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Thanksgiving in Manchester will seem a little bit different, starting in 2023.

Jim Balcome, the longtime race director of the Manchester Road Race who famously announces that “This is Thanksgving in Manchester” when the starter’s gun is fired each year, will retire from the position that he has held for the past 43 years after this November’s race is held.

Balcome, 78, a retired guidance counselor and track coach at Rockville High School, was selected as the nation’s top road race director in 2019, and has led the MRR since 1979.

“Serving as the Race Director of the Manchester Road Race has been my second-full-time job for more than four decades,” Balcome said.  “I love the road race, and I loved every minute that I have spent doing this.  I am extremely grateful to all the wonderful runners, volunteers, sponsors and spectators who make ‘Thanksgiving in Manchester’ possible each year.”
A former recreational runner with the Manchester Striders Running Club who competed in the MRR for several years in the 1970s before being asked to lead it, Balcome has been widely praised for modernizing the road race and raising its profile and stature in the running community.

“There are not enough superlatives in the dictionary for me to adequately describe all the great work Jim Balcome has done as our race director, or what he means to the Manchester Road Race,” said Dr. Tris Carta, President of the Manchester Road Race Committee. “Jim’s superb organizational skills, tireless work ethic, ability to forge partnerships, and immense devotion to our race---and especially all the runners---has transformed the Manchester Road Race from a small regional event into the large and world-famous road race it is today,” Carta continued.

“Several years ago, Jim was voted the top road race director in the nation by his peers,” Carta added.  “That’s something everyone in Manchester has known for the past 43 years.  “Jim Balcome is the absolute best, and we are so grateful to him for his decades of devoted service. Although we’re delighted that he’ll be at the helm again this Thanksgiving, we are going to miss him terribly starting in 2023,” Carta said.

Balcome, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, said that he and his wife Joy intend to spend more time at their second home in Florida after he retires from the road race. “Although I will be stepping back a bit after the last runner crosses the finish line this Thanksgiving, the Manchester Road Race will always be a big part of my life and occupy a special place in my heart,” he said.

” Jim will forever be the ‘voice of the Manchester Road Race,” said Manchester Mayor Jay Moran. “On behalf of the Town of Manchester, all our citizens, and all of the runners and road race volunteers, I would like to thank Jim Balcome for being the best race director in the country! I wish Jim and his wife, Joy, a happy retirement.”

Carta said that an announcement about Balcome’s successor as race director will be made after this year’s road race is held.