Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Guest Article...The Manchester Road Race - Cork Connection With Famous Race

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Guest Article...The Manchester Road Race - Cork Connection With Famous Race

Today is of course the Thanksgiving Holiday in the United States. There are many races on today in the US as a result and one of the most famous is the Manchester Road Race in Connecticut. The following article was written by John Walshe of Ballycotton about an Irish connection with the event.


The fourth Thursday of November is known as Thanksgiving Day across the United States of America and is a national holiday. Along with the traditional roast turkey dinner, the day is marked by a number of long-established sporting events, including some of the oldest road races in the world.

One such event takes place in Manchester, Connecticut, and will today celebrate its 78th anniversary. Irish runners have played their part in the cherished roll of honour associated with this famous race, amongst them Corkman Mark Carroll. 

In connection with the 2011 75th anniversary race, a 176 page full-colour publication entitled ‘The Manchester Road Race: A Seventy-Five Year Celebration’ was published and the heading on page 158 honoured Carroll and his American-born wife, Amy Rudolph – it simply refers to the couple as “Mr & Mrs Road Race.” The Olympians, who married in 2005, have a combined total of seven Thanksgiving Day victories to their credit over the 4.748-mile route which has been used since the inaugural event began way back in 1927. Mark’s victories came in 1998 and 2000, the latter occasion also seeing Amy taking her inaugural title. His time on both occasions was 21:49 and between 1996 and 2010, Carroll could also boast of three second place finishes and was always a contender for top honours. After finishing runner-up in the two previous races, Carroll’s victory in 1998 in the drenching rain saw him hold off Brian Baker of the United States and Kenyan runners Paul Mwangi and Daniel Kihara to take the coveted title by a margin of 13 seconds. Two years later, it was a much closer affair. Three elite runners – Carroll, Janko Bensa of Yugoslavia and Mohamaed Amyn of Morocco – battled down Main Street with Bensa marginally ahead but the Corkman responded with a final burst of speed with 60 metres left to win again as just two seconds covered the top three.

Carroll’s wife, Amy, a native of Kane in Pennsylvania, has a more impressive record in the race. She has notched up a total of five victories from 14 starts, along with five second places and two thirds. In 2002 she finished 22nd overall in a time of 24:25, the highest ever place by a female runner. Carroll and Rudolp both attended Providence College and other former Providence runners to feature on the Manchester honour list include John Treacy, winner in 1979 (the year he won the second of his two World Cross-Country titles). His time on that occasion of 21:26 would stand for 17 years and second that day was the winner’s brother Ray, a former member of Leevale.

Martin Fagan is the most recent Irish winner, his time of 21:41 six years ago securing the title to add to his second place in 2007. Waterford man David McCarthy - another Providence athlete - maintained the strong Irish connection in 2010 when taking third position in 21:45.

From humble beginnings in 1927 when just 12 runners took part to today’s massive event which now sees entries capped at a phenomenal 15,000, the Manchester Thanksgiving Day Road Race is now one of New England's premier sporting events.

Former Boston Marathon winner Amby Burfoot, now Editor-at-Large for Runner’s World, won the event on nine occasions in the 1960s and 70s but probably just as impressive is his record of running the race every year for the past 51 years! Now aged 68, no doubt he will continue for a few years yet and will be in the line-up again this time along with Dennis McCormack who is going for his 50th consecutive Manchester race.  

For Mark Carroll from Knocknaheeny, who is still Irish record holder for the 3000 metres with his 7:30.36 from 1999, the race will always invoke special memories: “Thanksgiving means Manchester for us,” he says of the affection it holds for both himself and his wife. “We are so thankful for the friendships we have forged there,” added Amy, “it is a race that not only gives to the running community, but to the community as a whole. Everyone has been so wonderful to us and our hearts will always be in Manchester on Thanksgiving Day.”

No comments: