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Merriss Joins Pequot Race for Long Run

Weston's Ramsay Merriss will celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving. His tradition, however, at least in the morning, is becoming increasingly common among Fairfield County residents.

Merriss, 62, runs the Pequot Runners Thanksgiving Day rac e every year. The race started in 1978. So did Merriss. He will line up for the 33rd straight year when the race starts Thursday at 8:15 a.m. at the Wakeman Boys & Girls Club. "It's a fun race,'' Merriss says. "It's a good way to start the holiday."

Merriss started running when he was a student at Staples High School in the mid-1960s. He still runs six days a week, leaving his house at 4 a.m. before his morning commute to New York City. He also runs well. Earlier this year, won his division in the Weston 5K in 22:43, an average of 7:19 per mile. He was second in his age group at last year's Pequot race in 36:04. He's also a regular participant in the Westport Roadrunners Summer Series .

Merriss has witnessed the staggering growth of the Pequot race, which race director Jeff Palmer said could attract more than 5,000 runners this year. "I'm surprised there are so many people out there and how popular it has become,'' Merriss said. "The start is a zoo, but it's all right. Jeff and the Pequot runners put on a great race."

There were 630 runners with Merriss in the first race in 1978. The numbers have exploded, especially in the past few years, and his race strategy has also changed. "Very carefully,'' Merriss said when asked how he deals with the crowded start. "It's not a race you will run for time. Unless you're Ethiopian."

Runners can register the day of the race at the Wakeman Boys & Girls Club. Runners can also register online up until 3 p.m. Wednesday or in person at the club that evening.

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