Online registration now open at www.FeasterFive.com; Entrants can choose a bib nickname by Oct. 30

ANDOVER, Massachusetts — This year’s Feaster Five Road Race on Thanksgiving Day – one of New England’s largest races – is allowing registrants who sign up before Oct. 30 to personalize their name, nickname, special message or team name on their bib. 

“We’ve already had a great response to this new, creative feature,” said Tom Licciardello of the race’s host running club, the Merrimack Valley Striders. “Runners are given 16 characters and some are definitely "characters" – XIORLI, Joe Cool, Go Dan, Krayola, 62 Years Young, Z-Money and Team Turkey are a few so far. It’s all done online – but must be done by Oct. 30.”

Registration for the Andover, Mass., road race is now open at www.FeasterFive.com. This is the 24th year for the Feaster Five, one of New England’s largest road races with a field close to 10,000 in 2010 and a free old-fashioned apple pie for finishers from Table Talk, a long-time New England favorite. 

Among the VIPs, Feaster Five will again welcome New England running icons Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Team Hoyt as featured runners at the 2011 Feaster Five Road Race with meet-and-greet opportunities at the Expo on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at the Merrimack Valley Y.

Rodgers is a four-time winner of the Boston Marathon, Samuelson is best known for taking home gold in the first women’s marathon at the 1984 Olympics, and father and son duo Dick and Rick Hoyt, who is a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, have completed more than 1,000 races, including marathons, duathlons, and triathlons. Other special guests include Nate Jenkins, a world-class marathoner, Barry Burbank and Dan Roche of WBZ-TV, Gerry Callahan of WEEI Sports Radio and Steve Cooper of WHDH-7. Triathlete John Young, a little person who has completed the last 23 Feaster Fives, will also take part in the race. 

Hosted by the Merrimack Valley Striders and managed by DMSE Sports (www.dmsesports.com), 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. All three races – which encourage walkers as well – begin near Brickstone Square on Main St. in Andover at the corner of Rt. 133 and Rt. 28. Proceeds from the race will benefit the Ironstone Farm and Merrimack Valley YMCA

The deadline to register online is Friday, Nov. 18, however, McGillivray advises runners to sign up soon to ensure a spot among the field limit of 10,000. Online registration is discounted if completed prior to Oct. 30. For example, registration for the 5k and 5-mile is discounted to $30 if register early, and $35 after Oct. 30. For those 12 and under it’s $20 if register early, $25 after Oct. 30. The Kids Fun Run is $5.

The 2011 race will continue to feature a family division contest, where families of 10 or more receive prizes. Families who wish to participate register as individuals online at www.FeasterFive.com before the race fills up or by Nov. 18, and then send an e-mail to dmse@dmsesports.com with their members’ names, ages, race/walk entered (5 mile, 5K, Kids Fun Run) as well as the name and contact info - email, phone and address - of a designated team captain. Last year, the McCabe/Danahy family of the greater Merrimack Valley won the 2010 Family Contest with 37 members.

Awards will go to the families with the most entrants. Prizes for families will include a Christmas tree and a spiral-sliced ham for the five largest family teams and a spiral-sliced ham for the next five teams. Dunkin’ Donuts gift certificates will also be given to the top 10 families who have 10 members or more. 

The Merrimack Valley Striders, a non-profit organization, 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 Florida and Arizona. For additional information, visit www.mvsruns.com.

The Feaster Five also features bands and music along the course, digital clocks posted at each mile, holiday refreshments after the race and, of course, the traditional Table Talk apple pie for all finishers. The race also provides ample free parking and a glossy race program, courtesy of the Eagle-Tribune. 

The Feaster Five Expo – featuring a variety of sponsors and vendors – will be held Nov. 21-23 at the Merrimack Valley Y, 165 Haverhill St., Andover, in conjunction with on-site registration, bib number and t-shirt pick-up.

The Eagle-Tribune Publishing Company is the title sponsor of the event and Smith & Nephew is the presenting sponsor. The gold sponsor is Pfizer and silver sponsors include Holy Family Hospital, Mix 104.1, Table Talk Pies, Bagel Boy and Tallman Eye, Kiwanis and Boston Partners Financial Group. Bronze sponsors include Merrimack Valley Credit Union, Seacoast Coca-Cola, Cape Cod Potato Chips, Burton’s Grill, Costa Fruit & Produce, Fuddruckers, Whirlaway Sports Center, Coldwell Banker, Brickstone Square, New England Eye and Facial Specialists, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Nexamp, Enterprise Bank, Cascadian Farm, Nature Crop, Larabar, Woodworth Motors, Enterprise Bank, Smolak Farms and Dunkin’ Donuts.

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

For additional information and to register, go to the race website at www.FeasterFive.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 more than 30 major road races per year, including the BAA Boston Marathon, the TD Bank Beach to Beacon in Maine, the Harvard Pilgrim 10K at Patriot Place, Run for the Dream in Williamsburg, Va., the Women's Half Marathon Series throughout the U.S., the Bellin Run in Green Bay, Wis., and the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk, among others. For more info, visit www.dmsesports.com.