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Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank
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9-Trails Race Has Plenty of Peaks and Valleys

The route may be grueling but you can't beat the views of the post-Thanksgiving, 35-mile endurance run.

Saturday, November 24, 2007, The Santa Barbara 9-Trails 35-mile ultra run, Santa Barbara, California — After stuffing themselves with turkey, mashed potatoes and pie on Thanksgiving Day, 155 runners will line up at dawn Saturday, Nov. 24, in the chilly, picturesque Santa Barbara foothills to race in the 17th annual Santa Barbara 9-Trails 35-Mile Endurance Run.

The 9-Trails is an old-fashioned, small town-type of race that has evolved into a holiday tradition. This ultra run was started by local running legend Patsy Dorsey, but the reins were passed on to Luis Escobar, Mark Wieneke and a small group of local distance runners for the 15th annual event in 2005.

"I wanted to share with other runners the environment I trained in," Dorsey said. "It has the prettiest views. Nothing is as beautiful as here. It’s definitely not boring."

It’s true. Santa Barbara has some of the finest coastal mountain running on the entire West Coast. The course runs through the rugged Los Padres National Forest in Santa Barbara’s scenic front country. The 9-Trails course links all nine front country trails.

The scenery arguably makes this race one of the most breathtaking venues anywhere. The Santa Ynez Mountains are one of the few ranges in the world that run east to west. They descend 4,000 feet down to the foothills, eventually reaching the Pacific Ocean. Channel Islands National Park  and its bevy of natural wonders lies 11 to 40 miles offshore, a unique trail-running destination in its own right, and only adds to the sweeping views experienced in the 9-Trails.

The biggest challenge of the race is its terrain. The out-and-back race — it starts and finishes at the Cater Water Plant in San Roque — has an elevation gain of more than 11,500 feet. The lowest elevation is at 600 feet and the highest is at 2,400.

Needless to say, this race course is extremely hilly, encompassing a nice, challenging blend of single-track trail, fire roads and four miles of pavement. It’s moderately technical with 10 sustained climbs, fast descents and multiple creek crossings. While the 35 miles may be considered an entry-level ultra distance, the course is advanced in difficulty.

"It’s true that the course is only 35 miles," said Escobar, the race director. "But the best times are comparable to a fast 50-miler."

In 2006, Rusty Snow was the overall champion with a time of 6:10. Krissy Mohel was the first women to finish with a time of 6:43.

Gibraltar Road is one of eight aid stations along the rugged course. One of the best aspects of the 9-Trails race is its number of fantastic volunteers encouraging and fueling racers at each station. Dorsey works the aid station at the Romero Canyon turnaround, the halfway point of the race, and at the end of the previous 9-Trails races she has greeted each runner at the Jesusita Trailhead finish line, sometimes waiting well into the night.

"I’ll be there with a hug and a hot bowl of soup," said Dorsey. "It’s all worth it then. A lot of times I’ve had people fall into my arms crying and thanking me for letting them do this."

For more information on the Santa Barbara 9-Trails race, visit www.AllWeDoIsRun.com

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