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home > races/results > usa: new hampshire > the manchester city marathon, half marathon and new marathon relay—it just keeps getting better

The Manchester City Marathon, Half Marathon and new Marathon Relay—It Just Keeps Getting Better
The third annual Manchester City Marathon, Half Marathon and new Marathon Relay: Your chance to run over the river and through the woods (and a bit more!) in New Hampshire’s largest city. Cover the streets of the Queen City on foot and be part of something spectacular this fall.

The Manchester City Marathon, Half Marathon and new Marathon Relay—It Just Keeps Getting Better
Michelle Boisvert

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By Michelle Boisvert
Posted Monday, 27 April, 2009

his was terrific in its first year and just gets better with age. No, I’m not talking about a fine wine. I’m referring to the Manchester City Marathon and Half Marathon. Now in its third year, this event continues to evolve. With a kids’ marathon, health and fitness expo, and the main event on Sunday, race weekend truly offers something for everyone. And the addition of the marathon relay gives runners of all abilities—from recreational to those logging high mileage—a chance to get in on the action. This year race day is Sunday, November 1, 2009.

The marathon, half marathon, and the first leg of the marathon relay set off on the streets of Manchester at 8:50 a.m. Starting at the Athlete’s Village at Veteran’s Park on Elm Street, runners can grab a few seconds of fame during WMUR-TV’s live broadcast from the starting line. Want to run the full marathon, but know you won’t finish in the five-hour limit? No worries. This year’s marathon now features an Early Start option at 7:50 a.m. “The Early Start gives runners of all abilities the chance to participate in the marathon,” said Sarah Normand, race director.

New for 2009, the Manchester City Marathon will feature a 2 to 4-person marathon relay—in place of the team competitions of past years. Runners in the 4-person teams will run legs ranging in distance from 5 to 8 miles. Runners in 2-person teams each run 13.1 miles. Relay hand-offs will be in large, spectator-friendly locations on the course—allowing runners preparing for their leg enough space to warm up and stretch. The marathon relay is limited to 100 teams. Registration for the full and half marathons will close out at 2,000 total runners. Registration is now open. Visit to register on line or print an application.

“We’re hoping that all events in this race will be building blocks for recreational runners,” said Normand. “You may run the five-mile leg of the relay one year, the half-marathon the next year, and then build up to run the marathon the following year.” The relay should also beef up crowd support throughout the second half of the race, according to the race committee.

In addition, this year’s event is going to be a bit greener than the past two years. There will be large scale recycling. All registered runners will receive a great quality, eco-friendly wicking shirt made out of a bamboo fiber (really comfortable). Ladies, you won’t have to worry about getting another one of those nice-but-doesn’t-quite-fit race T-shirts. Not only are the shirts Earth-friendly, they’re also gender-specific for an excellent fit.

Over the River, Through the Woods, Around the City
No marathon is easy. Just ask Phidippides. To me, it seems redundant to say that a marathon course is challenging. In a few of the marathons that I’ve run, simply holding back tears at mile 23 was a challenge. And the Manchester City Marathon course fits into that “challenging” category. Sure the course has its ups and downs, but it’s still a great course to run if you want to qualify for Boston. In 2008, 21% of Manchester City Marathon runners qualified for Boston. This earned the race a rank in the top 30 qualifying races of 2008 throughout the USA and Canada.

After leaving Elm Street, runners head to Commercial Street—past massive converted mill buildings that have been a fixture along the Merrimack River since the late 1800’s. The course then takes runners up River Road, where they can soak up the views of the quiet North End neighborhoods and parks. A right turn onto Union Street offers some relief from one of the first—and longest—hills on the course. Just after the 5-mile mark all runners retreat from pavement and run a mile on well-groomed, wide-open dirt trails around Dorrs Pond, which is located within Livingston Park.

The next noticeable uphill comes into play at about mile 10. But the generous downhill that follows more than makes up for that initial elevation gain. It also gives half marathon runners a fast final push before heading to the finish line. At the end of Hanover Street, full and half marathon racers part ways. Those doing 13.1 turn left for a straight shot through the chute. Those going the full 26.2 turn right down Elm Street and then left onto Bridge Street—crossing over the rushing Merrimack River and taking it to the streets on the West Side.

If you’ve run a conservative race for the first half, the second half is the time to kick it in gear. The last half of the marathon course is much milder (elevation-wise) than the first half. You can tick away the miles as you wind through the streets of the West Side neighborhoods and up Daniel Plummer Road. A run through the crowds at St. Anselm’s College gives way to a steep and fast descent at Rundlett Hill Road, which takes runners into the neighboring town of Bedford, N.H. You can expect one more steep and rewarding downhill on Varney Street—just before hitting mile 24.

Runners get another well-deserved break from the pavement and some eye candy as they run over the latest addition to the Manchester landscape (and one of the positive course changes)—the pedestrian footbridge. Here, you’ll once again travel over the Merrimack River, past the New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ Stadium and back into downtown Manchester. A few final twists and turns and it’s time for that final sprint to the finish line at the Athlete’s Village on Elm. With 13 water stops throughout the course also stocked with sports drinks, energy gels and eager volunteers, all runners are sure to stay hydrated and motivated. Want to see the course for yourself? The marathon website has a very cool course flyover option here:

Race Weekend is for Everyone!
The Sports and Fitness Expo opens on Friday, October 30th from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel on Elm Street in downtown Manchester; it is free to all. Runners can pick up their race packets and check out the latest in shoes, apparel, nutritional supplements, active gear and health care products. Building off of its partnership with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Hampshire, the expo will also host several health and fitness screenings and clinics, such as yoga demonstrations, nutrition clinics and information on injury prevention.

New England running legend Bill Rodgers, a four-time winner of the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon (and recent finisher at the B.A.A. Boston), will share some marathon wisdom and stories with attendees at a sports clinic on Friday afternoon. The expo is also open on Saturday, October 31st from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. On-site registration will be available, but only if the races haven’t closed out.

The third annual MCM Kids Marathon Run starts on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. at—home of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats baseball team. Presented by MVP Health Care, the Kids Marathon Run gives children from participating schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, and other camps the chance to log the final miles needed to complete their first marathons, with total mileage combined over several months.

Students, with the help of their schools, teachers, coaches or parents, begin logging miles months before their big day on October 31 until they’ve accumulated at least the equivalent of 25.2 miles of fun activity. They’ll run their final mile around the stadium. The event was created to help promote a healthy lifestyle and help kids become more physically fit. And it’s working! In 2008, about 300 school kids ran more than 10,000 miles. All participants receive finisher’s medals and a race bag. Parents are encouraged to pre-register children online at Download the Kids Marathon Activity Meter to track progress here: Race day registration will also be available starting at 10 a.m. at the stadium.

The Athlete’s Village, located within Veteran’s Park, will once again be the hub of excitement and activity throughout the entire race—and after. Before the starting gun goes off, meet up with fellow runners to stretch, plan out your race strategy and tie and untie those running shoes a couple hundred times. Once the runners descend onto the city streets, families and friends can kick back and enjoy music provided by WZID 95.7 FM while sampling a variety of delicious soups from local restaurants at the Soup Cook-Off!

You Have Got to Run Manchester!
Race organizers have really done an excellent job this year. The third annual Manchester City Marathon, Half Marathon, and new Marathon Relay surely promise something for everyone. Whether you’re just getting into running or are looking to earn that number for Boston, you absolutely must run Manchester this November First. And with so much to see and do in Manchester and surrounding neighborhoods, get ready for a weekend packed full of excitement that will keep everyone motivated and entertained.



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