Johnson, Garfield capture BASC Santa Claus Shuffle wins
MANCHESTER - There were reindeer and elves, cookies and cocoa.
Mrs. Claus was there and Santa was, too.
Boy, was he there.
In the jolliest New Hampshire road race of the year, 3,000 costumed Santas raced through the heart of Manchester Saturday in the second annual Santa Claus Shuffle which served as a warm-up for the Queen City's Spirit of New Hampshire Christmas Parade.
Hundreds of Santas "Ho, ho, hoed!" their way past the starting line and ran down Elm St. for about a mile and a half before making a short loop and returning down the main street, which iced slightly from the afternoon's light snow, to the finish line.
Kevin Johnson of West Lebanon was the first Santa to break the tape. Lucy Garfield of Hanover was the first Mrs. Santa.
"This race was a lot of fun," said Johnson, 24, whose 14:51.95 shattered the race record of 16:30. "The fans lined the course and their cheering was great, a big motivation."
Johnson, who is part of the Competitive Post-collegiate Western Mass. team which won this year's Chicago Marathon team competition, also won the Bedford Rotary 12K in May.
Garfield ("like the cat but I don't eat as much lasagna," she joked) is 22 years-old and ran competitively at the University of New Hampshire. She finished in 18:25.51.
"My goal was a 6:30 pace, but it turned out much faster than that," she said. "I'm happy."
The Shuffle was the the seventh and final race in the MVP Health Care Millennium Racing Series, and just about every running Santa was happy as hundreds and hundreds of smiles lit up the finish area as darkness fell on the Queen City.
"We want all of our events to be about fitness, wellness and fun," said race director John Mortimer. "The Santa suits epitomize the fun. This is the largest race we've done. I don't know if it was a Santa-costume world record, but it was an amazing sight to see."
Red-costumed Santas flooded Elm St., making their way to the finish line for more than an hour after the race's start.
Approximately 600 children, some as young as three- and four-years-old, participated in the Elf race prior to the Shuffle. It appeared many weren't interested in the finishing Santas Saturday. It was the Santa who comes to Manchester on Dec. 25 that they were thinking about.
Top 10 men
1. Kevin Johnson, West Lebanon, 14:521.95; 2. Lucas Pozzetta, Merrimack, 16:34.85; 3. Josh Leahy, Londonderry, 16:49.47; 4. Nicholas Leach, Londonderry, 16:50.38; 5. Jason Porter, Bedford, 17:12.05; 6. Jeremy Huckins, West Lebano, 17:29.95; 7. Warren Bartlett, Loudon, 17:32.16; 8. RJ Letendre, Rollinsford, 17:35; 17:34.61; 9. Shawn Freligh, Sandown, 17:48.13; 10. Richard Hostler, Merrimack, 17:54.51.
Top 10 women
1. (14) Lucy Garfield, Hanover, 18:25.51; 2. (15) Colleen Ledbetter, Derry, 18:26.55; 3. (16) Melissa Murray, Newfields, 18:28.57; 4. (17) Stephanie Burnham, Goffstown, 18:33.80; 5. (20) Libby Gendron, Manchester, 18:56.28; 6. (22) Rachel York, Pembroke, 18:57.77; 7. (23) Karin Biskovich, Amherst, 19:04.98; 8. (24) Freja Pelich, Concord, 19:09.81; 9. (27) Sara Muller, Derry, 19:10.45; 10. (28) Summer Cook, Madbury, 19:13.01.
Complete results available at millenniumrunning.com