Sunday, October 16, 2016

Manchester City Marathon (USATF NE championships) preview

The 10th annual
"Manchester City Marathon, powered by SNHU” (  will serve as the USATF NE championship and the final race in the 7 race Grand Prix series.  The race starts and finishes at Veterans Park (889 Elm street, Manchester NH) at 8:50am on November 6.  The marathon distance has been contested in all of the Grand Prix series (1985-2015). This will be the third time that Manchester has been the championship.  Cape Cod (Falmouth MA) has hosted the championship twenty-two times.  Baystate (Lowell MA) hosted four times and Burlington (VT) once.  John Mortimer – Millennium Running owner notes “2016 marks the first time Millennium has been involved with the event and we are honored to host the USATF Grand Prix”!

The Central Mass Striders (CMS) hold the team record with an impressive 7:21:49 from 1996, that is an average time of 2:27:16 (5:37 pace). At the 1996 race CMS put four finishers in the top seven including a 1-2 finish by Craig Fram and Dave Dunham.  CMS has the most individual winners with six; GLRR and Whirlaway are tied with the second most individual champions with five.  Green Mountain Athletic Association (GMAA) took the team title in 2015.

Teams and individuals will be vying for $8400 in prize money.  Grand Prix titles will also be up for grabs.  On the men’s side the 50+, 60+ and 70+ GP titles have already been decided (with WRT, GLRR & NE65+ winning their respective categories).  BAA leads the way in the men’s open with four other teams capable of catching them.  CMS leads in the 40+ with BAA and WRT on 2 and 6 points back respectively.    On the women’s side only the 60+ team title has been decided with CMS winning.  The open is topped by Craft Concept Racing with four other teams with a possibility of catching the leader.  The 40+ and 50+ are both lead by WRT with CMS in second place, unlikely to make up the gap but anything can happen over the marathon distance.

Most of the Grand Prix individual titles are sewn up with the exceptions being Women’s open which is led by Rachel Sorna (HBK) with Heather Cappello (BAA) 9 points back.  Jan Holmquist (WRT) has a 10 point lead in the 70+, Anita Robboy (NSS) could tie with a win at the marathon.  Ken Goodin (GLRR) leads the 60-64 by 7 & 9 points respectively over Jamie Wilson (BAA) and Ken Snow (GCS).

Individual Grand Prix titles already settled:
Men’s open= Louis Serafini             HBK
M40-44 = Dave Dechellis               WRT        
M45-49 = Gregory Putnam            CMS       
M50-54 = Mike Cooney                 WRT
M55-59 = Robert Cipriano             SRR
M65-69 = Gordon MacFarland        CSU
M70+ = John Hackney                 GMAA

F40-44 = Diana Bowser                 CCR
F45-49 = Christin Doneski              WRT
F50-54 = Maria Servin                   WRT
F55-59 = Nancy Corsaro               WRT
F60-64 = Elizabeth Cooney            SRR
F65-69 = Mary Sharkey                 CMS

In addition there are 78 runners who have completed the first 6 races in the Grand Prix series.  If they complete the marathon they will earn the “Ironrunner” status and a highly sought after jacket that goes with it.

Keep in mind this is a “city” marathon.  Although there are plenty of parking locations there will be no parking on Elm Street.  Also be cognizant of where the marathon may block your path out of city post-race.  Elm St. will be closed from Bridge St. south to Granite St at all times.  Additionally, the Notre Dame Bridge (Bridge St. Bridge) is completely closed the entire time.

I previewed the course in two parts and have written up a breakdown of the course below.  I found the first half to be much more challenging than the second half.  That seemed strange since the amount of climb/descent was pretty even between both halves.  I suspect that the number of up/downs and the steepness of a couple of the downs made the first half more difficult.  The 6 mile stretch from 17.5 to 23.5 may be the best part of the course with a large portion on the rail trail and all of it featuring a steady downhill.

Manchester preview
 First half                                                                         
Second half

Start to mile 5

The first mile is flat as you head down Elm Street (enjoy the flat and no turns, it won’t last).  1 to 2 has 3 turns and a 70’ climb on Calef/Mitchel.  2-3 has 1 turn and a 150’ drop in ½ mile as you head down to the Merrimack River.  This downhill is jarring!  3-4 is almost all on the bike path along the River and is flat until the very end when you climb 40’ as you exit the bike path.  4-5 has 4 turns and a 50’ climb in the first ½ mile as you head up from the river and back on to Elm Street, this is followed by a 20’ drop to the 5 mile mark on Canal Street.

5 to 10 miles

5-6 miles is a straight shot that features a steady 50’ climb.  6-7 has 2 turns and continues to climb another 100’.  7-8 has 4 turns and starts with a steep 80’ climb in ½ of a mile then a 110’ drop to the entrance to Livingston Park.  8-9 has 4 turns and continues the drop with another 30’ of downhill over 4/10ths of a mile on dirt trail (Dorrs Pond Nature Trail), followed by a 70’ climb over the final ½ mile.  9-10 is straight on Belmont with a 50’ drop, there are also a couple of small “bumps” over this mile.

10 to 15 miles

10-11 has 4 turns with a 100’ climb in the first ¾ mile as you pass through Derryfield Park, followed by a 20’ drop as you exit the park.  11-12 has 1 turn, the first ½ mile has a 50’ drop on Mammoth road, and the next ¼ is flat followed by a 40’ climb in 1/10th of a mile (ouch).  12-13 has 1 turn, straight on Hanover then right on Elm street, there is a steady drop of 130’. At this point the half-marathon race turns left on Elm as the marathon turns right.  13-14 has 4 turns and drops 30’ as you head down West Bridge Street and cross the Merrimack River.  After crossing the River you climb 80’ from 13.5 to 14 miles.  14-15 has 2 turns in quiet neighborhoods as the climb continues with another 30’ from 14 to 14.3, after that it stays flat and then drops 40’ in the last half mile to the 15 mile mark.

15 to 20 miles (add 13 to the mileage on the graph to come up with the actual mileage)

15-16 miles features 7 turns.  There is a 40’ climb in the first 1/4m then a 120’ drop to the Piscataguog River.  16-17 has 3 turns and a tough little 50’ climb as you get onto the rail trail.  17-18 has 2 turns and a 50’ climb over ½ mile as you exit the rail trail.  18-19 is a straight shot of flat running.  19-20 has 2 turns and 40’ of steady drop on the dirt rail trail. 

 20 miles to the finish

20-21 continues on the dirt rail trail dropping 30’.  21-22 transitions to the paved rail trail dropping another 40’.  22-23 continues on the paved rail trail dropping 20’.  23-24 is flat with one turn (onto the Riverwalk).  24-25 has 3 turns and a 70’ climb in the first ¾ mile (the climb to Elm street will be tough).  25-finish has 2 turns (one may be a 180 or at best a very tight turn on the west side of the Merrimack River) 30’ of drop crossing the River then 30’ coming back over.  That final hill will hurt at just shy of 26 miles.

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