Runners start the Hinkley Allen Manchester 5K race on Bridge Street in Manchester Wednesday.Mark Bolton/Union Leader
One of the first things Brian Gagnon did after he won Wednesday night's third annual Hinckley Allen Manchester Mile was take off his shoes and search for a patch of grass. Gagnon's 3 minutes, 42.97 seconds was faster than the world record for the mile, but because the race is run at a downhill grade, it doesn't qualify for a world record.
"My feet are on fire," Gagnon said after prevailing in 3 minutes, 42.97 seconds.
Gagnon's time not only set a record for the downhill course, it was also faster than the world record for the mile (3:43.13) set by Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj in 1999.
The Manchester Mile is not eligible for world or national records because of the course's slope.
Gagnon, an All-American when he ran for the University of Connecticut, set the previous record for the Manchester Mile when he won the inaugural race in 3:43.99. He did not compete in last year's race
"This is one of those one-of-a-kind things," Gagnon said. "It's downhill and it's fast. People won't look down on the time, but they'll push it to the side because it was downhill."
Gagnon, 26, was born and raised in Lowell, Mass., but currently lives in New Jersey. He said his best mile time on a track is 3:57:00.
Nicol Traynor, 24, a former All-American at the University of Richmond, was the top female finisher, She completed the mile in 4:20:40 and finished 12th overall.
Like Gagnon, Traynor is a member of the New Jersey/New York Track Club.
"Brian and I train together down in New Jersey and he recommended this race," Traynor said. "A downhill mile? I had never heard of that before.
"To run under 4:30 was my goal. I wasn't sure what a reasonable goal was, but I had that in my mind. I'm definitely happy with my time. It's nice to have the guys to run behind."
The University of New Hampshire was well represented in the 5K race that preceded the Manchester Mile.
Sandown's Louis Saviano, who is one semester shy of graduating from UNH, finished first in the 5K. He completed the course in 15:48.
Saviano attended Timberlane Regional High School in Plaistow before he enrolled at UNH. After winning the 5K Saviano finished 18th in the Manchester Mile.
"Anytime you win a race it's pretty awesome," Saviano said. "I wanted to win this and then see what I could do in the mile."
Goffstown's Stephanie Burnham was the top female finisher. Burnham, who graduated from UNH in 2003, ran 17th overall in 19:19. She finished second in the 5K last year.
"Since graduating from UNH I've continued to run — mostly marathons," Burnham said. "I'm not very fast.
"Every day I run I'm thankful for. It's just fun to be out here running. It's fun to break the tape."
For expanded coverage and additional photos of the Manchester Mile, see Friday's print editions of the New Hampshire Union Leader.