(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
June 6, 2014 -- The Jim Ryun Festival of Miles at San Diego's Balboa Stadium last night did the event's namesake proud highlighted by fast performances by Eric Avila and Sarah Brown.
Avila, who will graduate later this week from Southern Oregon University in Ashland, won the elite men's mile in a 3:56.89, a whopping 10-second improvement over his previous best. He beat former University of Oregon All-American A.J. Acosta who clocked 3:57.05. As Jim Ryun himself held one side of the finish tape, Avila was cheered by dozens of family and friends who had come to the stadium from his hometown of Bonita, just four miles south of San Diego.
"Down the homestretch I had about 50 people, my family and friends, cheering and screaming, so I just pointed to them because they lifted me," Avila told event organizers after the race. "I'm never going to forget that moment."
Avila was anxious to post a fast time and qualify for the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships later this month in Sacramento. Mid-race, he got impatient made contact with the pacemaker.
"I bumped into the rabbit on the backstretch because I was getting really antsy because I was like, go faster," Avila explained. He continued: "I kept thinking, oh man, I feel so good right now. I thought I was going to win by more. It sounds really bad saying that, but I was feeling really good."
Acosta, who was originally from Oceanside, CA, (also in the San Diego area) and spent the last several years living in Eugene, OR, was also pleased with his performance. He said that he was relocating to the San Francisco area to run under Bay Area Track Club coach Tom Kloos. He needed a good race.
"You know, a lot of people counted me out," Acosta said. "So, to kind of get under that four-minute barrier means a lot to myself and my family. So it was good to do it here on front of a home crowd, it's always good. I'm very happy with it."
In the women's elite mile, Sarah Brown--who now lives with husband Darren in San Diego--was the class of the field, winning by half a minute in season's best 4:33.42. Olympic Marathon bronze medalist Deena Kastor, 41, finished second in 5:02.04.
In other heats, Chandler Johnson of Clairmont High School won the high school girl's mile in 5:02.91, while the boy's high school title went to Josh Bernd of Canyon Crest H.S. in 4:20.21. Tania Fisher won the women's masters mile in 5:17.63 over Grace Padilla (5:20.01), while Tim Gore won the men's masters division in 4:26.75. There was even an Elliptigo Mile won by the one and only Mary Decker Slaney in 3:24.86.
Photo: Eric Avila winning the Elite Mile at the 2014 Jim Ryun Festival of Miles in San Diego, CA, in a personal best 3:56.89 over A.J. Acosta. Jim Ryun (l) and Josh Cox held the finish tape. Photo by Jason Koenig for Competitor Group; used with permission.