Nancy Watkins wasn’t among the first to cross the finish line Sunday at the Clarence DeMar Marathon’s Super Seniors race, but winning wasn’t the point.
For several years, Watkins had joined her father, Wendell Pollock, as he participated in the 1.2-mile race, which he had done for four years prior to 2020, when the race was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Watkins said her father had loved the event and was excited to participate again this year.
But Pollock didn’t make it. He died on Sept. 15 at age 95. He was still represented at the race, though: Watkins walked this year in her father’s memory alongside Keene State College President Melinda Treadwell. Watkins wore a photo of him affixed to her jacket, and both women wore red capes similar to the ones Pollock had won for being the oldest participant.
“He was a very active person. He loved his golf and his bowling and his walking,” Watkins said after the race, which finished at the Cheshire County Historical Society. “He thought this would be the best thing to do.”
Pollock was a long-time employee of Keene State, where he served as business manager and chief operating officer for 35 years, Treadwell said. She noted he was “the energy” behind the Keene Endowment Association, which provides scholarships to Keene State students.
Treadwell said she had promised Pollock last year that she would complete the race with him in 2021. Though she didn’t technically get to keep that promise, she said she was honored to have the chance to walk in his memory.
“He was just a really driven and caring person,” Treadwell said. “The college owes him a great debt.”
Watkins and Treadwell were two out of hundreds of people who participated in the races held Sunday. The 43rd annual Clarence DeMar Marathon started in 1978 to honor the Olympic athlete and Boston Marathon winner for whom the races are named. More than 700 people had registered for the full and half marathons this year, which is down slightly from past years.
In addition to the Super Seniors and two marathons, the annual kids race was also part of the weekend festivities. In deference to the pandemic, it was held Saturday and finished at the Keene Family YMCA.
Those running in the full and half marathons crossed the finish line at Keene State, greeted only by a group of volunteers and approved vendors. But just outside the arch on Main Street, where the runners turned onto the Keene State campus, hundreds of supporters raised a din with cheers and cowbells. They could hear the voices of Race Director Alan Stroshine and longtime volunteer Ted McGreer welcome the runners via the public address system as they crossed the finish line.
Because of the pandemic, spectators were asked to cheer along the full marathon and half marathon routes and avoid Keene State. They turned out in force as the runners raced across the city, the full 26.2-mile marathon starting from Gilsum and the 13.1-mile half marathon from Surry Mountain Lake Beach. Runners at Surry Mountain were able to mingle with running legend Bill Rodgers, Saturday night’s keynote speaker at the traditional pasta dinner, who ran the half-marathon.
The top male and female runners in the full marathon were Conor Sleith of Waltham, Mass., and Anna Steinman, of Springfield, Mass. Sleith came in first overall with a time of 2:28:42, and Steinman’s time was 2:53:42. Kristen Ramey of Peterborough was the third female to cross the finish line.
In the half marathon, the top male and female runners in the half marathon were Thomas Paquette and Chloe Maleski, both of Keene, with times of 1:13:19 and 1:24:08 respectively. Charlie Herr of Spofford came in third overall and third place in the male category, while the second- and third-place female runners were Cara Weiner and Karen Jordan respectively, both from Keene.
Jack Glenn of Keene won the Super Seniors race, for participants 70 and older, with a record-setting time of 13:30. Like the marathon, the Super Seniors race includes 25 miles, but seniors get to log most of those miles on their own before race day, when they all come together to finish the last 1.2 miles. The DeMar Kids Marathon, which is for children in kindergarten through 5th grade, follows a similar set-up. This race was run on Saturday.
This year marked the ninth Super Seniors race, founded by Jean Hoffman, whose family funds the event. Hoffman aimed to encourage senior citizens to engage in physical activity, according to Molly Lane, who was organizing the activities at the Super Seniors finish line. She said Hoffman was concerned that seniors were being ignored when it came to fitness.
For Lane, Wendell Pollock was an example of someone who embodied the mission of the Super Seniors race and that he was enthusiastic about his participation in the event. She noted that even at 95 years old, he’d marked the race on his calendar and had been excited for the big day.
“Wendell is what we are. It’s encouraging people to stay active,” Lane said. “He received a cape for being the oldest finisher for two or three years. Wendell was the oldest, but he was never the last.”
