Every year since Reach the Beach Relay began, only one competitor has been at the starting line every time.
That man is Jack McManus of Danvers, who was honored before this year’s race as the sole athlete to take part in all 15 events.
“They gave me a jacket that says ‘3,000 Mile Club’,” said the 59-year old McManus. “It’s pretty cool — and I’m the only one who has one of them.”
The 3,000 miles refers to the 200-mile long Reach The Beach Relay that McManus has done 15 times and counting.
McManus, who grew up in Woburn before moving to Danvers 20 years ago, originally began running to lose weight. What he found was that he not only shed the extra pounds, but found an added bonus.
“I was gaining a lot of weight, getting fat. I had just met my girlfriend, who is now my wife,” said McManus. “I not only started losing weight and getting in shape, but really enjoyed running.”
The Reach The Beach Relay is a grueling event which requires a lot of stamina. This year, the 15th annual event was held Sept. 13-14 beginning at Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire and passing through 30 cities and towns before ending at Hampton Beach. Teams made up of both novice and veteran runners run 200 miles over more than 24 hours, starting in the mountains and ending at the ocean.
“We didn’t do as well as usual this year,” said McManus. “In fact, the 33-hour finish is the slowest we’ve ever done; usually we do it between 28-30 hours. I was disappointed with how slow we were, and I told the guys we have to all come back in shape next year. I’ll be 60, which is a big one for me.”
When McManus competed in the first relay back in 1999, it began at Loon Mountain. The event grew from a small race to one that now attracts over 5,500 athletes from all over the country.