Wednesday, September 20 , 2017, 10:19 am | Partly Cloudy 68º

 
 
 
 

Nite Moves Still On the Go After 21 Years of Waterfront Fun

Santa Barbara's original run- and ocean-swim event lures a 'mini-community' of loyal participants

Even after 21 years, hundreds of athletes still gather on summer Wednesday nights to launch from Leadbetter Beach to swim and run as part of Nite Moves.

The event happens year in, year out, May through August, and lures participants to the park, where they can participate in a 5K run, a 1K ocean swim — or both, in the “Aquathon.” This season’s final Nite Moves event will be Wednesday.

Even if you’re not racing, taking in the view of the sailboats just off the park’s coastline makes the event worthwhile. Sticking around to hear the weekly bands that play during the event and grabbing some beer and food from the event’s sponsors are added bonuses to the beautiful setting.

Just before a swim on a recent Wednesday, Jake Clinton, the force behind the event, took time to share some Nite Moves history.

Clinton and two other friends, Chris Holmberg and Eddie St. Clair, all runners, decided to start their own Santa Barbara event. When Leadbetter Beach was picked in 1989 for Nite Moves, it was an underutilized park, Clinton said. Nowadays, it’s one of the city’s most popular oceanfront sites.

At the trio’s opening night, 298 people showed up, a turnout for which Clinton said he wasn’t prepared. During the next six weeks, participation crested at more than 700 people at one point.

“We knew we had a hit,” he said.

Now that Nite Moves is in its 21st season, turnout is still fairly consistent, with about 350 people turning out weekly, Clinton said. That’s down about 75 participants from last year, which Clinton said is mostly because of the economy. When gas prices soared last summer, the Nite Movers who came to participate from out of town were forced to cut back; Clinton said he’s had people come as far as Bakersfield to swim and run.

Some people prefer to stay on the beach to cheer on the Nite Moves athletes.
Some people prefer to stay on the beach to cheer on the Nite Moves athletes. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

But just because organizers have seen a slight drop in turnout doesn’t mean Clinton has slowed his plans to move Nite Moves forward. He’s been working on a design layout for a Nite Moves event in San Diego, and hopes to expand in Boise, seemingly an unlikely place for such an event. Although it doesn’t have an ocean coastline, the Idaho capital borders a river that would work perfectly, and was the idea of a former Nite Mover who relocated there.

Participating in Nite Moves costs $25 the first time, and $20 after that, and $235 for a whole season. Clinton is quick to say that the price includes a Nite Moves T-shirt, and for those of legal drinking age, a complementary beer provided by a sponsor. Participants also get a ticket for a raffle drawing that provides a fee wetsuit.

“I’ve always been putting back into this event to make it better and better,” adding better clocks and timing equipment, he said.

Volunteer Jose Gonzalez, who’s helped with the event since its inception, said the group that shows up every week functions as a mini-community. He said he’s seen many friendships and relationships begin and blossom during Nite Moves. For example, a couple who met at Nite Moves got married years ago. Their 11-year-old child was singing in the band that performed earlier this month.

“Every night here is beautiful,” he said. “Everybody has their own goal. Some are triathletes, some are swimmers. We have lawyers, we have doctors, we have everybody.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >