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Kris Brown, Amy Alzina Finish on Top in Pier to Peak Half-Marathon

Winners keep it mellow on race course that starts at Stearns Wharf and finishes at La Cumbre Peak

In the climb up Gibraltar Road, runners in the Pier to Peak Half-Marathon can see where they started the race. Click to view larger
In the climb up Gibraltar Road, runners in the Pier to Peak Half-Marathon can see where they started the race. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Running shoes of every color, size and brand kicked up dust along Gibraltar Road as runners made their way to the top of La Cumbre Peak Sunday morning for the annual Pier to Peak Half-Marathon.

The 13.1 mile up-hill course — considered the “world’s toughest half marathon”— begins at the Dolphin Fountain in front of Streans Wharf and finishes at an elevation of 3,996 feet.

Kris Brown took first place with a time of 1 hour, 32 minutes, 7 seconds.  Ultra-distance runner Rod Farvard of Moraga was second in 1:35:34 and Cate School junior distance runner Kyril Van Schendel came in third at 1:36:08.

Race director Jake Clinton (center) is joined by winners Kris Brown (left) and Dr. Amy Alzina. It was Clinton’s final time running the Pier to Peak race. Click to view larger
Race director Jake Clinton (center) is joined by winners Kris Brown (left) and Dr. Amy Alzina. It was Clinton’s final time running the Pier to Peak race. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Brown, 27,  is a former Claremont-McKenna track & field athlete and a long-time distance runner.

“I just needed to get out, feel it out and stay mellow," said Brown about the challenging course. "About halfway everything fell into place. I didn’t think I was going to win, but people just went where they were meant to go.

“I’m trying to transition from track to trails. I’m out in these hills almost everyday,” he added. “I cycle up here all the time.”

This was Brown’s first Pier to Peak and while he admitted he was a little hung-over for the race, his running background and perseverance was enough to land him in first place.

The women's champion was Dr. Amy Alzina in 1:51:46. She was followed by two-time champion (2013-14) Martha Blackwell of Santa Barbara at 1:56:01 and Ojai's Anissa Faulkner in third at 1:57:07.


Alzina was an All-American cross country runner at Westmont College and is now the Principal at Adams School. She recently received her doctorate degree in education from the University of Concordia, Chicago. This was her second Pier to Peak title, with the first one coming in 2012.

“I felt strong. It was my own race and I felt good to go for it. It was a fun time out there,” she said. "The secret to this race is to not go out too fast. People have a tendency to charge it, but you have to force yourself to take it easy."

To fuel her body for the race, Alzina said she ate large amounts of carbohydrates and protein the night before, such as bagels and bananas. She also made sure to stay hydrated. 

The Pier to Peak course offers some of the best vistas Santa Barbara has to offer, taking runners from the shore to the mountains.

As runners braved the steep switchbacks on Gibraltar Road, spectators cheered from the sidelines, held signs and rang cowbells. Water stations were present along the way and volunteers handed out “goo” or gel energy packs to help keep the runners going.

At the finish line, runners were awarded participation medals and given race t-shirts. The finish line featured a large congregation of spectators as well as tables full of snacks and water for the athletes. Those who had already finished mingled with friends and family and cheered on their fellow running mates.

This was the final Pier to Peak for long-time race director Jake Clinton. He's turning it over to Jay Campbell, who also runs the weekly Night Moves series.

"I inherited Pier to Peak from Bobby Powers, 20 years ago, and now I am passing the torch to Jay Campbell," Clinton said. "Thanks to all of you who have participated time after time and congratulations once again to today's finishers.

"Hope to see you again on the starting line."

Noozhawk intern Sarah Scarminach can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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