An emotional family reunion at the Manchester Road Race

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MANCHESTER -- The late Ken Beyer was remembered Thanksgiving morning by his family and friends running the Manchester Road Race for the first time in his honor.

The Beyer family has souvenir programs, race bibs, and newspaper clippings that all date back more than 30 years.

“Thanksgiving just revolved around the race. I think the hierarchy was gratitude first, race second, turkey third,” said Erica Bullard, Ken’s daughter. Bullard reflects back on the several decades she cheered her father along on the race route.

"I think he was so thankful he was able to run it every year,” she said.

Ken took on each year as a new challenge trying to beat his own best time, then waiting eagerly for the list of finish times in the next day's newspaper. When he found it, he would save it.

“His last race last year he was 80 and he came in second in his age group and it was just so meaningful to him,” Erica said.

Beyer began his running during lunch breaks with his co-workers at United Technologies where he spent his entire career as an aeronautical engineer. A Navy Veteran he was no stranger to diligence and hard work.

“He would come to my door and get me up between 6 and 7 to let me know he was ready and I would pray for rain,” she remembers.

This year, Ken pushed his two daughters and grandchildren over the finish line in spirit.

“I certainly wish we could have done it with him, but we know he’s going to be running with us," said Erica. "He’ll be in our footsteps and in our hearts and probably in our ears yelling at us to run faster.”

One of his daughters came up from Maryland. The other traveled to Connecticut from California.

The family grew up in Wethersfield, Connecticut and say this race day reunion will be an emotional and exciting time for them.