Mortimer's group to direct Manchester City Marathon
BEDFORD — Millennium Running will direct the Manchester City Marathon, powered by SNHU, this season.
“I truly believe the city of Manchester and the state of New Hampshire needs a marathon and we have that opportunity to help it be successful,” said John Mortimer, owner and founder of Millennium Running, in a press conference Thursday at his store off Route 101.
The announcement comes 15 days after Southern New Hampshire University announced its three-year partnership with the marathon as its title sponsor.
The 10th annual Manchester City Marathon, which includes the 26.2-mile marathon, the half marathon, relay and 5k races, will be held on Sunday, Nov. 6.
The addition of Millennium Running and SNHU is a major shot in the arm for the marathon, headed by its president Larry Gagnon, who approached Mortimer during the summer for help.
Registration numbers have been in decline since the 2014 marathon when the top two runners that year missed the turnaround and got lost with just 2.2 miles left in the race. They never finished the race. In 2014, there were 466 marathon runners, 714 half-marathon runners and 97 competitors in the marathon relay. Last year the numbers dropped dramatically to 199 marathon runners, 343 half-marathon runners and 67 relay competitors.
“The negative press of the course mishaps from 2014 negatively effected the event’s perception in the running community in 2015 and if the running numbers declined because of that, hopefully this is righting the ship,” said Mortimer. “Without great sponsorship and organization, the future of the marathon was definitely in jeopardy.”
Mortimer said the addition of SNHU was important because the marathon lost Anthem this year as its sponsor after a nine-year relationship. “They didn’t renew their sponsorship and it left them in a deficit financially,” said Mortimer. “SNHU was able to step up as a major title sponsor in a big way.”
Gregg Mazzola, vice president of Marketing and Student Recruitment for SNHU, is also an avid runner who averages 20 to 25 miles a week. “Running definitely adds to a healthy lifestyle and our goal at SNHU is to create a first-class event,” said Mazzola. “I can’t think of two people who can make that happen like John and Larry. We currently have a three-year partnership, but I absolutely see it growing well beyond that.”
Millennium Running now has 20 signature events and Mortimer will use them to begin building the marathon registration numbers.
“We have over 60,000 existing customers that run our races annually,” said Mortimer. “Our hope is that our existing running community will support this event. Marathoners will come to Manchester when we prove it’s a fantastic event, and I promise to do it.”