Feaster Five family growing

There have been two memorable engagements among the Feaster Five faithful over the years. 

Race director Dave McGillivray proposed to wife, Katie, back in 2002, while up on a huge crane at Brickstone Plaza. She said yes and the rest is history.

Well, there was another one on the podium before the 2014 race when Tim DiNicola, of North Andover, got on his knee to propose to eventual wife, Julie, before 10,000 runners and walkers.

Four years later, the DiNicolas, now living in Dunstable, Mass., have two children, Miles (3) and Anne (1). And yes, "Miles" was named after those increments of the Feaster Five.

"Julie started running in the race in 2009," said Tim. "I started in 2012. We love this race and always will."

They returned yesterday, despite the frigid temperatures, leaving their kids with one of the grandmothers.

Weather or not, Billy and Joannie are here

They are both going on two-plus decades of running the Feaster Five Road Race. Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit Samuelson, two of the greatest distance runners of their generation, annually make the trek to run the event, now 30 years and running.

"It's one of the best things I do," said Rodgers, who is now 70 years old and 43 years removed from his first Boston Marathon win in 1975.

"The Feaster Five is a celebration of our sport, family and health," said Rodgers. "Sure it's cold. But you deal with it. You dress warmly."

Benoit Samuelson stayed with the Licciardello family, which is synonymous with this race and the Merrimack Valley Striders, in North Andover.

"Joannie and her family are special people," said Lyn Licciardello. "We went to Burton's on Wednesday night for a great dinner. And then we were here first thing in the morning."

Benoit Samuelson is not stranger to cold and wind, being a Maine native. She was outstanding yesterday, running in 21:51, winning the women's 60-and-over division by four minutes.

"Cold? It wasn't too bad," she joked. "We've always loved coming here to Andover, being with so many great people, including Dave McGillivray."

Rodgers finished in 29:14.

Quote of the day

Feaster Five regular John Young, a noted high school math teacher and dwarf runner, gave some quick inspirational words before the race on the podium.

In referring to the chilly and windy conditions the 4,000 runners and walkers were about to deal with, he said: "Pain is inevitable but suffering is a choice."

First was memorable

Despite being a long-time Andover resident, Samantha Sheppard, 23, had never run the Feaster Five Road Race.

The 2017 Duke University graduate (mechanical engineering) decided recently that the 2018 race would be her first. Then the bone-chilling weather reports came.

"I did think about not running," said Sheppard, a software engineer in Denver, Colo. "But I decided to do it."

Sheppard ran it in a respectable 36:02. The two tears running down her face afterward had more to do with the frigid temperatures.

"My face got really cold," she said. "I'm glad I did it. It was definitely worth it."

Twenty percent of family

The Chopra family for Andover are Feaster Five regulars, usually numbering as many as 10 family members.

Due to the weather, Raj Chopra and son Niam, 19, were the lone representatives.

"It was so worth it," said Raj. "It was chilly, but this makes you feel alive. The sun was out. The wind wasn't too bad."

Miss Massachusetts stars

You're going to be hearing a lot from this young lady, 2018 Miss Massachusetts, Gabriela Taveras, who sang the national anthem before the start of the Feaster Five Road Race.

The Emmanuel College graduate, who was born and bred in Lawrence, was also the grand marshal of this year's race.

"I love singing. Love it!" said Taveras, a 2013 Central Catholic graduate, before the race. "I want to show people that our city has a lot to offer. We have a lot of people with talent who just need the opportunity to show it."

Director's report

Here are details from the 2018 Feaster Five via race director Dave McGillivray:

There were close to 4,000 who started the race, about half of those who registered.

A few runners ran the 5 mile course on their own, later merging with the 5K runners.

There were no medical issues at all to speak other than one young child in a baby jogger that was treated.

It actually was colder in Andover [11 degrees] than it was in February when McGillivray ran the marathon in Antarctica (18 degrees).

The four charities raised over $50,000.

Everything related to the race was removed and trucked away by 10:30 a.m., a Feaster Five record.

DMSE Sports season now over until the Boston Marathon in April.