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Downhill all the way

Staff Report
July 01. 2014 10:27PM

Hundredes of runners make their way down Bridge Street in Manchester during the Manchester Mile road race held yesterday in Manchester. (BRUCE PRESTON)

MANCHESTER - In the three years runners have sprinted down Bridge Street in the race now known as the Hinckley Allen Manchester Mile, the slowest time by a male winner has been 3 minutes, 50 seconds.

So it’s probably safe to say there will be some pretty quick times turned in Thursday night when runners return to the start outside Derryfield Park and head downhill toward Pulaski Park.

More than 1,300 competitors are expected to compete in this year’s Manchester Mile, scheduled for 8 p.m., after the conclusion of the Manchester 5K. That race starts at 6 p.m.

Race-day registration at Derryfield Park will begin at 5 p.m. and continue until 15 minutes before the start of each event.

Runners can compete in both races, returning to the summit of the Bridge Street Hill after finishing the 5K.

The companion races are managed by Millennium Running and are parts of the Elliot Millennium Running Series.

The two fastest times in the race’s short history have been run by the same man, 2011 and ’13 winner Brian Gagnon of Lowell, Mass. A former University of Connecticut All-American, Gagnon finished in 3:44 in the race’s inaugural run and in 3:43 last year.

The women’s course record, 4:14, is held by Julie Culley of Clinton, N.J. Another Jersey woman, Nicol Traynor, won last year’s race in 4:20.

The mile course starts with a net 188-foot drop in elevation, leading to a flat finish, producing lots of fast times.

Because of the net elevation, times are not eligible as national or international distance records.

Gagnon’s course-record time last year was faster than the world mile record of 3:43.13, set by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco in 1999.

Finishing runner-up to Gagnon last year was Pat Fullerton of Bradford, Mass., in 3:49. Derry’s Peter Najem narrowly missed a sub-4-minute time, placing third in 4:01.