CONNECTICUT SPORTS MEDIA ALLIANCE TO HONOR WRIXON (May 8, 2023)
Former Manchester Road Race champion Dr. Leslie Wrixon will receive the Connecticut Sports Media Alliance’s President’s Award for 2023 at the organization’s 81st annual Gold Key Dinner in October.
Wrixon won both the overall women’s division championship and the scholastic title at the MRR on Thanksgiving Day in 1982 while she was a 17-year-old senior at Glastonbury High School.
She is the only athlete in the history of Manchester’s Turkey Day run to win an open division championship while in high school, and her winning time of 27:01 that day is still an age group record in the women’s 14-18 bracket.
Wrixon, now a clinical psychologist with a practice in Glastonbury, won multiple state championships in cross country and track for Glastonbury High School, and went on to compete in both sports at Boston College
Tickets for the Gold Key Dinner are available by contacting CSMA President Tim Jensen at 860-394-5091, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
REDMAN NAMED MRR’S DIRECTOR OF RACE OPERATIONS (April 26, 2023)
A former decathlon competitor and long-time local high school football and track coach will oversee race day activities at the Manchester Road Race this November.
Race officials announced today that Thayer Redman, 53, has been named the Director of Race Operations for the annual Thanksgiving Day run. He succeeds Jim Balcome, who served as the MRR’s Race Director for the past 43 years.
Redman, who has been a physical education teacher at Manchester High School (MHS) since 1995, worked alongside Balcome as the assistant race director for more than a decade.
Redman recently stepped down after 28 years as the head track coach at Manchester High School. In 2011, Redman was honored as the Connecticut and New England Track Coach of the Year and was one of eight finalists for the National Track Coach of the Year Award.
He was also an assistant high school football coach for many years at MHS and at RHAM High School in Hebron.
A graduate of the University of Maine, Redman was a standout athlete on the Black Bears’ track team, competing in the hurdles, long jump, decathlon, and sprint relay events. He also played for two years on the UMaine football team.
“Thayer brings a great wealth of experience and enthusiasm to our road race“, said Dr. Tris Carta, President of the Manchester Road Race Committee. “We are so pleased that he has agreed to take over the reins from Jim Balcome on race day.”
Redman, who was raised in Maine, moved to Connecticut in the mid-1990s after teaching on a Navajo Reservation in Arizona. His wife, Susan Moriarty Redman, is a Manchester native and she introduced him to the MRR in 1994.
“I have been to every race since then, either cheering on my students, running with my family or volunteering with clean-up and registration,” Redman said. “When Jim Balcome asked me to join the race committee and subsequently become his assistant, I jumped at it. I believe the Manchester Road Race is one of the best sporting events anywhere.”
Redman and his wife live in Hebron and have two children, Cal, who is a member of the Stony Brook University Football Team and Piper, who attends the University of Maine.
Redman said that one of his immediate priorities will be continuing the MRR’s reputation as an inclusive and “runner friendly” event. “We have some of the best runners in the world competing as well as weekend joggers,” he said. “It’s a wonderful tradition that allows everyone to be part of the best day in Manchester.”
MRR ANNOUNCES CHARITABLE DONATIONS FROM 2022 RACE (April 7, 2023)
The Manchester Road Race Committee announced today that it will make donations totaling more than $68,000 from the proceeds of last year’s Thanksgiving Day run.
Although the COVID pandemic and resulting decrease in race revenues limited the organization’s charitable giving during the prior two years, the success of the 2022 event enabled the MRR to resume its tradition of community support.
Organizations that combat food insecurity, rehabilitate local residences, and conduct research to eradicate crippling diseases will be major beneficiaries of the road race committee’s contributions.
The Manchester Area Conference of Churches Charities will receive funding for its Community Kitchen, Emergency Food Pantry and Community Outreach & Emergency Services programs. Rebuilding Together of Manchester, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association, will also receive donations.Rebuilding Together of Manchester is a local agency dedicated to helping stabilize affordable homeownership. Muscular Dystrophy research has been a charitable objective of road race sponsors since the early 1950s.
MARC Inc., which assists individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities; Community Health Resources, which provides outpatient therapy for parents, children, and families; and the Manchester Police Activities League, an initiative by local police to offer opportunities and activities for positive interactions between youth and law enforcement, will each receive bequests.
Other organizations receiving contributions from the road race include: Manchester High School for the Greater Manchester Journal Inquirer Randy Smith Invitational Track Meet; Manchester Fire-Rescue-EMS for its “Stop the Bleed” program; MRC Track & Field Series; and the Manchester High School “Project Graduation.”
Thanks to 86 runners who participated in the MRR’s 2022 “Honors Club” program, the Community Child Guidance Clinic of Manchester will receive the sum of $8,600. Each Thanksgiving, up to 125 competitors can pay $100, instead of the traditional entry fee, to run in the road race. All of the money is donated by the race committee to a local charity. Last November, the Community Child Guidance Clinic, which offers area families a special education day school and a system of child and family-focused mental health services, was the designated charity of the race’s “Honors Club” initiative.
“We are extremely pleased to make these contributions,” said Dr. Tris Carta, President of the Manchester Road Race Committee. “All of the organizations offer wonderful services and programs, and this is our way of giving back to a community that has always been so supportive of our Turkey Day road race.”
The 87th Manchester Road Race will be held at 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day (November 23, 2023). The event attracts some of the world’s best distance competitors, and is run on a 4.748-mile loop course through the town’s central streets. The race starts and finishes on Main Street, in front of St. James Church.
