Saturday will mark the second running of the “Little Manchester Road Race,” a version of the famed Manchester Road Race, but for children. A cooperation between the Manchester Road Race Committee and of West Hartford, over 500 youngsters are registered in this filled to capacity event.
Beginning at the Bennet Academy soccer fields at 10 a.m. the event will feature three distances, a ½ mile, a full mile, and a two mile races.
The race is open to children from four to twelve years old. Fleet Feet Sports owner and race organizer Stephanie Blozy said 40% of the participants were in the four to six year range, and another big chuck ages seven and eight. The expectation for the inaugural race last year was for maybe a couple of dozen participants, and they got over 525. This year, the registration filled up by the middle of October.
With the Manchester Road Race slated for Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2011, the Little Manchester Road Race serves as a chance for children to share their parents experience without being around the hustle of the larger event.
“The Big Manchester Road Race has so many people it isn't very kid friendly,” Blozy said, “the Little Manchester is the only pure kids race that I know of in Connecticut. A lot of parents aren't really sure their kids can run, so they sign them up for the ½ mile, but then see the kids want to continue and do the full mile or more.”
Henkel, Shop-Rite, and Fleet Feet Sports serve as co-sponsors of the event, and all finishers will receive medals and sweatshirts. There was no charge for registration.
“The price of admission,” said Blozy, “is that we are requesting two cans of food from each participant to be donated to the Manchester Food Bank. We are trying to teach kids to think of others, and to give back to the community.”
In addition to the race, Blozy said children will get to enjoy a post-race treat, the medals and sweatshirts, and frisbees commemorating the event. She also hinted that some very special guests would be dropping in at the event.
Fleet Feet Sports offered a training class called Zoomerangs, where children trained for the race by running laps, slowly building up their stamina and improving times. She said the children logged enough miles in the program to run from Connecticut to Colorado.
“Kids love to do the things their parents do,” she said, “our program breaks kids of the 'running as a punishment' mentality. Running is fun. It is empowering for them to finish a race and to have the confidence to do anything they set their mind to doing.”
The race will run concurrently with the Sports and Fitness Expo at the Bennet Academy. The Expo features seminars and exhibitors as well as a charity drive to recycle old shoes and sneakers.
“It's a cool new Thanksgiving tradition right here in Connecticut,” said Blozy, “and it has definitely started with a bang.”