Expo and Bib Pick up Nov. 20-22 at Andover/North Andover YMCA with 5K and 5-Mile races beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving

ANDOVER, Mass. – The annual Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day Road Race will feature a meet and greet session with running legends Bill Rodgers, Team Hoyt and John Young the day before the race on Nov. 22 at the Expo and Bib Pickup, race organizers announced today.

Considered the most popular American marathoner ever, Bill Rodgers is a former American record holder best known for winning the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon four times each in the mid to late 1970s. His appearance coincides with a resurgence of American marathoners on the world stage, including recent victories by Galen Rupp (Chicago) and Shalane Flanagan (New York) and medal-stand performances by Jordan Hasay at Boston and Chicago.

Team Hoyt (www.teamhoyt.com) is the inspirational team of father Dick and son Rick Hoyt, who has cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic. For 40 years, the pair has competed in some of the most grueling athletic events imaginable with Dick pushing Rick in his wheelchair. They will be joined by Bryan Lyons, another member of Team Hoyt.

John Young is a physically challenged marathon runner who has run more than 10 marathons, including the Boston and New York City marathons. In 2016, the math teacher from Salem became the first athlete with achondroplasia (the most common form of dwarfism) to complete an Ironman triathlon. "People say, 'I could never do a marathon,' and I say, ‘It’s because you don’t want to. Your will needs to be stronger than your won’t.' If you want to do a marathon, you will, guaranteed."

On Wednesday, Nov. 22, Rodgers will appear from noon to 2, and Young and Team Hoyt (Rick and Dick Hoyt and Bryan Lyons) will meet and greet from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Expo at the Andover/North Andover YMCA. Check the website for times http://www.feasterfive.com/about-the-race/number-pickup-and-expo/.

In addition, other VIPs who will take part in the Feaster Five include:

  • Becca Pizzi of Belmont - First American woman to complete World Marathon Challenge (7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents)  

  • Ruben Sanca of Lowell - 2012 U.S. Olympian at 5,000m

  • Adrienne Haslet-Davis - Boston Marathon bombing survivor and amputee

  • Tom Grilk - BAA Executive Director

  • Dave McGillivray - BAA Boston Marathon and Feaster Five Race Director who is taking part in the World Marathon Challenge in January

  • Dan Roche - WBZ Sports Anchor

  • Steve Cooper - WHDH News Reporter

  • Barry Burbank - WBZ Meteorologist

  • Gerry Callahan - WEEI Talk Show Host

  • Kirk Minihane – WEEI talk show host

Race organizers also have announced the Grand Marshal for the 2017 Feaster Five: Marine Corps Capt. Jeffrey Phaneuf. A North Andover native, he has competed in numerous Feaster Five Road Races along with his parents Chris and Donna Phaneuf and brothers Christopher and Drew. As with so many families in the area, the Feaster Five Road Race has been a Thanksgiving tradition for Jeff and his family. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from Harvard University and was deployed for a seven-month tour in Iraq last year. Capt. Phaneuf is presently stationed in San Diego.

Registration continues at www.feasterfive.com for the 30th edition of the popular, family-friendly race. The event, a Thanksgiving Day tradition for families and groups of friends across the region, will again provide an old-fashioned apple pie from Table Talk, a long-time New England favorite, to every finisher.

Hosted by the Merrimack Valley Striders (MVS) and managed by DMSE Sports, the Feaster Five Road Race’s 5-mile and 5K races will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the Kid’s Fun Run at 7:45 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23.  All three races – which welcome walkers as well – begin near Brickstone Square on Main St. in Andover at the corner of Route 133 and Route 28.

Proceeds from the race benefit the Merrimack Valley YMCAChallenge Unlimited at Ironstone FarmBellesini Academyand the Merrimack Valley Striders.

For those who intend to walk the course, the Feaster Five will continue to offer a dedicated ‘walker lane’ – a rarity for competitive road races. In previous years, about 3,000 participants preferred the safety of the walker lane, making it a popular new addition to the event.

The 2017 Feaster Five will again feature bands and music along the course, digital clocks posted at each mile, and holiday refreshments following the race.

To learn more about the race and to register, go to the race’s website at www.FeasterFive.com. Once runners or walkers have registered, they can update their details via the www.myevents.active.com link on the website.

Volunteers also are needed. Detailed information about how to sign up to help on race day can be found on the volunteer page at www.feasterfive.com/Volunteer or by e-mailing Crissy Licciardello at crissyL26@yahoo.com

In addition to Schneider Electric, the Feaster Five’s Presenting Sponsor, Whirlaway Sports Center also has returned as a Gold Level sponsor and will be joined by OrangeTheory Fitness and Mercedes-Benz of Burlington.

The non-profit Merrimack Valley Striders was founded in 1979 to encourage and enhance running at all levels – from beginners to seasoned marathoners to members who run to improve their health. Though founded in the Merrimack Valley north of Boston, the running club has members from as far away as California and Georgia. For additional information, visit www.mvsruns.com.

Founded by Dave McGillivray in 1981, DMSE Sports is a leader in sports event management, specializing in creating, marketing and producing mass participatory athletic events throughout the U.S. and abroad. In addition to the Feaster Five, DMSE manages the B.A.A. Boston Marathon, the TD Beach to Beacon in Maine, the New Balance Falmouth Road Race on Cape Cod, the Finish at the 50 at Patriot Place, the Bellin Run in Green Bay, Wis., and the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk, among others. For more info, visit www.dmsesports.com.