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First NH Running Festival set for October

For years the Santa Fund Run has been a successful way to kick off The Telegraph’s Christmas charity, annually attracting between 500 and 800 runners.

This year it will be part of the New Hampshire Running Festival, a three-day event which could eventually make Nashua a weekend destination for runners throughout New England and beyond.

This year’s inaugural festival is scheduled for Oct. 18-20 and will kick off with a one-mile run on Friday. The Santa Fund race, with runners given the choice of competing at five or 10 kilometers, will be held on Saturday, with a half marathon scheduled for Sunday.

There will be special medals, Tri-Umph awards, given to runners who compete in all three races, as well as medals based on age and gender to competitors in the 5K, 10K and half marathon races.

Although all the details have yet to be finalized, most of the competition is expected to take place in or around the Mine Falls Park network of trails, with the YMCA of Greater Nashua, the financial beneficiary of the half marathon, as the hub of activity.

A health and fitness fair has been planned for Friday night at the YMCA with other supporting events taking place over the weekend.

The Telegraph has enlisted the services of Millennium Running to help organize and provide logistical support for the three-day event.

“You are always looking to not just run a race, but create an event,’’ said Millennium Running founder and owner John Mortimer. “I can see a three-day event like the New Hampshire Running Festival getting bigger and bigger each year.’’

What Mortimer likes in particular is the chance for entire families to get involved.

“The kids could run in the one miler on Friday,’’ Mortimer said, “then maybe Mom runs in the 10K on Saturday and Dad runs the half marathon on Sunday.’’

Mortimer, a former Londonderry High School standout who went on to become an All American at Michigan and accomplished professional runner, organized his first race in 1999, the Millennium Mile in Londonderry on New Year’s Day.

He saw the event expand from 100 runners the first year to over 1,600 in the 14th running of the race in 2013.

Mortimer continued to run the event during college coaching stints at Boston College and Kentucky before retiring from coach to form
Millennium Running in 2011.

The business had taken off, now employing six full-time employees. It runs 11 of its own events, including the recently completed Shamrock Shuffle in Manchester, with 3,000 participants. It provides logistical support, including timing and race management, to 61 other events.

Mortimer said some events become popular overnight, like the Snow Flake Shuffle in February in Bedford, that attracted 1,000 runners for is inaugural race.

For the Santa Claus Shuffle in mid-December in Manchester, over 3,000 racers competed in over 2,500 Santa Claus suits, which were part of the $30 entry fee.

The Shamrock event included a coupon for a free beer at participating restaurants and pubs in Manchester and through sponsorships with Portland Pie Company and Coca Cola free pizza and beverages are often part of a Millennium event.

“Last year we helped raise $137,000 for various charities,’’ Mortimer said.

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