MRR MOURNS THE LOSS OF DR. EAMON FLANAGAN (April 5, 2023)
The Manchester Road Race Committee is mourning the loss of one of its founding fathers and biggest boosters.
Dr. Eamon Flanagan, an Irish-born physician and avid runner who co-founded the road race committee and helped to revitalize the Thanksgiving Day event when it experienced growing pains during the “running boom” of the 1970s, died on April 3, 2023.
Dr. Flanagan became the first President of the Manchester Road Race Committee in 1977 and held the post through 1989. During his tenure, race officials recruited an expanded corps of volunteers and implemented new timing and finish line chute systems.
The long-time Manchester resident and chief of anesthesiology at Manchester Memorial Hospital also helped to transform the local Turkey Day run into an international race by convincing great Irish athletes such as John Treacy and Eamonn Coghlan to run here.
“Eamon Flanagan was a tremendously kind, humble and generous person who loved the road race and worked so hard for decades to make it successful,” said Dr. Tris Carta, the current President of the road race committee. “Our hearts go out to his wife Sheila and the entire Flanagan family,” Doctor Carta added. “We will always remember Eamon with great affection and sincere gratitude for his many exceptional contributions to our race.”
Doctor Flanagan’s complete obituary is available at https://tierneyfuneralhome.com
RACE SPONSORS ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL BLOOD DRIVE (November 25, 2022)
On the day after it held a road race that attracted 9,641 registered runners and featured a new course record by men’s champion Conner Mantz and an exciting title defense by women’s winner Weini Kelati, the Manchester Road Race Committee sponsored a highly successful blood drive as an encore.
Road Race officials announced today that 364 pints of blood, which will benefit 1092 patients in need of blood, plasma, and platelets, were collected on Friday at the Ray Crothers Memorial Blood Drive. In 2021, 335 pints of blood were donated at the MRR event.
“We were delighted by the turnout and we are so grateful to our wonderful donors, volunteers and sponsors,” said Lance Morgan, a local physician assistant and member of the MRR’s Executive Committee who headed the blood drive. “There is a critical shortage of blood in Connecticut right now, and the generous response of the people who rolled up their sleeves to donate will definitely save lives.”
The blood drive, which the race committee co-sponsored with the American Red Cross of Connecticut, was held at Manchester High School. All donors received Manchester Road Race tee shirts.
One of Connecticut’s largest single-day blood collection efforts, the blood drive began in 1986, and has been held in Manchester annually since then on the day following the road race. In 2008, organizers named the event in memory of Ray Crothers, a beloved former MRR champion from Tolland, who died of cancer that year.
Morgan noted that the 364 units of blood that were donated Friday brought the total number of pints collected by the MRR since 1986 to 7886.
Financial sponsorship for the 2022 Ray Crothers Memorial Blood Drive was provided by ECHN, Eastern Connecticut Pathology Group and Highland Park Market.
JIM BALCOME TO RETIRE AS MRR RACE DIRECTOR AFTER THIS YEAR’S EVENT (August 18, 2022)
Thanksgiving in Manchester will seem a little bit different, starting in 2023.
Jim Balcome, the longtime race director of the Manchester Road Race who famously announces that “This is Thanksgiving in Manchester” when the starter’s gun is fired each year, will retire from the position that he has held for 43 years after this November’s race is held.
Balcome, 78, a retired guidance counselor and track coach at Rockville High School, was selected as the nation’s top road race director in 2019, and has led the MRR since 1979.
“Serving as the race director of the Manchester Road Race has been my second full-time job for more than four decades,” Balcome said. “I love the road race and I loved every minute that I’ve spent doing this. I am extremely grateful to all the wonderful runners, volunteers, sponsors and spectators who make ‘Thanksgiving in Manchester’ possible each year.”
A former recreational runner with the Manchester Striders Running Club who competed in the MRR for several years in the 1970s before being asked to lead it, Balcome has been widely praised for modernizing the road race and raising its profile and stature in the running community.
“There are not enough superlatives in the dictionary for me to adequately describe all the great work Jim Balcome has done as our race director, or what he means to the Manchester Road Race,” said Dr. Tris Carta, President of the Manchester Road Race Committee. “Jim’s superb organizational skills, tireless work ethic, ability to forge partnerships, and immense devotion to our race---and especially all the runners---has transformed the Manchester Road Race from a small regional event into the large and world-famous road race it is today,” Carta continued.
“Several years ago, Jim was voted the top road race director in the nation by his peers,” Carta added. “That’s something everyone in Manchester has known for the past 43 years. Jim Balcome is the absolute best, and we are so grateful to him for his decades of devoted service. Although we’re delighted that he’ll be at the helm again this Thanksgiving, we are going to miss him terribly starting in 2023,” Carta said.
Balcome, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, said that he and his wife, Joy, intend to spend more time at their second home in Florida after he retires from the road race. “Although I will be stepping back a bit after the last runner crosses the line on Thanksgiving, the Manchester Road Race will always be a big part of my life and occupy a special place in my heart,” he said.
“Jim will forever be the “voice” of the Manchester Road Race,” said Manchester Mayor Jay Moran. “On behalf of the Town of Manchester, all our citizens, and all the runners and road race volunteers, I would like to thank Jim Balcome for being the best race director of the best race in the country,” he added.” I wish Jim and his wife, Joy, a happy retirement.”
Carta said that an announcement about Balcome’s successor as race director will be made at a later date, after this year’s road race is held.