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — If last year was nightmarish for the wedding business, this year is turning out more like a fairy tale.
After suffering a drastic downturn in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, weddings — and the businesses that cater to them — have come roaring back.
And that’s both good and bad.
While everyone including caterers and tent companies, event venues, florists, photographers and even portable-toilet providers all report they are receiving a flood of booking requests, the demand from pending nuptials is so great that vendors say they can’t take on any more business.
“We started turning away stuff in June,” said Brendon Blood, owner of Blood’s Catering and Party Rentals in White River Junction. “We have a big red banner on our website saying we are completely booked, but we are still getting two to three calls per day.”
The Upper Valley is a popular destination for weddings because of its rural beauty and venues that include luxury resorts, country inns and landscaped farms with remodeled post-and-beam barns, and the summer-to-fall wedding season plays a critical role in the local economy. But those that rely upon the event industry saw business slow to a trickle as the pandemic prevented the gathering of large groups of people.
“2019 was our busiest year ever, and then 2020 was almost nothing,” said Whitney Battis, who with her husband, Brent Battis, operates B&W Catering Co. in Perkinsville. “This year we have a wedding every weekend through October.”
A major reason for the bust-to-boom cycle is weddings canceled last year being rescheduled for this year, on top of the regular schedule of weddings planned for 2021. The rollover is pushing out bookings into 2022 and even beyond, wedding planners said.
“We’re almost fully booked for next year, and people are already booking for 2023 at this point,” said Emma Behrens, wedding coordinator at the Quechee Inn at Marshland Farm in Quechee. The inn has booked 17 weddings this season compared with eight last year and 15 the year before.
“It’s been one every weekend, sometimes two a weekend,” Behrens said.
A spot check of local town clerk offices for the issuance of marriage licenses confirms the jump in couples tying the knot this summer.
In Woodstock, where the Woodstock Inn & Resort is a popular destination for wedding ceremonies, the number of marriage licenses issued since the spring is 27, with another 11 either pending or awaiting to be returned for official recording, bringing the total to nearly 40 so far in 2021 compared with 27 for all of 2020.
Lebanon issued 61 marriage licenses between May 1 and Sept. 21, compared with 53 for the same period last year, and Hanover has issued 26 marriage licenses since May 1, which Hanover Assistant Town Clerk Donna Stender described as “pretty much average.”
And in Hartford, 52 marriage licenses have been issued so far this year, with another 15 licenses waiting to be returned, compared with 61 for all of 2020 and 124 for all of 2019, the last pre-pandemic year.
As a bellwether for marriage activity, Hartford, by virtue of being a heavily trafficked town on the border and at the intersection of Interstates 89 and 91, might be considered the Las Vegas of the Upper Valley.
“We are the first town that individuals from out of state come to to obtain their marriage licenses, and not all licenses issued have occurred in the town of Hartford,” noted Hartford Assistant Town Clerk Sherry West.
And for other arms of the wedding industry, like florists, business is blooming.
“Our wedding business is up three times what it normally is and still going strong into the fall,” said florist Michael Reed, owner of Roberts Flowers of Hanover. “We’ve had at least two weddings most weekends, and people are already booking for next summer, which is unusual for us.”
One difference, however, is that wedding parties are skewing smaller — although that doesn’t mean they are small, wedding planners said.
“The average is 125 to 150 guests. We’re not seeing so much the 175- to 200-guest parties,” said Tami Dowd, owner of Dowd’s Country Inn in Lyme.
For Dowd, the challenge this year and beyond is not lack of business — “a lot of our weekends are gone for 2022, and we already have 10 weddings booked for 2023,” she said — but the inability to find enough workers to staff an event, which requires 15 people — cooks, servers, bartenders — for a 130-guest wedding party.
That has forced Dowd to make some tough calls.
“We have had to close Latham House (the inn’s restaurant) this weekend and next because we need the staff for weddings,” she explained. “We’re moving people around, and everyone is pitching in.”
Quechee photographer Lyndsie Lord said the jam in weddings this summer is leading clients to grab any date available in order to pull together all the pieces — lodging, caterer, photographer, florist, officiant — involved in staging a wedding.
Saturday is the traditional wedding day, but Lord said this summer she was shooting weekday weddings, too. “A lot of people have ended up doing Wednesday and Friday weddings. I’ve had a wedding on Tuesday. Trying to find a date when everyone is available is hard,” she said.
