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Despite storm, all systems go for Manchester Marathon

If held today, the Manchester City Marathon/Half Marathon might resemble an obstacle course, complete with logs and plenty of mud along the 26.2-mile route.

However, race officials have plenty of time to clean up before the sixth annual MCM, which begins Sunday morning (8:50) at Veterans Park on Elm Street. More than 2,000 participants are expected, and, once again, the weather will cooperate for runners and walkers. The forecast calls for sunshine and temperatures near 50 on race day.

Hurricane Sandy left behind some gnarly conditions - but nothing that organizers can't handle.

"We have been so lucky two years in a row. The snowstorm missed us by a week last year, and this time a hurricane came early," race director Sarah Normand said. "Knock on wood. We've never had rainy or bad weather. We had some cooler days, but, for the most part, runners enjoy that."

The Manchester City Marathon, which serves as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon, takes runners through the Millyard and out to the western edge of Lake Massabesic, among other scenic spots.

The marathon course no longer stretches through Bedford and Goffstown, an area that featured many twists and turns in years past. Last year, the marathon drew 391 finishers and the half marathon drew 1,208 finishers. Another 100-plus runners participated in the relay. Patrick Moulton of Pelham won the fifth MCM in 2 hours, 29 minutes and 31 seconds. Myriam Grenon of Longueuil, Quebec, was the women's champ at 2:59:56.

Participants can pick up their race packets and bib numbers Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Anthem Sports & Wellness Expo, Manchester Radisson Hotel on Elm Street. MCM VIP Bill Rodgers, former American record holder in the marathon, will be attending the free expo to meet with fans and participants. Rodgers won the Boston Marathon four times and also won the New York City Marathon four times. In 1975, he broke the American marathon record at Boston with a time of 2:09:55. He broke it again in 1979, trimming another 28 seconds off the record.

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