|H.S. Yearbook photo, 1964|
I have been here before. Fifty-five times, in fact. Consecutively. Here are a few things I remember:
1963: In my first-ever road race, I was thrilled to be running a distance longer than the 3 miles of my high school cross country races, and impressed by the range of humanity lining up next to me--a few young kids, several hundred road-race veterans, a guy with one arm, a runner in his 60s (how old can you get?). I couldn’t believe the size of the crowds along the course, especially near the finish line.
1978: I stopped winning Manchester when World XC champ John Treacy broke the tape in 1978. I thought it was great that Manchester had leaped onto the world stage. Forty years later, John returned, and we had a great reunion.
|Treacy above; Eamonn Coghlan, below|
|At finish: "Yes I can."|
1998: On a rainy morning, I carried an umbrella to keep my wife comfortable on her 37th birthday. At our wedding three years earlier, I had promised to keep her “warm, dry, and well-fed.” It's been worth the little extra effort.
2001: I posed with longtime hero Charley "Doc" Robbins before the start of his 50th consecutive (and last) Manchester. Nowadays, I look forward every year to seeing his daughter, Barrie. She of course runs the race barefoot, as her father did.
2013: It was supposed to be a big celebration, my 51st Manchester in a row. Instead, I got sick with a weird microbiome disease that caused me to lose 13 lbs ... and even more strength and health. Basically, I was a wreck. Only the support of family and friends got me through the 5 miles that morning. Two months later, my body began to heal itself. I’ve been fine ever since.
|I needed an escort to guide me to the start.|
Fortunately, I had the best--family.
2011-2017: A highlight of recent Thanksgivings has been the annual visit from my one-and-only namesake, “Little Amby,” who will turn 9 in a couple of months. His dad runs Manchester every year.
2017: I talked Bernard Lagat into posing for a photo with my Manchester painter's cap, which I have been wearing since 2013. Each Thanksgiving, I cross off the previous year's total Manchesters finished, and add a new one. Lagat didn't come easy. He spent 5 minutes investigating the cap, inside and out, to make sure it had no sponsor logos that would compete with his Nike contract.