A feel-good day for athletes, and downtown
A marathon isn't good for just the runners; it's also good for the community.
The Anthem Manchester City Marathon, Half Marathon and Relay were once again a big draw and despite some chilly temperatures for the start, people lined the barriers down Elm Street as the racers took off just before 9 a.m. Sunday. There were more than 1,700 runners and probably just as many people cheering them on.
"From my perspective, I think things went great," said race director Jayne Cornell. "There's just something about a race that brings out a lot of energy."
That energy was evident in the runners' village set up at Veterans Memorial Park, where volunteers handed out food and water and runners could even get a massage. Athletes met up with their families and celebrated their times, lots of which were personal records.
"The whole thing is hectic," said Bob Dolan, a member of the race's board of directors who was in charge of managing the runners' village. "But it all seems to come together."Andy Schachat of Announcers on the Run called out the names of runners as they crossed the finish line with the help of race VIP Kathrine Switzer. Race staff draped thermal blankets and medals over the racers as they finished.
Runners said there was also good support along the course, which meandered throughout both the East and West sides of the Queen City. The biggest crowd by most accounts was right around Livingston Park at miles 5 and 6.
"I couldn't see anybody, but I guess they saw me and they were yelling my name," said Matt LaBerge of Manchester. "It was a big pick-me-up."
And it also injected some business into the veins of downtown businesses.
Scott Sylvester, the co-owner of Runner's Alley on Bridge Street, said customers were packed into his store about 8 a.m. People in the store were shoulder to shoulder and there was a line of people waiting to get in.
"This is probably the biggest year we've had," Sylvester said.
At the Shaskeen on Elm Street, a group of people were huddled at the end of the bar talking about the race. One runner was finishing up a coffee to warm herself after running in the cool weather.
"Anything that the city does for the people is good," said Nate Sheridan, the bar's co-owner.
Down the street at JW Hill's Sports Bar & Grille, the doors opened at 11:30 a.m. There was already a good crowd just after noon, especially considering the Patriots weren't playing until after 4 p.m.
Of course the bar has a prime location, just yards away from the finish line.
"It's always had an impact on (our business)," said manager JB Smith. "We usually have people waiting when we open the doors at 11:30."