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April 17. 2013 10:45PM

Local road races downplay chance of danger

Two small-scale road races are scheduled for the Manchester area this weekend, days after the deadly bombings that marred the Boston Marathon.

Now that warm weather has arrived, a chance to run a 5- or 10-kilometer race is available nearly every weekend. And the races are sometimes accompanied by other events, such as the Earth Day Fair scheduled alongside the Earth Day 5K on Saturday at the Stonyfield Yogurt headquarters in Londonderry.

Such races draw a couple of thousand runners and take three hours or so to complete. Organizers said their events don't compare to the Boston Marathon, and they downplayed any chance of danger.

"A local 5K that is not an international media event, it's not the same level of target (as the Boston Marathon)," said John Mortimer, founder of Millennium Running, which organizes and manages several races in New Hampshire. "It's like comparing a terrorist attack on the Super Bowl to a Pop Warner football game."

Manchester does host one large race in August. The Cigna-Elliot usually draws about 6,000 runners to downtown, along with a couple thousand spectators.

Organizers said Tuesday they will meet with Manchester police and consider additional security measures for the race.

"The health and safety of the participants and spectators of the Cigna/Elliot Corporate 5K Road Race is paramount," reads a joint statement issued Tuesday by Cigna and the Elliot Health Systems.

Meanwhile, Manchester police said police agencies will be sharing information in light of the Boston Marathon bombings. But police Lt. Maureen Tessier would not discuss security for upcoming races.

"We've got to let this incident unfold here and get more information," Tessier said Tuesday. "There's a lot of conflicting information in the media. Certainly law enforcement will be sharing information."

Security is expected to be heightened at the Stonyfield event in Londonderry, said company spokesman Carrie Kosik. "There are no threats, but it's obviously done to keep the runners safe," she said. About 3,000 have signed up, and a total of 5,000 are expected at the event.

Another race planned for Manchester this weekend is the Totally Awesome 80s Run, which starts at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Radisson Hotel.

The race, which raises money for the advocate group CASA, includes light food and a cash bar. A live 80s dance band will perform at an after-party inside the hotel.

Ken Culbertson, owner of Good Day for a Run race management company, said he's hired 14 special-duty police to be on hand at the event for crowd control. If there is any hint of a threat, Culbertson said, he would cancel the event. "It's terrible, but it happened," Culbertson said. "We have to move on or else they win."



mhayward@unionleader.com


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