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November 05. 2012 10:43PM

As alternative to NYC, local marathon drew rave reviews


Runners head down Elm Street as they close in on the finish line of the Manchester City Marathon and Half Marathon Sunday morning. (MARK BOLTON/UNION LEADER)
Pinkerton of Derry graduate Kate Cavanna-Dunham, who worked in Manhattan for the past five years, picked the New York City marathon for her first-ever 26.2-miler. She raised $3,500 for the Alzheimer's Association and banged out 40-50 miles per week during the most intense months of training.

On Friday, when the New York City Marathon was canceled, she was devastated.

"My heart absolutely sank," Cavanna-Dunham said. "I'd been training for so long. A lot of us had been raising money for charity. There was a feeling we had to get this done."

The Manchester City Marathon made it happen for Cavanna-Dunham and hundreds of runners who originally planned for a finish at Manhattan's Central Park. More than 400 runners were last-minute additions after Manchester extended its registration deadline to accommodate displaced New York City marathoners.

"I cannot tell you how much all of the New York runners appreciated this," said the 28-year-old Cavanna-Dunham, who recently moved from Hoboken, N.J., to Derry.

New Yorkers also gave the local economy an extra jolt over the weekend.

More than 60 runners made last-minute reservations at the Manchester Radisson Hotel, according to organizers. The sixth annual event featured more than 2,500 participants, including half-marathoners and relay team runners.

Sara Beaudry, director of marketing and public relations for Intown Manchester, had yet to gather hard data on the marathon's economic and overall impact - but she knew it was significant.

"Being downtown and watching the runners, it was definitely bustling," Beaudry said. "You could feel the excitement. There was such a positive vibe, and it shows how a community can really come together."

Nobody could have imagined the sixth annual MCM would receive such international attention. On Monday in the United Kingdom, readers of the London Evening Standard learned of the inspirational Adam Chataway, who ran six marathons on six continents in 29 days - all to raise money for charity in the honor of his late fiancee. Chataway had planned to finish his quest at the NYC Marathon, canceled as metropolitan area recovered storm-related devastation. So Chataway ran Manchester, in three hours, 34 minutes.

Race director Sarah Normand lauded the efforts of local authorities, the MCM board and more than 200 volunteers.

"It's a bittersweet story from what happened in New York and how we were able to help out, being able to fulfill the dreams of many runners," Normand said. "In the end, everything came together. We had great weather once again. Everyone seems to be happy. It's a great feeling. We couldn't have done this without the support of the whole community."

kgray@unionleader.com

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