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Marathoners detour from New York to run Manchester City Marathon in NH

MANCHESTER - Veterans Memorial Park on Elm Street became the center of the running world on Sunday, serving as the finish line for the Manchester City Marathon.

Runners from all over came to the Queen City after the New York City Marathon was cancelled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Top men's finisher Ben Payne, 31, was in New York getting ready for the race when Mayor Michael Bloomberg called off the event. The Florida native desperately wanted to get in a marathon, and soon.

"I'm deploying to Afghanistan in three days," the Air Force captain said, "I didn't want all my training to go to waste."

Payne got in a car and drove to Manchester, just making it in time.

Sarah Normand, the race director, said organizers kept the registrations open to allow for the huge influx of runners. The race logged 2,500 participants this year; more than 800 registered in the full marathon division for elite runners.

"That's more than doubled from last year," Normand said.

Some came all the way from the Netherlands and Ethiopia for the New York races, and instead headed to New Hampshire, she said. (See photo gallery at UnionLeader.com)

Gary Cattarin, 49, of Marblehead, Mass., has been in 18 marathons, and wanted Sunday to be his first New York City marathon.

"I was getting on a train Saturday morning when I found out," he said.

Cattarin knew about the Manchester race, and decided to make the switch, despite having to register at the last minute.

"They were very welcoming," he said of race organizers.

Julianne Quinn, 24, of Bedford, was on a bus headed into New York when she got a call that the race had been called off.

"I got a bus back to Boston, and then a ride here," she said.

Matt Bergenholtz, 31, of Connecticut, was also on his way to New York. He contacted the Manchester marathon organizers and found there was still time to take part.

"The race directors were really awesome about it," he said.

Jeffrey Hatch, 47, of Dover, decided to cancel his participation in the New York race Tuesday, even before Bloomberg called off the race.

"I didn't think it was right to be on Staten Island to start the race," he said, referring to those on the island who died during Hurricane Sandy.

dfisher@unionleader.com


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