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Run for Fame or Fun

Capt Seshadri looks at the Santa Barbara International Marathon that can bring you closer to your Boston dreams.

Are you a keen runner? Do you want to qualify for the Boston Marathon? Want your family to enjoy a scenic vacation? And join them after the run? Here’s a simple solution to all these. Just run the Santa Barbara International Marathon.

Beginnings

It was as early as in 1965. Marathons outside of the Olympics were virtually unknown. In Santa Barbara, a picturesque town in California, a group of distance runners created a marathon that was to continue for nearly two decades, till 1984. The debut event saw 27 runners start the race, that began at the University of California Santa Barbara and concluded at the Santa Barbara College. Only seventeen crossed the finish line. The event slowly gained some popularity, and with the start and finish both being shifted to the College, the maximum number of participants in the first series, in the year 1977, rose to 354. Those days, there were no aid stations and no traffic regulations to make the course exclusive to the runners, who had to vie with vehicular traffic on the roads. Over time, the event died a natural death till it was revived by the untiring efforts of a runner couple.

Racing with the Race Directors

Rusty and June Snow, co-directors of the Santa Barbara Marathon, actually moved base from the East Coast to bring this event to Santa Barbara. It took a few years of persuasion and cajoling, but the couple finally brought it off in 2009, on December 6, to be precise. There was both the usual marathon and even a relay event, with close to 2,000 runners participating in both events. After this rebirth, there was no looking back for this dedicated couple who even collected the leftover water bottles and snack bars and donated them to the Santa Barbara Foodbank. The discarded clothing was given to Unity Shoppe.

The thoughtfulness of the race directors was key to making the event a tremendous success, year after year. In 2011, a sum of $ 5,000 was donated to the Community Environment Council, from the simple expedient of allocating $1 from the entry fee of each participant. Commented Rusty: “We need to be thoughtful and protect that place we live and run. One reason people come to run the marathon is to experience the beauty of the region. We want to protect that for years to come, for our runners and for our community.”

The Route Plan

The Santa Barbara International Marathon takes the runners through some of the most scenic routes on any marathon trail in the world. Beginning in Goleta, the route winds through the town and towards the outskirts of the University town of Isla Vista. As the runners close in towards Santa Barbara, they are met with a fairly steep incline. But after they have puffed their way up the hill, they come face to face with the majestic view of the endless Pacific Ocean as they now run down the slopes and onto the finish line at the Santa Barbara City College Stadium.      

The time is early May, on Mothers’ Day weekend, the best season for running or even for leisure activity in this part of the world. Spoil yourself with choices from the full course, the half marathon, or even run the two-person relay. And as the organisers say: “Run with, or for your mother!” Finish your run, relax and head for ocean activities, or hike, bike or chase history. Or celebrate your finish at the post race Wine & Music Festival at the Solvang Park.  

Run the Santa Barbara Marathon. Run for fame, or just run for fun.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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