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Scene in Manchester: Runners get ready to travel back in time

June 29. 2014 6:23PM

You know those nightmares where you re-live a horrible high school moment? I think one of my mine is about to come true.

John Mortimer and his crew at Millennium Running are hosting the first ever NH XC Festival at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Aug. 23. The day-long event begins with cross country races for high school teams across the state and ends with coed community 5K races for runners of all ages and abilities.

As any past or current New Hampshire high school cross country runner can tell you, the course at Derryfield Park is the toughest around. It literally brings runners to the top of McIntyre Ski Area — you know, the one most people use a chairlift to get to the top of. I don’t think anything could get me to run that beast again, except for maybe school pride.

Mortimer, who ran for Londonderry High School at the same time that I ran for Manchester High School Central, is luring past harriers like myself with a friendly little competition that lets alumni compete for new cross country uniforms for their alma mater. The registration form at, asks runners to choose their high school from a drop-down list. At the end, all the results will be merged together from competitive and recreational runners to determine the winning high school.

“The famed Derryfield Park’s XC course has significant meaning to any high schooler that ever ran in NH ... The monster hill and championship meets leave lasting memories (both good, bad, and painful),” Mortimer wrote to The Scene.

Mortimer speaks the truth. My cross country teammates and I loved and hated the sport during our time at Central in the late nineties. But while it was tough, no one had it tougher than coach Joe O’Neil.

I will never understand how or why Mr. O’Neil put up with the incessant drama that seems to be inherent to a team of high school girls. But, we are definitely all the better for it and I would love to see him at the two-mile marker yelling at us to, “pick up the pace!”

My fastest time at Derryfield is a distant memory, but whatever it was, I cannot replicate it. Mortimer is going to make us all feel a little bit faster by adjusting our times with USA Track and Field’s age grading system.

“The age grading tables will produce times that essentially convert one’s times back to what they would run in one’s prime… So the challenge is really whether you are a recent grad or graduated 30 years ago, you will be able to score for your team,” Mortimer wrote.

I have already begun urging some of my former teammates to take the challenge with me. So far, I have heard one excuse about summer vacation, an “I’ll think about it,” and another about being 37 weeks pregnant and living in California.

But, I know my former Central girls will come around, especially when they hear about the post-race beer garden. It’s a big upgrade from our days drinking warm beer in the woods.

3rd of July fireworks

Friday is Fourth of July, but in Manchester we like to get the party started early. The city’s Independence Day Celebration will take place at Arms Park this Thursday beginning at 7:30 p.m. with entertainment provided by the 39th Army Band. The fireworks will begin around 9:30 p.m. has a full list of fireworks and other Independence Day celebrations happening around the state. Click on the “Fireworks” link at the upper left hand of the page.

One day of community

I know, I know. It is not even July 4 and I am already talking back-to-school. But the summer does fly by, and preparations to collect school supplies for our neighbors in need have already begun.

Once again, Manchester Christian Church and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats will partner for One Day of Community, an event to distribute thousands of free, filled school backpacks at Sheridan-Emmett Park at 324 Beech St. on Saturday, July 26. The event also features free food, live music, and carnival activities from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Your help is needed in the weeks leading up to One Day of Community. Empty backpacks and supply lists can be picked up at MCC’s 1308 Wellington Road campus during regular business hours Monday through Thursday, or during Thursday’s 7 p.m. and Sunday’s services that run from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Filled backpacks should be returned to the church by Thursday, July 24.

If you are interested in volunteering at One Day of Community, or if you have a local business that would like to participate, please visit

Summer in the city

Summer concerts are back in Veterans Park on Thursdays beginning July 10. The free, family-friendly shows are held every Thursday, from 7 to 9:30 p.m., through Aug. 7. Each night brings a different genre of music, as well as raffles, giveaways and other fun activities.

The first act on July 10 is Adam Hebert: The Sinatra Tribute, followed by 10-piece band Manchuka on July 17, The Army Rock Band on July 24, bluegrass band Rock Spring on July 31 and The Jimmy Lehoux Band’s country classics on Aug. 7.Sara Beaudry, executive director of Intown Manchester, said the concerts are all part of Intown’s Summer Fest, which includes the Farmers Markets at Victory Park on Thursday afternoons, a Brew Fest and chicken wing competition at Arms Park on July 26, and much more.

Visit for more information on Thursday concerts and other Summer Fest events.

NH365.ORG Event of the Week

Be entertained and stay cool with The Majestic Theatre’s performance of “The Foreigner” this Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. inside the Manchester Community Music School’s air-conditioned Holy Cross Hall.

The comedic plot of the play by Larry Shue revolves around a shy man named Charlie who, while pretending not to understand English, uncovers a sinister plot.

“Foreigner,” is directed by Kevin Barrett of Concord and stars Tim Benner of Hooksett, Chad Boutin of Manchester, Elizabeth Leach of Manchester, Sean Racine of Manchester, Daniel Scheys of Manchester, Gary Trahan of Manchester and Barbara Webb of Plymouth.

For more information about tickets, visit


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