EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 16, 2012

Feaster Five is the best

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Starting about a decade ago, I’ve written a Feaster Five column about “reasons” you should run or walk the annual road race in downtown Andover on Thanksgiving morning.

At 15 years, I wrote 15 reasons. Pretty pithy of me, huh?

Well, Thursday will be the 25th annual race and I my annual Feaster Five column, which was printed in the commemorative race program last week.

And yes, I came up with 25 reasons. And you know what? It was easy.

From the apple pie, to the kids’ race, to abundance of refreshments, to the music, to the charities (MV YMCA and Ironstone Farm), to red-hot long-sleeve tech T-shirt, to the “shorter” 3.1 mile course, to Billy and Joannie (no last names needed), to the inspirational Dick and Rick Hoyt ... there are more than an abundance of reasons to be in Andover on Thursday morning.

If you’ve lived in this area or read this newspaper the last three decades, you can pretty much gather that I am a sports junkee. I love competition and I enjoy seeing others try to win.

While this event in Andover is different -- it’s not Bourbon Street, one of my favorite sports trips -- and not quite the “competition” I enjoy following in the billion dollar pro sports enterprise, this ranks as one of my favorite events of the year.

If you have run, walked or watched this race/walk even once the last two decades, you understand what I mean. The feeling you get when you park the car, even in the bitter cold, is one you feel lucky to get.

Bodies are running by. Dogs are barking (lots of dogs ... on leashes of course). Kids are edgy (it’s early!). Music is blaring. And hearts are beating twice as fast as normal.

Basically, excitement is in the air. Sure, this is a good chunk of nervous energy about the running/surviving. But most of the excitement is due to family.

Almost everybody is at the race with somebody they are either related to by blood or by love.

In my book, it doesn’t get better than Thanksgiving. Race, religion and social class don’t matter on this day.

It’s really the one day we try, some harder than others, to be thankful for what we have.

Dave McGillivray and the Merrimack Valley Striders have got this event going like a fine-oiled machine. By 10:30 a.m., some two hours after the start, 10,000 people have magically disappeared.

If you are in the neighborhood on Thursday, my advice is to check it out.

As for next year, I’ve already figured out my 26th reason why the Feaster Five is the best. But you’ll have to wait about 52 weeks for that one.

Happy Thanksgiving.

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.

Feaster Five store now on-line You not only can go on-line to www.feasterfive to pre-register, but you can also go to the Feaster Five Store, where you can purchase hats, shirts, hand-warmers, mugs, etc.