MANCHESTER, CONN. (24-Nov) — In chilly and sunny conditions, Weini Kelati (Under Armour) and Conner Mantz (Nike) won today’s 86th edition of the Manchester Road Race, New England’s largest “turkey trot.” In a solo run, Kelati successfully defended her 2021 title in 23:39 for the hilly, 4.748-mile course, well off of her course record of 22:55 set last year.
Mantz prevailed in a race which was both fast and tactical, breaking the tape on Main Street in 21:04, 12 seconds under Edward Cheserek’s previous course record set in 2018. Both athletes won $7000 in prize money in addition to various bonuses.
WEINI KELATI ON HER OWN
In a repeat of last year’s contest, Kelati simply ran away with the race today. The recently-crowned USATF 5 km road running champion hit the first mile hard in 4:38, and was already clear of the other elite women. Keying off the men around her, she stayed well within herself as she climbed the race’s big hill in the second mile, nabbing the $1000 “Queen of the Hill” prime just before the two-mile mark (just like she did last year).
Using the big downhill in the third mile to conserve energy, Kelati cruised the finish line a whopping 42 seconds ahead of second place Jessa Hanson (Verde Track Club). Third place went to Taylor Werner (Puma) in 24:27.
“As I said last year, I’m going to come back and race again if I stay healthy,” a smiling Kelati told reporters. “So, I’m here. It’s amazing to be here on Thanksgiving and celebrate with these people.” She added: “Every time I run here it just feels like, wow, those crowds are amazing.”
Kelati, 25, will go from the cold of Connecticut to the warmth of Honolulu for her next race, the Kalakaua Merrie Mile on Saturday, December 10. She’s never been to Hawaii before.
“I’m very excited,” Kelati said. “The first time I’m going to go to Hawaii. It just feels like a vacation for me, but with running.”
LATE-RACE MOVE FOR CONNER MANTZ CLINCHES THE WIN
Unlike Kelati, Mantz didn’t dispatch with his closest rivals until the final meters of the race. The two-time NCAA cross country champion for Brigham Young University was at the front of the lead pack of about ten men through the first mile (4:21), and didn’t surge for the “King of the Hill” prime in mile two, letting former Iowa State star, Wesley Kiptoo of Kenya (Hoka NAZ Elite), pick up that $1000 check.
At the race’s highest point, early in the third mile where the athletes turn left onto Porter Street, Mantz saw himself surrounded by a strong group and was working hard.
“It was a grind out there,” Mantz said. “I didn’t expect it to be that much of a battle. But with this field, there were a lot of Olympians and a lot of World Championships competitors. You know you’re going to get the best of the best.”
The descent of Porter Street was typically fast for this race (4:22 for the third mile). Hillary Bor (Hoka One One), Mantz, Kiptoo, Morgan Beadlescomb (adidas), and Andrew Colley (On Zap Fitness) were at the front. Kirubel Erassa soon joined up from behind, and those six athletes hit the four-mile mark together in 17:55, a sizzling 4:20 split.
Mantz, who made his marathon debut in Chicago last month, didn’t want to wait for the final uphill sprint on Main Street to battle it out, so he decided to go earlier. He accelerated around the final left turn from Porter to Main, and only Kiptoo was able to stay close. It looked like it would be a two-man race for the win.
“I did not expect to get away,” said Mantz, who also won a $2,000 course record bonus. “I was very surprised to be coming down the hill and having just Wesley and myself (there). And then I knew guys like Morgan Beadlescomb; he’s in that pack and he’s got a very strong final 400 meters. So, I had to push to the finish. I didn’t know how close he ended up to me.”
Beadlescomb, who was in sixth position on that final turn, rallied in the last 200 meters. Just before the top of the final hill before the finish line, Beadlescomb caught Kiptoo and nabbed second in 21:05, one second ahead of Kiptoo, in his Manchester debut.
Colley, who helped ensure the fast pace in the fourth mile, got fourth in 21:07. Bor, who could not go with Mantz’s surge, ended up fifth in 21:25. Every man in the top-5 broke Cheserek’s previous course record.
“I definitely played my cards as I expected,” said Beadlescomb, who was the 2022 NCAA Championships 5000m runner-up for Michigan State. “There were a lot of surges at different points. People were taking the lead and kind of not doing so with confidence. I knew when Conner went to the front he was going to keep it.” He added: “I think Conner just got out of my reach, but I was able to reel everybody else in.”
Well behind the leaders, 76-year-old Amby Burfoot completed the race for the 60th consecutive year, the most of anyone in history (he ran the official virtual edition of the race in 2020 when the in-person race was cancelled for the pandemic, but ran on the actual course). The former Runner’s World editor-in-chief who lives in Mystic, Conn., clocked 40:14, averaging an impressive 8:29 per mile.
“I was hoping for nine minutes,” he told Race Results Weekly before the race.
A total of 8,271 finished today’s race, up from 7,420 in 2021.
PHOTO: Conner Mantz wins the 2022 Manchester Road Race in a course record 21:04 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
PHOTO: Weini Kelati after winning the 2022 Manchester Road Race for the second consecutive year (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)