Since 1983, the State Street Mile has brought traditional runners from all over to Santa Barbara’s downtown corridor to race an unconventional downhill mile.
On Sunday, due to the CIF State Track and Field Meet being moved up a week, West Ranch senior boys cross-country and track and field runner Evan Bates decided to try his luck for the first time amongst a highly talented field of runners in the Elite Men Mile group.
“It sounded like a fun opportunity to do after state because state was moved up one week this year,” Bates said. “It gave me the opportunity to race this race so I was like I still feel that I’m in pretty good shape. I can go one more week and see what I can do against an elite field like that.”
Beginning on Santa Barbara’s famous State Street, runners descend just over 100 feet as they run in a straight line through downtown Santa Barbara to the finish line on State and De La Guerra Streets.
Wearing his good luck ‘Lucky Charms’ tank top that he made for Winter Championships, Bates ran the mile focused and inspired and finished in ninth place out of the 19 Elite Men athlete field, barely missing the four-minute mark with a time of 4:00.4.
“I really like Lucky Charms and it’s my favorite cereal so I was like lets just make it something fun and different so I made the Lucky Charms uniform,” Bates said. “It’s just kind of different and I kind of like running in it so it’s just something different.”
His blistering mile time didn’t come easy though as Bates wasn’t quite prepared for the rigors of running downhill on asphalt.
“I wore my normal racing flats, which are for cross-country and are actually road-racing flats, I thought those would be fine, but I made the mistake of tying my shoes too tight,” Bates said. “When I was running down the hill, it was just pounding, pounding, pounding and my feet were just getting hot, hot and hot, and I developed a huge blister on the bottom of my foot by the end of the race. I was just telling myself to stay in there as long as I can. I hung on and ended up passing three people at the end which is really exciting.”
Running through the first-quarter mile, Bates remembers hearing 58 seconds, which made him feel pretty good. At the half-mile mark, Bates clocked a 1:58 and at the three-quarter-mile mark, he was at 3:01 and felt pretty confident.
“I started moving, moving and I had to kind of push through the pain of my feet burning,” Bates said. “I just kept telling myself, ‘I can do this. I can try doing this.’ When I crossed the line I saw 4:01, for a while I saw 4:01 because they took a while for the results. When I found out I was at 4:00.4, I was like, ‘Ah. If only I could’ve.’ But yeah, it was fun.”
Graduating from West Ranch yesterday, Bates now focuses his attention on a couple of races during summer, preparing to continue running for Gonzaga University where he will be attending in the fall.
“I might do the Independent 5k or 10k. I don’t know if I’ll do the 10k or 5k, maybe both, we’ll see,” Bates said. “I might do a few of the COC summer cross-country races. Other than that, it’s going to be training and getting into shape for next year.
“Just another step to my next endeavor which will be college running and schooling. I’m just really thankful for everything I’ve learned at West Ranch and the development I’ve gotten from Coach Sara (Soltani) and my teammates. I’m just ready to see what I can do at the collegiate level.”