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85th Manchester Road Race: What you need to know

From the racecourse to COVID-19 safety measures – here's what you need to know for the 2021 Manchester Road Race.
Credit: FOX61
Start line at the 2019 Manchester Road Race. The race was held virtually in 2020.

MANCHESTER, Conn. — The 85th Manchester Road Race (MRR) is almost here and runners from all over the country are lacing up their running shoes.

The race was forced to be held virtually in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But with vaccinations, and efforts made by the state and race officials, the race will happen in person for the 2021 race.

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Here's what you need to know:

How to Watch

The race will be held on Thanksgiving Day. 

FOX61 and CW20 will broadcast the race entirely. Fans who cannot make it out to Manchester on the day can watch it live on TV or stream it on FOX61.com, FOX61 News App, ROKU and Amazon Fire TV apps and on the FOX61 Youtube page from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. 

The race will be rebroadcast in its entirety on CW20 starting at 4 p.m. 

RELATED: Local businesses find themselves back in the running ahead of Manchester Road Race

Race Course 

Credit: FOX61

Main Street from Charter Oak St. to Center Street will be closed to traffic at 5:30 am. Police said the course will be closed to traffic at 9am. In addition, Exits 3 and 4 on Interstate 384 will be closed at the same time. The race course will reopen after the Manchester Police cruiser following the last runner has passed by. 

The race will start at 10 a.m. sharp. It will begin and end on Main Street at Oak Street. From there, runners will head onto Charter Oak Street where they will hit the first mile.

At the second mile, runners will head onto Highland Street before turning onto Porter Street where they will hit the third and fourth mile. 

The length of the course is 4.748 miles. 

COVID-19 Safety Measures

With COVID-19 still impacting the community, race officials have implemented safety measures.

Officials strongly urged everyone participating to be fully vaccinated before race day, which includes athletes, volunteers, and fans. 

Additionally, officials mandated that all of the elite runners, many of whom are coming from out of state, provide proof of vaccination. 

Masks must be worn at all of the MRR indoor events and on shuttle buses transporting runners and spectators to the race. 

The MRR canceled its indoor Spaghetti Supper and Charlie Robbins Luncheon this year due to the mask requirement. 

While masks are not required outdoors, race officials are asking runners, volunteers, and spectators to still wear masks and follow social distance protocols as much as possible at the race and all the associated events.

Elite Runners

Sam Chelanga, winner of the 2013 MRR, and Edna Kiplagat, who won the women's title at the 2019 race, will return this year.

Other world-class male athletes who have entered this year’s 4.748-mile Turkey Trot include Ben Flanagan, who won the Falmouth Road Race in August and finished eighth at the 2019 MRR; Drew Hunter, the 2019 USA indoor two-mile champion who won the national 5K road championship in New York City on Nov. 6; and Olympian Donn Cabral, who was second at the 2015 MRR and has had seven top-10 finishes in Manchester.

Cabral, a graduate of Glastonbury High School who was the NCAA champion in the steeplechase when he competed for Princeton, was the fastest runner (23:00) in last November’s Virtual Manchester Road Race.

Weini Kelati, who won the women’s national 5K road championship in New York City on Nov 6th with a time of 15:18, and Monicah Ngige, the fourth-place finisher at this year’s Boston Marathon who had a fourth-place finish here in 2018 (25:02), are also expected to make strong showings in the women’s race.

RELATED: 60 and 70-somethings all in step | “Running Amigos” ready to return to the Manchester Road Race

Blood Drive 

The Manchester Road Race (MRR) is holding the 35th Annual Ray Crothers Blood Drive the day after the race. 

The blood drive will be on Nov. 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the gymnasium at Manchester High School. Race officials said everyone who donates a pint of blood will receive a Manchester Road Race t-shirt.

Walk-in donors are welcome.  Appointments, which are encouraged, can be made by calling 1-800-733-2767, or online at the Red Cross website, www.redcrossblood.org.

Jennifer Glatz is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jglatz@fox61.com. 

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