Nearly a quarter century ago, Steve Gates established a course record for a local entrant in the Manchester Road Race. He was timed in 22:59 over the 4.748 miles.
During the last quarter century, hundreds of Manchesterites have taken a shot at lowering the standout performance without success.
Gates, 50, is the only hometowner to break 23 minutes.
The 1980 run marked the fifth time Gates was No. 1 in the final tabulation of Manchester residents. He finished seventh overall, his highest in 33 years.
He'll be toeing the starting line for a 34th time Thanksgiving morning in the 68th running of the race.
Far from being superstitious, he'll wear No. 13 on his jersey, a number he's been identified with since 1979.
The stiffest challengers to the record have been Tim DeValve and Brendan Prindiville.
DeValve led the pack three straight years, 23:18 in 1983, 24:13 in 1982 and 23:22 in 1981, clearly a showing of consistency by the former Manchester High and University of Connecticut track standout. He led the home brigade a record eight times with other successes in 1980, 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1990.
Prindiville covered the paved street course in 23:28 in 1997 and 23:39 in 1998. The former Loomis Chaffee and Brown University star made the select top 25 list twice in world-class fields, gaining 23rd place in 1995 and 24th in 1996.
Todd Liscombe is the only other Manchester runner to claim a 25th or under finish since the big influx of professional talent started in full swing in 1980.
Liscombe was 23rd in 1997 and 24th in 1996. He, too, was a one-time Manchester High harrier who competed in college at Old Dominion.
Drew Best, top Silk Towner in each of the last three years, placed 56th, 38th and 33rd overall with times of 27:15, 25:25 and 25:28. He also gained fame at Manchester High and at Bates College.
Gates, in 36 years of competitive running, has won more than 300 races in more than 600 starts. He has been involved in distance running from mile to marathons with a career best 4:09 mile in the 1974 NCAA Nationals, a year in which he won the Division III cross country championship.
Gates holds membership in both the Eastern Connecticut State University Hall of Fame (1980) and the Manchester Sports Hall of Fame (1985).
Among his major running accomplishments, Gates noted near the top was his record time performance in Manchester 25 years ago.
Sports Expo Set
The annual Sports and Fitness Expo, sponsored by the Manchester Road Race committee, will be offered Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Bennet Middle School's Cone gym. The program will be free and open to the public.
Area exhibitors will offer tips on training, stretching, chiropractic treatment, nutrition and therapy, cardiac fitness and orthopedics.
The Silk City Striders will have a "Know Your Pace Run" lecture to give runners an opportunity to determine the proper pace.