(17-Nov) -- Newly-crowned national 5-K champions Weini Kelati and Drew Hunter are the top entrants for the 85th Manchester Road Race, America's most prestigious Thanksgiving Day race, scheduled for Thursday, November 25, in Manchester, Connecticut. The race returns to an in-person format on the streets of Manchester after being held virtually in 2020 due to the pandemic.
PHOTO: Weini Kelati winning the 2021 USATF 5-K title at the Abbott Dash for the Finish 5-K in New York City on November 6 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
Kelati, 24, the 2019 NCAA 10,000m and cross country champion for the University of New Mexico, routed a strong field at the USATF 5-K Championships hosted by the Abbott Dash to the Finish 5-K in New York City on November 6. Launching to the front right from the start in front of the United Nations, Kelati ran a course record 15:18 and won by 27 seconds.
"The confidence comes based on my training," Kelati told Race Results Weekly just after her victory. "I've been working out with the guys, so if I can keep up with them, why not just push it from the beginning? That's what I did."
Hunter, 24, won in a close sprint finish over Matthew Centrowitz and Sydney Gidabuday. All three men were timed in 13:53. For Hunter, who struggled with injuries over the last 18 months, it was his second national title and his first on the roads.
PHOTO: Drew Hunter winning the 2021 USATF 5-K title at the Abbott Dash for the Finish 5-K in New York City on November 6 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
"I'm happy not to be a spectator in the race and I'm happy to compete for the win, and come out on top," said Hunter after the race. "I think that's kind of my goal this year; just remember how to win. I ran for the win and it worked out well."
Also confirmed by Manchester organizers on the women's side are two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya and all-around road racer Monicah Ngige. Kiplagat, who just turned 42, was most recently second at the first fall edition of the Boston Marathon, while Ngige was fourth in her debut at the distance. Kiplagat won the Manchester Road Race in 2019.
On the men's side two-time Falmouth Road Race winner Ben Flanagan, a Canadian, is also entered as are veterans Sam Chelanga and Donn Cabral. Chelanga was the Manchester champion in 2013, and Cabral --who grew up in nearby Glastonbury-- was second in 2015.
"Our elite runner coordinator, Jim Harvey, has done a brilliant job of assembling excellent fields of elite runners for our return to Main Street and the celebration of our 85th Manchester Road Race this year," said Dr. Tris Carta, President of the Manchester Road Race Committee. "It is going to be a very exciting road race."
Organizers report about 7500 entries so far, and entries remain open at https://www.manchesterroadrace.com/