20th annual State Street Mile set for Sunday
Some of the most elite runners from throughout the state will gather Sunday morning in downtown Santa Barbara for the 20th annual State Street Mile.
This year’s event is expected to draw as many as 2,000 participants, including humans, dogs, and runners of all ages and abilities. Known as the “Fastest, Funnest Mile in the West,” the event features a downhill, point-to-point course that showcases the State Street corridor in a unique way — without vehicle traffic.
All event proceeds go to the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Victim-Witness Assistance Program’s Crime Victim Emergency Fund.
Megan Riker-Rheinschild, who works in the Crime Victim program at the District Attorney’s Office, has been putting the race on for the past 20 years. A former track and cross-country athlete at UCSB, Ms. Riker-Rheinschild was in disbelief when she realized she had been at the helm for two decades.
The event was held intermittently from 1988 to 1999 and was donated to UCSB but eventually ended up under her leadership.
The event raises as much as $12,000 annually. The funds are distributed to crime victims in need of housing, food or transportation. Proceeds are also put towards the county’s Human Trafficking Task Force.
About 200 runners participated in the event the first year and its popularity has grown ever since.
“When you grow something like that, be it your career or whatever, you grow an affinity for it,” Ms. Riker-Rheinschild said. “It’s hard to stop doing something that brings the community so much joy.”
One local group that has been a mainstay in the annual race is the Santa Barbara Running Coyotes, which will have 34 boys and girls ages 4 to 12 in this year’s race, said team coach Becky Aaronson.
“Participating in events like the State Street Mile can teach young runners many things about themselves — especially how capable they are,” Ms. Aaronson said in an email. “They learn how to set goals and work hard to achieve them, and in the process internalize how strong their minds and bodies are. Our athletes also learn joys of pushing themselves beyond what they thought they could do, and the power of training as a team and competing together.”
The group uses races like Sunday’s as a way to race money for local and global organizations, Ms. Aaonson said.
“Running is great preparation for the teen years, and life in general, because it teaches kids (and adults) that you get out of it what you put into it — just like everything else, and it teaches you patience, persistence, focus, and most of gratitude,” she said.
The event offers a $10,000 prize for the first elite finisher, man or woman, who runs faster than the following standards: 3:47 (men) and 4:17 (women). The bonus will be split evenly if both gender winners break the time standards. If the bonus is achieved, the $1,000 event record bonus will also be awarded.
Eclipsing the time standards also means setting a local record. The current men’s record on State Street is 3:49 and the women’s record is 4:22, said Ms. Riker-Rheinschild, who was the 1995 State Street Mile champion.
The 2019 event will also offer an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the Backwards Mile Walk. The backwards mile is actually only a kilometer, Ms. Riker-Rheinschild said, but the group will try to break the record for the number of participants, which stands at 1,105 people.
“Our hope is that everyone that shows up will be talked into walking backwards for a kilometer,” she said.
Race day starts at 8 a.m. Sunday with eight age group categories. It will be followed by the YMCA Family Fun Mile, Masters Elite Mile, HOKA ONE ONE Elite Mile and ending with the must-see Dog Mile. The race will take place from Pedregosa to De La Guerra streets.
“If nothing else, I would say that if you can come out and watch these athletes run this mile it really is something to watch,” said Ms. Riker-Rheinschild.