Thoughts on the Elite Mile

Posted by Staff Writer Eric Branch:
If you didn’t already know, history wasn’t made at the inaugural Heart and Sole Elite Mile on Friday night at Santa Rosa High School. No runner clocked the first sub-four-minute-mile in Sonoma County, but for a first-time event I’d say it was a success.
And for those who missed it, there’s good news: The plan is to do it again next year.
It would be nice for it to become an annual race. I mean, how many professional athletes ever compete in Santa Rosa during a typical year? There’s the Tour of California cycling race and …
Anyway, Alex Wolf-Root, a former runner at Maria Carrillo and UC Davis, a track-and-field savant (he can tell you all he need to know about the training regimen of Abdi Abdirahman) and one of the event’s organizers, said the plan from the beginning was to make it an annual event. And Friday did nothing to change that.
The crowd wasn’t overwhelming — high school athletes who had finished competing at the All-City Meet accounted for a fair number of the few hundred fans (sorry, official attendance figures not available). But the people who were there were enthusiastic and created a cool atmosphere during the race.
Another thing: The athletes cared. I suppose that’s what happens when you put up prize money. But it was nice to see them treat the event as if it were the Olympic Trials.
Not that anyone asked, but I do have one suggestion for next year: Hold the race earlier.
The men’s race started around 9:30 p.m., which severely limits the crowd. Most people with children don’t want to be hanging around a track — or anywhere — with their shivering, sleep-deprived sweeties at that hour. Why not start the All-City Meet 30 minutes earlier and hold the Elite Mile during the midway point of the meet?
You know, have a halftime. And then hold the second annual Heart and Sole Elite Mile.