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November 12. 2012 6:12PM

Marathon milestone: A Manchester race to remember

The Manchester City Marathon always is a good race. This year, it was something special, as the race organizers did a spectacular job accommodating runners displaced from the New York City Marathon by Hurricane Sandy.

When word got out that New York City had canceled its marathon, runners began frantically looking for another race to run that weekend. Knowing that this would happen, the organizers of Manchester's marathon extended the registration deadline to 7 p.m. on the night before the race. It made a huge difference for the runners and the city.

Just minutes before 7 on Saturday night a week ago, 31-year-old Air Force Capt. Ben Payne from Denver signed up. He had rented a car and driven up that day from New York City, where he had planned to run. He just made it to Manchester in time. The next day, Payne won the marathon. He was to deploy to Afghanistan three days later.

Such drama would not have been possible had city marathon officials not taken pains to open the race to refugees from the Big Apple. In addition to that good work, they put on a stellar race that got rave reviews from runners, many of whom are used to running in much bigger, flashier marathons.

Kudos to the organizers, the volunteers and the runners who made this such a memorable race. Many runners who had never participated in this race before said they would return because it was so well-organized and enjoyable. Well, done, everyone.

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