Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving, like all holidays, is a day steeped in family tradition.  For some Thanksgiving is about visiting with friends or family you may not often see; for others football and the food on the table that make their Thanksgiving special.  But, in my family nothing says Thanksgiving more than the Manchester Road Race in Manchester, CT.

The start of the Manchester Road Race as thousands of runners make their way over the line.

Our family’s Thanksgiving tradition began in 1986 when my father ran his first Manchester Road Race.  At the time of my father’s first race neither my brother or I were old enough to run with him, but we stood on the sidelines with my mother cheering the runners and anxiously a waiting a glimpse of my father as he would cross the finish line.  It was a thrilling event to be a part of even as a spectator.  With so much energy in the air it was hard not to be completely infected with the exhilaration of so many people celebrating the effort of thousands of runners compounded by the joy of Thanksgiving morning.

Soon, we began to ask when we would be old enough to run on Thanksgiving like Dad.  As it turned out the magic age was 10.  So, on the Thanksgiving of my 10th year I ran my first Manchester Road Race with my dad.  It was one of the most challenging running experiences of my life, but my Dad stayed with me the whole race and together we crossed the finish line.  After that first run I didn’t work up the courage to face the Manchester Road Race again until I was 16.  But, during those intervening years my father found a new running partner.

Three years after my inaugural run my brother turned 10 and picked up with my dad where I had left off.  That year my dad found in my brother a running partner who held this Thanksgiving tradition with the same tenacity he did.  No matter how challenging my brother found the course or how in-climate the weather, my dad and my brother were running the Manchester Road Race together.  Then, three years after my brother’s first run I rejoined them out on the course.  This had truly become a family affair.

Me, my husband Evan, my father Peter, and my brother John in 2009 minutes before the start of the 73rd Manchester Road Race.

This year will mark my father’s 26th, my brother’s 19th, and my 16th consecutive year running the Manchester Road Race.  My husband has even gotten involved in this Leibfried family tradition and this year will mark his 10th consecutive year running as a part of the family.  Some years we run fast, other years we run slow, and some years we walk our way to the finish.  The goal is always to participate

There isn’t a Thanksgiving I can remember without the Manchester Road Race. No  matter if it rains, snows, is the coldest Thanksgiving on record….we’ve seen them all!

For my family it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the Manchester Road Race. For us it is the tradition that defines Thanksgiving Day.

Do you or does a member of your family participate in a Thanksgiving Day race?  Want to see if there is a race in your area and start a Thanksgiving Day race tradition of your own?  Check here.

What traditions define Thanksgiving Day for you and your family?   Please leave your thoughts and comments below!

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