|Austin Kilgore, 5, of Londonderry and his mother, Lisa, cross the|
finish line at last year’s Millennium Mile race in Londonderry. COURTESY PHOTO
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- A longtime holiday season tradition for area residents, this year’s Millennium Mile road race for the first time will also offer walkers and runners the chance to give back to their local school district. John Mortimer, director and founder of the Millennium Mile, announced recently that he would donate the proceeds back to the respective Londonderry school of every student and teacher registering for the one-mile race.
“The more students, parents, and teachers that participate from each school, the more money the race will donate,” Mortimer said.
A Londonderry native, Mortimer, 34, recently moved back to New Hampshire and founded his new events-management business, Millennium Running, after many years spent coaching track and cross-country at Harvard, Boston College and, most recently, the University of Kentucky.
“Shortly after I moved back, I learned through the local news that the Londonderry School District is facing over $200,000 in budget cuts,” said the former University of Michigan All-American running star. “It’s really tough this year. We wanted to give back to the kids in the area as much as we can.” Having attended Londonderry schools from kindergarten through high school, it’s a cause near and dear to his heart.
Now living in Grantham with his wife, Jennifer, an elementary school teacher, and 1-year-old son, Jack, Mortimer said his wife’s school recently held its own benefit road race, which inspired him to give this year’s Millennium Mile its latest twist.
“Principals can e-mail parents, guardians and families asking them to sign up, with all the money going right back to their children’s school,” Mortimer said. “It’s a great incentive.”
“It’s a way for people of all ages to start off their New Year’s resolution right and help the school district at the same time,” he added.
In previous years, race participants have ranged in age from 2 to 82. Some of them have walked the entire way, while others have run for about four minutes. But the race just gets bigger and bigger ever year, Mortimer said.
Londonderry’s first Millennium Mile race was held, fittingly enough, on the last day of the Millennium: Dec. 31, 1999, after Mortimer and a few friends, all professional runners, pondered a unique way to ring in the New Year. Around 120 runners participated, making a mad dash from Londonderry High School toward Mack’s Apples. Since then, up to 800 runners have participated in the race each year. This year, Mortimer hopes to see upwards of 1,000 walkers and runners making their way down Mammoth Road on New Year’s Day.
Over the past six years, the Millennium Mile has also included a scholarship, in honor of Mortimer’s parents, Jack and June. The scholarship is given to one deserving high school senior each year.
The 12th annual Millennium Mile, co-sponsored by the Union Leader Charitable Fund, will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 1. Honors will be given to all age groups, with medals for the fastest boys and girls for each age 12 and under.
Londonderry Superintendent Nathan Greenberg said information on the race is being sent to parents and guardians via e-mail, as well as sent home with each student.
For more information, or to register for the race, visit www. millenniummile.org.