The 37 weddings Lord is scheduled to shoot this year — she divides her business between New England and Tennessee — “is definitely the busiest year I’ve ever had.”
The pandemic has led more couples to hold their weddings outdoors, putting a demand on services like tent companies and portable-toilet providers.
Danielle Allard, who with her husband, Tyler Allard, runs Allard Portable Toilets in Charlestown, said they have “at a minimum” serviced 40 weddings this year “with seven more coming up.” They already have 10 weddings on their books for 2022.
“We are way beyond what we did in 2019,” she said.
Allard acknowledged, however, that their 2021 wedding total is inflated slightly by one special event: The couple’s own wedding in Walpole on Sept. 4 (which, like many of their customers’ ceremonies, was postponed from last October).
Finding a white portable toilet wasn’t a problem, naturally.
“We shared our wedding date with our customers,” she said.
This article is being shared by a partner in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.
The process to make New Hampshire’s secret list of police officers with credibility issues public is now underway, and the names of some officers on to so-called “Laurie list” could be made public for the first time by the end of this year.
A new law requires the state to make the list of police officers with potential credibility issues available to anyone to look at. But it also gives officers currently on the list a chance to contest their placement on the list before it goes public.
Letters from the state went out to current and formers officers on the list at the end of last week.
Geoffrey Ward with the Attorney General’s Office says, under a new state law, that notification starts a countdown for officers on the list.
“They have, depending on when they went on to the list, either 90 or 180 days to file a lawsuit challenging their placement on the list.”
Any officer who contests their placement on the list will not be made public until their lawsuit is resolved.
ANTRIM — Retired Antrim Fire Chief Marshall “Mike” Beauchamp was an “old-school firefighter,” ready to respond to a call day or night. That’s how Antrim Fire Chief Marshall Gale remembers his colleague, who died Sept. 22 at age 82.
Firefighters in this rural Hillsborough County community of about 2,800 residents sign up to be on call 24/7. And Beauchamp did it selflessly, Gale said Sunday, “willing to help and do anything for people.”
“I had the pleasure and the honor of serving with him. He was my mentor when I became chief,” Gale said. “You’d go a long ways to find someone who was so devoted, who had such a passion for the job.”
The two men share the same first name and, at one time, shared the same employers. While serving as firefighters for the town of Antrim, they also worked together at Monadnock Paper Mills in Bennington.
A funeral service for Beauchamp will be held Saturday, Oct. 2. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. with a procession from the main fire station at 82 Clinton Road to the Antrim Baptist Church at 85 Main St., where the community is invited to attend a 10:30 a.m. service.
Firefighters from area towns have been invited to march in the procession, led by an Antrim fire engine, Gale said. Spectators can line up along the route to pay tribute to the man who served the town’s fire department for 52 years, 26 of them as chief.
Beauchamp joined the department in 1966, becoming chief in 1988. He retired as chief in 2014 but continued to work as a firefighter and EMT until 2018, Gale said. He was instrumental in establishing the Antrim-Bennington Rescue Squad in 1973.
Margo Santoro, an EMT with the Stoddard Fire Department, said Beauchamp encouraged her to become an EMT “at the ripe old age of 51.” She recalled his dedication to the profession.
“He saw me on all the calls — he never missed one that I can remember back then,” Santoro said Sunday. “I followed his guidance and got my 15-year plaque this year. Mike was always there for us with his time, his support and his encouragement. He always made me feel like I could accomplish more than I imagined. We all loved him and appreciated his dedication and commitment.”
Born along with his twin, Marcia, in Cheboygan, Mich., on Jan. 29, 1939, Beauchamp moved with his family to Antrim in 1958, according to his obituary. He worked at Monadnock Paper Mills for 50 years.
Beauchamp leaves his wife, Joy, whom he met in Antrim and married in 1960. The couple had four children: Brenda Lee, Betsey Lyn (deceased), Barbra Joy and Bonnie Sue. He is also survived by seven siblings, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and other extended family.
Immediately after the church service on Oct. 2, the family will host a celebration of his life at the Hillsboro American Legion Post 59, according to his obituary. Beauchamp’s ashes will be interred at Maplewood Cemetery.