Feaster Five Race Unites Families And Draws Celebrities to Andover

For most people, the most strenuous activity of Thanksgiving is the walk from the kitchen to the couch en route to watch the NFL football game. Or it could be the effort of lifting one’s arms to fill up yet another plate with slabs of turkey, heaping servings of mashed potatoes or the other temptations of Thanksgiving Day. However, when families in the Merrimack Valley region awake on Thanksgiving morning this year, many will head to Andover, ready to kick off the holiday with a grueling run. For more than 20 years, the Feaster Five Road Race has been as much of a holiday tradition to locals as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Over 7,000 runners, walkers and the occasional dog flock to Andover’s Shawsheen Center at the crack of dawn. Alex Cope ’09, a past participant in the race, commented, “The most memorable moment for me was being in the huge crowd amassing at the start and wading slowly to the actual line before taking off.” Between 8 and 8:30 a.m., runners set off from the starting line, ready to hit the course that weaves through the streets of Andover. In 2007, 21-year-old Swede Tobias Lundgren crossed the finish line in under 26 minutes to take first. On the other extreme, groups of moms pushing baby strollers crossed the first mile mark together. From time to time, the Feaster Five even attracts some attention from the Hollywood tabloids. In 2004, thousands of runners and photographers craned their necks, hoping to get a glimpse of Matt Damon, who joined his father and brother on the Andover course. Damon completed the 5K race in a very respectable 23:57. So what draws so many runners to Andover for the Feaster Five? The apple pie given out to each finisher of the race certainly attracts some. However, for many, the impact of the Feaster Five stretches even deeper. James Hamilton ’12 reflected, “While it’s hard to get up on Thanksgiving morning when it’s cold, the race is a huge family bonding event that makes the holiday all the more exciting for us.”