The Maple Leaf Half Marathon will occur on Saturday, Sept. 8, starting at 9 a.m.
After last year's race, the half marathon lost its title sponsor. That's when Maple Leaf Board Member Jamie Hathaway, and Jay's son, stepped in. Hathaway, along with friends and
"We had a funding hole and it didn't seem like we were filling it very quickly so we were looking for a replacement but couldn't come up with one," said Jamie Hathaway. "We had the idea to find a number of people to donate in pieces rather than someone to donate the large sum. Thinking that Dad's friends and family would be interested in honoring him, I thought this was a good way for Dad to help out the race once again and fill that funding hole. So what we did is we went out and started making phone calls and we raised the money very quickly. It wasn't just about Dad, it was finding a solution to our funding
For this year's race, the Maple Leaf is capping registration at 1,000 participants, said Dave Pardo, Race Organizer. With the amount of runners and walkers rising every year, Pardo is encouraging everyone to sign up now before they run out of space.
"We did 250 registrations in the last month last year, so people do wait," said Pardo. "This is trying to stimulate them to not wait until the day of. We are 25 percent ahead of where we were at this time last year."
More than anything the race organizers want people to remember that this is a local race, with over 40 percent of the revenue coming from local sponsors and 45 percent of the participants from Vermont. The 40 local sponsors help raise money that goes to over 20 local non-profit organizations, who do everything from man water stations to register runners to earn portions of the proceeds from the race.
The locally driven, locally supportive nature of the race was one of the appeals for Jay Hathaway, said Jamie Hathaway. It was one of the reasons the family continues to support the Maple Leaf Half Marathon.
"At the same time we celebrate Dad's memory, we're celebrating this community and giving back to the Lions Club," said Hathaway. "Dad loved Manchester and Dorset and the Northshire. He loved Vermont and to be able to have him remembered and be loved back is very important to us. It's a beautiful thing for my family. He celebrated this community by inviting people to participate in things like the Maple Leaf."
With the race now in its sixth year since the return, the Maple Leaf is looking to continue to improve every year. The race will once again start and finish at the Dana L. Thompson Rec Park and the course for both the Half Marathon and the 5K will loop throughout the Manchester area.
The Half Marathon course leaves the Rec Center and goes down Route 30 until you reach the Northshire Bookstore. The race then turns up Main Street until you reach the Mark Skinner Library, where participants will turn on West Road. At the end of West Road, the runners turn onto Route 30, which they follow until they turn on Aeolus Lane. They then turn onto North Road, onto Wind Hill, and then down onto Overlook Road back to North Road. The race then goes out on Route 7A before turning at Manchester Elementary Middle School back on to Route 30 and back to the Rec Park.
For the 5K, the course is simpler, going onto Route 30, turning on to School Street, and then head up Main Street toward Riley Rink. The race will then cut through the path behind Riley Rink back to the Rec.
"We are hoping to hit our limit," said Pardo of the big goal for this year's race. "We have been inching our way closer but we'd like to nail it this year." With the race now officially back on the map, Pardo and the other organizers are looking to continue to build the half marathon into a destination race in New England. It was a goal of Jay Hathaway's when he started the race back up, and it continues to be a goal of Pardo's and the other race organizers.
"My dad had said years ago when he brought back the race with Dave [Pardo] and others that it was their vision to make the Maple Leaf once again one of the premier races in the country," said Hathaway. "We are well on our way to making his vision and Dave [Pardo's] vision a reality."
Those interested in registering for the Maple Leaf Half Marathon, go to www.manchestervtmapleleaf.com or contact the Manchester and the Mountains Chamber of Commerce at 362-6313.