Pier to Peak half marathon takes place the Sunday of Labor Day weekend every year. The race begins next to the dolphin fountain at Stearn’s Wharf, travels through the city streets of Santa Barbara, up Gibraltar road, and ends at La Cumbre peak. The total elevation gain is about 4000 ft. The entire race is uphill minus about half a mile (between the miles 11 and 12). Temperatures tend toward hot. Past years have easily topped 90. It is a unique and challenging half marathon even if it consists solely of pavement.
This year prior events through a curve ball at the race. About two weeks before race day a serious forest fire broke out in the Santa Barbara back country. The Forest Service closed parts of East Camino Cielo and Gibraltar so the fire fighters could stage their operations. Thankfully the fire was contained a few days before the race and the roads re-opened the day before. However, the 0.1 mile out-and-back section was cut in case fire fighting operations needed to resume. The total distance was closer to 12.8 than 13.1 miles.
Temperatures on race day were surprisingly mild. The fog held for the majority of the race and even the finish remained almost chilly. Perfect weather for running up a mountain. The first four miles are relatively mild and the next three to four start to get steeper and the last miles are just painful. I was the only Santa Barbara Mountain Racing team member to participate, however, other notable SB runners include Daniel McLeod, Phil Nigh, Daniel Scarberry, Scott Young, Jennifer Miller, William Adams, Michael Freedman, and Marcus Baker. Nevertheless I finished the course in a little over two hours.
Stephanie Fronk: 2:02:19, 41st overall and 8th GP