Except for the mystery of how road race runners wound up off course, Market Square Day's temporary move to September was deemed a success.

Normally held in June, Market Square Day and the 10K race were moved because of uncertainty about the pandemic and limits on crowd size during the planning stages of the event.

"We were really pleased with the day. Moving it to September was a huge thing for us to do. We were happy with the attendance. The craftspeople and all the vendors seemed to have a good day and that's a good thing. The weather cooperated and we were pleased to be back out there doing what it is that we do," Pro Portsmouth Executive Director Barbara Massar told Seacoast Current.

Massar doesn't have an exact number for the crowd size but from her experience as Pro Portsmouth's long-time leader, she estimated it was half the usual crowd of 50,000-60,000 people.

The only disappointment of the day was runners in the Market Square Day 10K somehow winding up off course.

"We're aware of the issues that occurred. We're gathering information about what transpired and we'll advise all the race participants on how we're going to address their concern," Massar said. "Right now we appreciate everyone's understanding and patience as we talk to different people who were there and what they saw."

Massar couldn't say for sure someone was intentionally giving the runners bad directions two blocks from the start of the race.

"What we do know happened is that people took the worst possible first turn and we don't know why," Masser said, adding that she is hearing many different stories about what happened and is reluctant to say anything definitive.

"You literally cross Congress to Islington and make your way from there and for some reason some of the very fast runners sprinted off to the left and unfortunately that gave everyone the wrong impression," Masser said.

Masser said 200 runners were able to get back on course and complete the race.

"Everybody finished safe and sound and that makes me count it as a positive," Masser said.

The top five runners were:

  • A.J. Pratt, 23, of Bedford with a time of 39:48.
  • Mike McGuire, 56, of Stratham with a clock time of 41:24
  • Joseph Coughlan, 42, of Boston with a clock time of 41:35
  • Ben Middleton, 30, of Portsmouth with a clock time of 41:59
  • Jonathan Sandberg, 44, of Portsmouth with a clock time of 42:13
  • The top female runner was Jess Tiernan, 29, from Portsmouth with a clock time of 42:39.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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