“June gloom” was “June zoom” for runners in downtown Santa Barbara on Sunday morning, as they took advantage of the cool weather and a downhill course to record historically fast times in the 20th annual State Street Mile.
Therese Haiss of San Diego broke the women’s record by three seconds; Weston Strum of San Francisco led six runners under the four-minute barrier in the men’s elite mile; and a new record was set in the unofficial Dog Mile World Championship.
More than 1,500 people put their shoes to the pavement. The participation was swelled by an attempt to set a world record for the largest backwards walk of one kilometer, the final event of the day.
Haiss stormed across the finish line in 4:19, the fastest recorded women’s mile in California, besting the 4:20.5 that Mary Decker clocked in a San Diego indoor meet in 1982. Haiss, a former Arkansas University athlete, said the momentum from a fast opening quarter kept her going.
“Once I heard 62 [seconds], I thought it could happen,” she said. “I’m the type of person who thrives on being in front. I really wanted it. The crowd was so awesome.”
Former UCSB standout Jenna Hinkle and Raquel Lambdin, who trains with Haiss in San Diego, were close behind. Hinkle also broke the course record in 4:21, and Lambdin was another second behind.
“I knew if I let up, they’d take advantage,” the 23-year-old Haiss said. “I kept pushing.” She earned $1,000 for the win plus a $1,000 bonus for setting the new course record. She came close to claiming the $10,000 super bonus put up by Hoka One One for the first woman to run a 4:17 mile.
Strum won the men’s race in a photo finish over George Gleason, both timed in 3:53. They were chased by Tim Gorman and Darius Terry, a UCSB coach, who both finished in 3:55.
“George passed me hard with 300 [yards] to go,” Strum said. “I put my head down and came up with a last surge.”
Strum, 27, is a former NCAA finalist in the 5,000 meters from Loyola Marymount. An accountant in San Francisco, he began training on his own after a layoff from competition. “I run around Golden Gate Park and the track at Kezar Stadium,” he said. “My goal is the Olympic Trials in the 1,500 in 2020.”
In the Dog Mile, Dan Wehunt of Bozeman, Montana, burst across the finish line with Odessa, a German shorthaired pointer, in an astonishing time of 4:07, six seconds better than the previous world record.
In the age-group races, two new women’s records were set: 50-59, 5:35 by Sue McDonald of Santa Barbara; and 70-and-over, 8:14 by Eileen McMillen of Santa Ynez.
Many of the runners joined spectators and families in the backwards walk, and although they filled several blocks of State Street, the total count fell short of the Guinness world record of 1,107 participants.