SBCC’s La Playa Stadium Hosts Four Elite Running Races Friday Night

By John Zant

Man’s first conquest of the four-minute-mile barrier will soon be 64 years old. It’s about time somebody ran at a faster pace than 60 seconds for four laps around a Santa Barbara track. It’s also timely that it could happen six weeks after the death of Roger Bannister, whose 3:59.4 clocking made history on May 6, 1954.

“Sir Roger, may he rest in peace, broke a mental barrier,” Leo Manzano said. “People thought their heart would explode and they’d die trying to go sub-four. Once he broke through, more and more guys started doing it.”

Track & Field News has compiled a list of 514 Americans who have run the mile faster than four minutes on outdoor and indoor tracks. Nobody has ever officially accomplished the feat in Santa Barbara County, despite its being such a mecca for runners in training that Jim Ryun, the only U.S. miler to break the world record in the past 80 years, lived here for a decade.

That empty box in Santa Barbara’s athletic history could be checked Friday night, April 13. A strong field of milers will toe the starting line at SBCC’s La Playa Stadium in a quest to tear down the four-minute wall.

At 8:40 p.m., “Milers, take your marks.” First, there will be a masters mile in which Santa Barbara’s HOKA ONE ONE Aggies Aeron Arlin Genet will try to crack the U.S. women’s age 50-54 record of 5:15.55. At 8:50 p.m., it’s the women’s elite mile, in which the goal is to break 4:30. The men’s mile, with at least six runners boasting sub-4:00 credentials, will go off at 9 p.m.

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