From serious competition to fun runs, more than 1,500 join the State Street Mile
On a cool and foggy Sunday morning, runners from across the state gathered in downtown Santa Barbara to run the “Fastest, Funniest Mile in the West.”
More than 1,500 people were registered to run in the 20th annual State Street Mile, with at least 60 of them being man’s four-legged best friend, said Ryan Lamppa of Bring Back the Mile.
Children under 10 were the first to take the mile, starting at 8 a.m. There were a total of eight age groups, ranging to runners over 60.
When the Family Fun Mile amateur races ended, the Elite races, which in the past have featured such runners s Michael Coe, who set the course record at 3:49 mile in 2013, began just at 9:50 a.m. The Women and Men’s Master races, for runners older than 40, opened the competition. After that was the Women’s Elite Race, with 13 women running, followed by the Men’s Elite Race, with 20 competitors, according to the event website.
The winner of the Women’s Elite Race was Therese Haiss of Cleveland, Ohio. She ran the State Street Mile in 4:19, beating the previous record of 4:22 set by Tori Tsolis in 2017. It is also the fastest mile on California soil, beating Mary Decker’s 1982 4:20.5 mile, which was set in 1982.
Running as part of the Mission Athletic Club from San Diego, Ms. Haiss said it was a “huge breakthrough” for her, as she had not run an under-4:40 mile in 2019. Ms. Haiss was a three-time All American at the University of Arkansas, according to the event website.
“I’m really happy,” Ms. Haiss told the News-Press.
It was her first time running in the State Street Mile, which became a common theme for some of the winners of their respective categories, and she credited her trainers.
“I definitely had an idea it was going to be a fast mile,” Ms. Haiss said, adding that she felt relaxed despite running hard.
Ms. Haiss had kind words for Santa Barbara, praising the town. It’s her favorite California town and she “definitely” loved it here.
“Maybe one day I’ll move here,” she added.
The first place winner of the Men’s Elite race was Weston Strum, who ran the mile in 3:52. Mr. Strum did not run as part of any organization, but he has run before, winning the Oxy International 2019 1,500-meter race.
Just like Ms. Haiss, this was Mr. Strum’s first time running in the State Street Mile. He works full-time in accounting for a startup in the Bay Area.
His time was his personal best.
“It felt good,” Mr. Strum told the News-Press.
He was telling himself to “just focus” and relax during the run, and when it came to the last quarter-mile he had to go “all out,” he said.
“You can see the finish line the entire time, which is both good and bad!” Mr. Strum said with a smile.
The first-place winners won $1,000, with second-place receiving $750 and third-place getting $500.
For the Women’s Elite Race, Jenna Hickle was in second place, also with a 4:20 time, while Raquel Lambdin edged into third with a 4:21. For the Men’s Elite Race, George Gleason came in second with a 3:52 and Tim Gorman came in third at 3:54.
Ms. Haiss also will receive a $1,000 bonus for beating the previous record held by Tori Tsolis. The winner of the Men’s Master Elite race was Neville Davey, who ran a 4:14 mile, and the winner of the Women’s Master Elite race was Nancy Thomas at 5:00.
After the Elite races, the Dog Mile started at 10:30 a.m.
Dan Wehunt was the men’s winner and unofficially became the Dog Mile Champion with his dog Odessa. Hailing from Bozeman, Montana, they set the unofficial world record with their 4:06 mile, according to the event website. The previous record was 4:13 by Bryan Doth and his dog Kaydom in 2016.
The women’s winner was Ms. Nancy Thomas with Rab, a 3-year-old Lab, at 5:22.
Rab was exuberant in his victory, as it was his first time running in the State Street Mile, a detail he shares with Ms. Haiss, Mr. Strum and Odessa.
Rab’s parents are Mike and Bonny Moe, who are from Bay Area. Rab was originally supposed to be a service dog for veterans, but did not make the cut and was taken in by the Moes.
Ms. Thomas had only run with Rab twice before. However, both runners were focused despite the fact that the Dog Mile can be distracting. It was Ms. Thomas’ fourth time in the State Street Mile.
“It’s hard at the start because all the dogs are running in different directions,” Ms. Thomas said, but Rab was focused and ran forward, propelling him and Ms. Thomas toward first-place.
For the Moes, they were proud of their “Seabiscuit.”
“They call him the Seabiscuit of the race,” the Moes explained, referring to Rab’s small size.
Rab did not comment on his win, but his tail was wagging the entire time.
“It was by far the largest State Street Mile event that we’ve had. The addition of the Guinness Record backward walk event brought in significant numbers and definitely added a unique element,” Megan Riker-Rheinschild, organizer of the State Street Mile, told the News-Press.
All proceeds from the event will go to the Santa Barbara Crime Victim Emergency Fund, according to the event website.
The next State Street Mile will take place on June 7, 2020.