For ‘Team Haneman,’ Thanksgiving Day race is all in the family

Cousins (from left) Elizabeth Patterson, Joanna Haneman, Chelsea Haneman, Megan (Haneman) Richerts, at the Thanksgiving Race. (Photo by Elizabeth Haneman)

     When it comes to running this Thursday, the Haneman family has plenty to be thankful for.

      That’s because “Team Haneman” has more than 20 members coming out for the Bucks County Roadrunners Club’s big Thanksgiving Day race on the streets in and around Core Creek Park, including family members, friends and the like. It’s like a high-speed holiday party.

      The Washington Crossing-based roster has been getting together to run the five-miler since the turn of the 21st century and more recently the 5K or 1-miler.

      A lot of the credit goes to Niel and Patricia Haneman, who love to compete but have an even greater affection for all the loved ones who show up on race day.

      Neil and fellow workers at the now closed Lockheed Martin plant in Newtown would run at lunchtime and eventually started looking for races to run. The T-Day race popped up on the radar.

      “By the time Thanksgiving 2001 rolled around, a buddy of mine from work picked out this race and I invited my two nephews (Patrick and Connor),” recalled Niel, who is still employed by Lockheed Martin as a senior manager. “And after we had everyone over for a big Thanksgiving dinner.

      “One thing led to another, we picked out the race again next year and once this thing started catching on as a thing to do, I started inviting people to the race before they would come over for dinner. That’s when it really got legs. We’ve been doing it every year since.”

      As the family has grown, so has the lineup of people to run.

      And the lineup is talented as well. The aforementioned nephew Patrick, who competed for Holy Ghost Prep, won the race outright one year (2011, on his birthday) and last year was still competitive with a victory in the 30-34 age group.

      A few years back, Judith (Haneman) Reid placed third in the 65 age group. She also created distinctive “turkey headbands” for family members.

      Haneman family racers have traveled from New Jersey, Colorado, Oregon, Wisconsin, Texas, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Maine, Texas, New Hampshire and Ohio to take part in the fun.

      Support is the key word. Everyone cheers each other on.

      “At the end of the race everyone is looking everyone else up,” Neil said, “to see how they did.”

      The ages in this field of runners ranges from 2 to 69.

      “People participate at different levels,” offered Patricia, a Bensalem Township High School graduate who went on to a career in laboratory forensics. “With the one-miler, if someone has a brand-new baby, they put them in a stroller and do that. Then they get a little aggressive and take them on the five-miler.

      “They start at a very young age and some of the ones who started in the stroller are now running the whole five miles themselves. This year we’ll have 45 people at our house for Thanksgiving and we’ll probably have in the low 20s for those doing the race.”

      Imagine the conversations over dinner. Lots of talk about how the race went.

      But before that, the family heads over to Macclesfield Park in Yardley for some more exercise, namely soccer and football. Now that’s working up an appetite.

      Niel competed in track, swimming and soccer at both Neshaminy and Neshaminy Maple Point high schools in the late ‘70s.

      These days, Team Haneman is a strong competitor for the five-mile team event. The team has won it and the bling includes a trophy and a gift certificate for dinner.

      Perhaps the best part of the whole experience is making new relationships and expanding on ones already in place.

      And what better day to do that than a holiday like Thanksgiving?

      “I just think it’s been a wonderful, supportive environment,” Patricia said. “Regardless of how gifted you might be as a runner, it’s allowed us to bring people into the family and see that. I think it’s encouraged the family getting together as well as runners.

      “We have people who are joining the family as significant others and they sometimes see it as a challenge but they’re right there with us. So it’s really nice to grow the family and grow the interest.”

      Race calendar

      Sunday

      Doylestown Jingle Bell 10K/5K/2-Miler, 10 a.m. Doylestown. Contact www.runsignup.com

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Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.