will be applicable in both races, with 12-and-under, 13-19, and traditional ten year age groups through 80+.

The beneficiary charity for this year’s event is the Merrimack Valley Hospice, which helps those in need and specializes in end-of-life care. You and your family can help by being part of the Feaster Five pledge program. Every dollar raised will go directly to benefiting terminally ill patients at Merrimack Valley Hospice. For every mile you will walk or run, you can collect pledges on behalf of the Merrimack Valley Hospice. Challenge your friends, family, and neighbors to do the same - we need your help to make our dream of a Hospice House in the Merrimack Valley a reality. For more details, see race website.

There are three ways to register: on-line, by mail, or in person. Online registration is available (through 9:00 p.m. on November 21), and is the most convenient way for you to participate in this terrific tradition. Mail-in applications are available on the Website if you prefer. And you may also register in person.

The cost is $28.00 for 5K/5M race and walk entrants on or before 11/23; after 11/23 $30.00; $5.00 for Kid’s K. All entries are non-refundable. Race packet pickup and registration will be available at the Guesthouse Inn and Suites (it is also the designated race hotel with special low rates for participants). Hours for both packet pickup and registration will be: Monday, November 24 from noon to 7:00 p.m.; Tuesday, November 25 from noon to 7:00 p.m.; and Wednesday, November 26, from noon to 6:00 p.m. Should you miss these opportunities, packets will be available on race day from 7:00 to 8:15 a.m. at Woodworth Motors, which is located near the starting line.
Family team designations must be made by November 23. Contact to register/identify your family members. Remember, the top three get prizes, and time on the course is not relevant.
The Guesthouse Inn and Suites is just off Interstate 93, Exit 47—right at the bottom of the ramp on Pelham Street.

The 5K and the 8K will start simultaneously at 8:30 a.m., with the start line on North Main Street (Route 28) just south of the intersection of Route 133. Both will head south through the center of Andover, with the 5K splitting off to the left (Elm Street) for a more direct loop back to the finish. The 8K continues further south on Route 28, then also takes a left for a counter-clockwise loop back. The two courses rejoin about .7 miles from the finish, which is a wide right turn into the broad parking lot of Brickstone Square. There are maps of both on the race Website. Both races start together and end together. Both are certified distances.

The best way to get to the race on Thanksgiving morning is to take Interstate 495 to Exit 41A, Route 28 South. As you head south on Route 28 you will be directed to parking—most parking will be within about half mile of the start and finish, so allow plenty of time.

Gather your family and celebrate the fact that you’re together by making the Feaster Five Road Race an annual tradition just as thousands have done for more than two decades. Visit the event Website, or e-mail If running the 5K isn’t enough to make you feel accomplished, you can tell your friends you did a Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day “Triathlon”…run-eat-sleep. Hope to see you there!



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