As the longest continuous aquathon series in California, Run Santa Barbara’s Nite Moves has a loyal following. Every Wednesday evening from May through August, the event attracts locals and visitors alike to run and swim along Santa Barbara’s Leadbetter Beach and Shoreline Park. This year, Nite Moves is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
Nite Moves consists of three separate events: a Kids’ Mile run for children ages 5-11, a 1-Kilometer open ocean swim, and a 5-Kilometer run or walk along Shoreline Drive. The races are staggered so swimmers can participate in the run after their swim.
“As many as 65 percent of swimmers go on to run the 5K after the swim,” said Jake Clinton, who co-founded the race in 1989.
Nite Moves has evolved in the years since its founding. What started as a six-week series now runs for 18 weeks. The event originally included a kayak race, but after the first year, the 1K swim replaced the kayaks.
Nite Moves typically draws more than 100 swimmers and more than 200 runners to its athletic events and the family-friendly and social beachside gathering following the races.
Standing at the finish line, one sees a diverse group of participants. They range from highly trained, competitive athletes, to runners with strollers, to walkers there to enjoy the festive atmosphere while getting some exercise, to children crossing a finish line for the very first time.
When speaking to participants, their enthusiasm for Nite Moves is evident.
“I love running outside along the beach, the music and the ice cream,” said Jilli, a regular participant starting this year. “Nite Moves is really the whole package. It’s an opportunity to both exercise and have fun.”
Long-time participant Jayna, who has been running in Nite Moves since 2005, has built friendships with other runners over the years.
“Nite Moves is the only racing I do all summer,” she explained. “I love the food, the beer and the atmosphere after the race, and the opportunity to see my friends and get to know other runners.”
Various bands play live music at the après-race festivities and a rotation of restaurants provides food for hungry runners. McConnell’s Ice Cream and Pacific Beverage Co.’s beer consistently round out each week’s menu.
Clinton described Nite Moves as having “a social aspect, a family aspect, and a competitive aspect.”
“It has gotten a lot of people off of the couch and in shape,” he said. “And it’s a great excuse to be down on Leadbetter Beach on a Wednesday night.”
Registration begins at Leadbetter Beach at 5 p.m. Wednesdays. Vendors’ booths open at 5 p.m. The open ocean swim begins at 6:25 p.m. The running events begin at 6:35 p.m.
Tickets include dinner and a raffle ticket and cost $25 per night or $279 for the season.
Click here for more information or to register for Nite Moves online.