Photo from PAUSATF - @pacific_association

By Thomas Poston

A somber, forgettable, four-hour car ride up to Los Gatos, California would prove to be a well invested journey to a thrilling, memorable, four-minute bout down University Lane. This gradual, downhill street overlooking the Vasona Reservoir is where the 2017 One Mile Bang race would take place. 

To put this race in context, I have not had a stellar 2017 Spring/Summer jaunt around the oval office. So, a downhill mile with team scoring wasn’t exactly my preferred venture of choice. However, the pressure that comes from the presence of a team effort may have been the exact pick-me-up I needed. A call to arms was something I hadn’t experienced in over a year, since I had last raced in the Gaucho blue of UC Santa Barbara. Noticing the HOKA ONE ONE Aggie cavalry cheerfully preparing for the race reassured me (ever so slightly) that what mattered most on the day was my effort for the team, and that is all I can ask of myself on the day.

With some last-second leg shakes and some deep breaths, the gun goes off and the hoard begins the downhill charge. Interestingly enough, we have a lead car with timing equipment rolling just ahead of the pack, giving us a constant reminder of our progress. This was a very welcoming thing to see. A road mile is an unorthodox race where most of your effort gauging is reactionary. Four minutes is not a lot of time to methodically plan your pacing compared to its four-lap counterpart on the track, where you’re being fed information every 220 to 440 yards. So the lead car helped a lot in my case, since I’m the kind of person that thrives on that constant feedback. 

An unknown runner bursts into the lead within the first 100 yards and almost pulls even with the car, a good 10 or so meters ahead of us. The rest of the pack knows full well to contain their excitement, so everyone completely ignores this early leader. We cross 440 yards in just a tick over 60 seconds, and I find myself tucked in just behind my teammate Darius Terry and two Strava Track Club runners. The rest of my Aggies teammates are in tow, almost forming a barricade in front of those attempting to retain contact. 

The next two quarter miles blitz by my recollection, as all I could do was reassure myself that all I needed to hang on and let the course and the pack pull me forward. The fun truly began once we hit 440 to go in about 3:06 to 3:07. Darius immediately coasts away just a moment or two after 1320 yards, letting us know ahead of time that the first-place medal would be in his rightful possession. In the meantime, I’m punching my ticket for a seat on the struggle bus as Benedikt Bünz from Strava Club is narrowly pulling ahead of me right as I remind myself that the time to use my last gear is fast approaching. I had scoped out the finish line earlier in the day, and had committed to making my final push by a delivery truck sitting just ahead of some markings on the road indicating 200 meters left in the race. But with the fatigue setting in quickly, I knew that I had to use my last move wisely.

Just before I hit the delivery truck, my teammate Phillip Reid decides to join me on my right side. As much I don’t want to admit it, my young gun pride kicked in once that occurred, so the final push may have had a little bit more oomph than expected. I squeeze by ever so slightly past Phillip, my head starting to rock, my arms flailing to the side, barely keeping Benedikt in sight as the finish line was approaching. I plead for one last push but I'm completely spent, stuck in my last gear and hoping the wheels would stay on for just a few more yards. I muster a desperate dip across the line in case someone had mustered up a late charge from behind, but I secure myself a respectable third place finish. 

I was personally disappointed since I found myself finishing behind a runner from a different club, but I did what I could on the day and was satisfied I had given what I could for the team effort. I craned my head around shortly after I crossed the line to see a solid number of Aggie blue, and couldn’t help but feel a sense of satisfaction knowing the team title was secured with authority. Our top four all finished under the previous course record. It was a fun day to be an Aggie, and the four-hour car ride back home was a little more enjoyable for all that. 


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