Online registration for Thanksgiving Day event will remain open until 10,000 entrants or 5 p.m. this Saturday (Nov. 20)

ANDOVER, Massachusetts — A pair of running legends – Joan Benoit Samuelson and Bill Rodgers – will join an expected record field of 10,000 participants in the upcoming Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day Road Race in Andover, Massachusetts, race organizers announced Monday.

Online registration (www.feasterfive.com) will continue until 5 p.m. this Saturday (Nov. 20) or until the field reaches 10,000 runners and walkers in the 5-mile and 5K races combined. Each finisher will receive a traditional apple pie.

New this year, race organizers have expanded the family division, awarding additional prizes to family teams of 10 or more celebrating Thanksgiving by running together.

Participants will have the opportunity to both hear from and run with Samuelson and Rodgers, who will be featured speakers at the Feaster Five Expo at the Merrimack Valley YMCA before lacing up their running shoes on Thanksgiving morning for the main event.

Rodgers, a former American marathon record holder best known for winning the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon four times each in the late 70s and early 80’s, still competes in races around the world and is a sought after speaker. He will present “Run for Your Life, Your Whole Life!” at the expo at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 23, following a book signing.

Samuelson, winner of the first women’s Olympic Marathon in 1984, is still breaking records and inspiring countless athletes. Her 2:47 at the Chicago Marathon last month not only set an age-group world record – she is 53 - but also made her the first woman to run a sub 2:50 marathon in five different decades. She will present “There is No Finish Line” at the expo at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24.

The third featured speaker this year is “Team Hoyt” – the inspirational team of father Dick and son Rick Hoyt, who has cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic. For 33 years, the pair has competed in some of the most grueling athletic events imaginable, including six Ironman triathlons and 28 Boston Marathons, with Dick pushing Rick in his wheelchair. Team Hoyt (www.teamhoyt.com) will tell their amazing story at the expo at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24. They also will take part in the race the following morning.

“We’re really proud of each of our featured speakers who will inspire you to be your best,” said Tom Licciardello of the host running club, the Merrimack Valley Striders. “These programs at the expo are great for the entire family, especially for children who will benefit from listening to these wonderful role models. And we’re so ecstatic to have Bill, Joanie and the Hoyts take part in the race as well. They will inspire with both their words and their actions.”

Other notables participating in or appearing at the race include Al Getler, publisher of the Eagle Tribune; Jill Foley of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care; Dan Roche of Channel 4; Steve Cooper of Channel 7; Barry Burbank of Channel 4; Gerry Callahan of sports radio WEEI; Tom Grilk, president of the Boston Athletic Association (BAA); and Nate Jenkins, a Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) Roads Scholar. The event also will feature 10-year-old Joey Grieve singing “America the Beautiful.” 

Runners may pick up their bib packet – including a tech t-shirt – next week at the Merrimack Valley YMCA, 165 Haverhill St., in Andover on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 22 and 23, from noon to 7, on Wed., Nov. 24, from noon to 6 p.m. and on Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 25, at Woodworth Motors in Andover from 7 to 8:15 a.m.

Featuring a variety of sponsors and vendors, the Feaster Five Expo will be held Nov. 22–24 in conjunction with on-site registration, bib number and t-shirt pick-up. In addition to the featured speakers, lectures on topics such as the advantages of the Mediterranean diet (6 p.m., Nov. 22, Room #4) to sports medicine and the runner (6 p.m., Nov. 23, #4) and lower back pain (6 p.m., Nov. 22, #1).

Hosted by the Merrimack Valley Striders and managed by DMSE Sports, both 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. near Brickstone Square on Main St. in Andover. Proceeds from the race will benefit the Merrimack Valley Hospice (www.homehealthvna.org) and Merrimack Valley YMCA (www.mvymca.org). 

Prizes for families who register 10 or more members 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. All eligible family teams will receive a gift certificate to Dunkin’ Donuts. 

Families who wish to participate register as individuals online at www.feasterfive.com before the race fills up or by Nov. 20 (whichever comes first) and then send an e-mail to dmse@dmsesports.com with their members’ names, ages, race/walk entered (5 mile, 5K, Kid's Fun Run) as well as the name and contact info (email, phone, address) of a designated team captain. Awards will go to the families with the most entrants. 

“The Feaster Five has really always been about family, fitness and fun, and this year is no exception as we expect more families running together than ever before,” Licciardello added. “I can’t think of a better way to get the Thanksgiving Day holiday started off right.”

The Feaster Five also provides holiday refreshments after the race and the traditional apple pie for all finishers. The race provides ample free parking and a glossy race program, courtesy of the Eagle-Tribune, for all entrants. 

The 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 Massachusetts’ 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.

This is the 23rd year for the race, one of New England’s largest road races. The Eagle-Tribune Publishing Company is the title sponsor of the event and Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare is the presenting sponsor. The gold sponsor is TD Bank, and silver sponsors include Trinity Emergency Medical Services, Eastern Bank, Holy Family Hospital, Mix 104.1, Table Talk Pies, Bagel Boy and Cedar’s. Bronze sponsors include Merrimack Valley Credit Union, 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, Nexamp Clean Energy Solutions, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Woodworth Chevrolet, Enterprise Bank, Smolak Farms and Dunkin’ Donuts. 

Volunteers are still 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, Inc. is a leader in sports event management, specializing in creating, marketing and producing mass participatory athletic events throughout the U.S. and abroad. McGillivray has produced or consulted on more than 900 mass-participatory athletic events throughout the world, including 23 Boston Marathons; the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K in Maine; the 2004 and 2008 USA Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials, the 1990 Triathlon World Championship, the 1998 Goodwill Games Triathlon, and the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. For more info, visit www.dmsesports.com