ENCINITAS — The annual Encinitas Mile drew elite runners, novices, kids and dogs to the starting line on Vulcan Avenue March 20.
Race heats in the USATF-certified run alternated between open and elite divisions.
The kids division started the race day.
The closing race was the beloved dog mile.
In between elite men and women runners clocked in times of five minutes and under.
The race drew promising Olympic contenders and former world record holders.
Former U.S. and world mile record holder Steve Scott said it’s very unique to have a mile race as a stand alone event.
“It’s usually part of a track meet,” Scott said. “A road race is usually a 5 or 10k, or marathon.”
Most racers saw the short, intense race as a fun alternative, and good training for longer distances.
Elizabeth Staker, of Sugarloaf, California, came in first in the women’s elite division at 4 minutes, 43 seconds.
Dusty Solis, of Rancho Cucamonga, placed first in the men’s elite at 4 minutes, 12 seconds.
Solis said during the race he heard fellow runners “chomping at the bit.” That fueled him to push himself to win.
His advice to runners who are starting out is to keep at it.
The dog mile was filled with owners and their shepherds, retrievers, and bichon frises.
Thomas Whitcomb, of Escondido, and his dog took first at 4 minutes, and 53 seconds. After the finish Whitcomb described his dog as a solo runner, and said the winning dog would be spending the rest of the day chasing squirrels and rabbits.
The race offers a $2,000 total prize purse, and donates all proceeds to charities.
The dog mile challenges animal advocacy groups to a fundraising competition in which the nonprofit with the most participants is awarded the most money.
This is the race’s third year. Many of the runners have participated since the inaugural race.
“There aren’t a whole lot of opportunities to run the mile,” Mark Sarno, co-founder and race director, said.
The race continues to grow with 350 competing last year, and an estimated 450 this year.