Thursday will mark the 60th year that I have covered the Manchester Road Race, which was revived in 1945 after a 10-year hiatus.
Six men sat down one night at the Army and Navy Club - just a few months after World War II ended - and decided the time was ripe to restore the Thanksgiving morning race.
Three weeks after that meeting, the holiday race became official. The sponsor was the Army and Navy Club.
There have been many highlights over the years, including some which will be profiled today.
1945 - 1959
The 1945 race needed local flavor and a "name" to attract 5,000 spectators on a cold, rainy day. Charlie Robbins, 25, winner of an unprecedented four national distance titles in 1944, was granted a leave from the Brunswick (Maine) Naval Station to come home. Robbins' name drew immediate attention. He had enjoyed a productive track and cross-country career at Manchester High School and at the University of Connecticut.
Career-wise, he won 11 national titles, the 20K, 25K, 30K and marathon in 1945 in his greatest 12-month span, plus the Manchester.
He easily won, with three other local runners following: Herb Stevenson, Fran Leary and schoolboy stand-out Bob Bray.
Only eight completed the 5-mile course. It was known as the Manchester Five-Miler until 1978; today, the course is 4.748 miles.
There were two non-residents in the race, and one was George Carey of Providence.
Carey thumbed rides to town. He had no money and slept at the police station. He finished last, and was treated to a full-course dinner at the Center Restaurant.
There was no entry fee, and with eight runners and 10 prizes, two runners wound up with two awards - a necktie and a dress shirt. Robbins received a watch from Bray jewelers.
Joe McCluskey, Manchester's all-time great sports figure, was responsible for the popularity of the race in the 1930s. He won in 1930, 1931 and 1932. He survived five years in the Navy, and proved 15 years after his last win that he could still triumph.
McCluskey was 36 in 1947, the oldest to win the Manchester. He was a two-time steeple-chase Olympian.
Little Johnny Kelley arrived on the scene in 1948 and was the most dominant contestant for 15 years.
Kelley came in fourth in 1948, third and second the next two years and in 1951, won the first of six Manchester races. In addition to 1951, he won in 1952, '53, '57, '61, '62. During this time, he twice took out time to run the marathon in the Olympics.
The 1956 race marked the first time one second separated the first- and second-place finishers.
UConn's Charlie Dyson out-sprinted Alan Shaler to win when the race finished in front of Mary Cheney library.
The last Manchester man to cross the finish line first was Peter Close in 1958. The former Manchester High and St. John's star was also an Olympian.