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Chris Braden Comes Full Circle with Santa Barbara Triathlon Long-Course Win

Dos Pueblos alum, women's champion Savannah Dearden victorious in their race debuts

Dos Pueblos alum Chris Braden set a course record in winning the Santa Barbara Triathlon long course in his debut. Click to view larger
Dos Pueblos alum Chris Braden set a course record in winning the Santa Barbara Triathlon long course in his debut. (JC Corliss/Noozhawk photo)

Chris Braden is a local guy who’s competed in triathlons all over the world. But he’d never done the Santa Barbara Triathlon.

Braden, 26, made his debut in Saturday’s long-course race and set a course record in running away with the title. His winning time of 2 hours, 40 minutes, 39 seconds  over the 1-mile swim, 34-mile bike and 10-mile run beat the previous mark of 2:41.29 set by Jason Pedersen last year.  Seth Totten of Santa Clarita came in second place (2:49.25) and Jason Smith (2:50.22) finished third. Previously noted second-place finisher Campbell Schengel was disqualified.

Savannah Dearden won the women’s title on her 23rd birthday. Click to view larger
Savannah Dearden won the women’s title on her 23rd birthday. (JC Corliss/Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara’s Savannah Dearden celebrated her 23rd birthday by winning the women’s title in her first appearance and her longest race. She crossed the finish line at the Cabrillo Arts Pavilion in 3:19.54, which, coincidently, was 23rd overall.

“A perfect birthday,” said Dearden, a biotechnology engineer at Apeel Sciences in Santa Barbara. She said she wasn’t going to do Sunday’s sprint-course event. “I just want to relax, eat some ice cream tonight and not worry about racing tomorrow.”

Robin Watson of Scottsdale, Ariz. was the second women’s finisher in 3:22.15 and Christine Scott came in third in 3:24.23.


Although he’d never done the race, Braden, a professional triathlete who competed in college at the University of Colorado, had been a part of the Santa Barbara Triathlon.

“I’ve always been either in Boulder or out of town in late August, so I’ve never been able to do this race,” he said. “But I remember volunteering at one of the aid stations I think at Mile 5 like 10 years ago with my cross country team at Dos Pueblos. I never thought I’d be doing triathlon then, but it’s kind of funny to come full circle and 10 years later I’m out here for the first time.”

Competitors head up East Beach after completing the 1-mile ocean swim. Click to view larger
Competitors head up East Beach after completing the 1-mile ocean swim. (JC Corliss/Noozhawk photo)

He said it was a joy to compete — and win — on the home turf.

“I didn’t want an out-of-towner to come in and win this race. It was kind of pride thing. I’m super happy how it went. It was fun today.”

Braden and the more than 400 long-course competitors were treated to ideal conditions: calm water, little wind, cool weather.

“The water was pretty much like a pool today, no chop,” said Braden, who was first out of the water with an event best time of 21:10.

He then tore it up on the bike course, covering the 34 miles to Carpinteria and back in 1:20.32.

“I really wanted to ride as hard as I could and not try to save anything for the run because biking has been going really well lately and I wanted to see what I can do,” Braden said. “I came off the bike and the legs felt amazing — it was like I hadn’t ridden yet. That was a nice feeling.”

Rider leaves the transition area to begin the 34-mile bike course into the hills of Carpinteria. Click to view larger
Rider leaves the transition area to begin the 34-mile bike course into the hills of Carpinteria. (JC Corliss/Noozhawk photo)

Braden, who recently was hired at Yardi Systems in Goleta, said the local group he rides with on the weekends prepared him well.

“They’re always killing each other every weekend, so it’s fun to go out with them and ride pretty hard 4-5 hours for two days. Then I just squeeze in what I can on weekdays.”

Feeling fresh after the bike, Braden covered the 10-mile run along the Santa Barbara waterfront in 56:59.

“The 10 miles was really enjoyable. I had tons of people cheering while running by the beach,” he said.

Dearden said she had no expectations doing the longest triathlon of her young career.

How did she feel afterward?

“It was about what I expected, to be honest,” Dearden said. “I felt a little better than expected on the run in particular.”

She was happy with the water conditions on the overcast morning.

“The swim was perfect, the water was flat. It was wonderful,” she said.

After coming out of the water in 26:01, she completed the bike course in 1:41.31 and did the run in 1:10.00

“I was conservative on the bike, considering I’d never done a run this long before,” she said of her game plan. “I wanted to make sure I had enough in the tank after the bike and I did, so it was good.”

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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