They made the course tougher for the third Semana Nautica 15k trail run at Elings Park on the Fourth of July.
It didn’t matter to Santa Barbara’s Jeffrey Stern. He bolted up the first big climb and never looked back, winning one of the oldest races in California in 59 minutes, 17 seconds.
Chris Gilbert of Santa Barbara finished second and ran under one hour, coming in at 59:48. Goleta’s Will Gravelle (1:02.41) and Scott Chow (1:02.52) were third and fourth, respectively
Dos Pueblos alum Addi Zerrenner won the women’s title on the trails for the third straight year in a time of 1:07.23 (12th fastest overall). She’s actually won the last four Semana Nautica races.
Zerrenner, who ran four years at the University of Arizona, two weeks ago ran her first marathon at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth Minn., and qualified for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
After running on a flat marathon course around Lake Superior, Zerrenner said the rises and drops of the Elings Park course made it harder on her legs.
“This pain was harder than my marathon,” she said.
Christina Knapp of Goleta was the second women’s finisher in 1:15.05 and Andrea Strand of Goleta was third in 1:16.39.
Stern, 32, has experience racing on steep trails. The native of Mill Valley grew up a mile from the start of the challenging Dipsea Race from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach and has run it 11 straight times. He placed 16th in the 109th anniversary of the oldest trail race in America on June 9.
“I knew it was my race to win, so I wanted to go out hard,” he said of the 15k. “I really wanted to go under an hour. I was happy with (the time).”
Stern finished second in last year’s race and also was runner-up in the Pier to Peak Half Marathon.
“I’m definitely focused more on the trails,’ he said. “I think I’m built more for the trails. I have good quads for the downhill and just have really good endurance, too.
“My coach, Terry Howell, has been working with me on speed, so I’m getting better at the shorter, faster stuff. My strengths are technical and trails,” he added.
Stern works as a marketing consultant for brands in the outdoor industry and also is an assistant coach for the Laguna Blanca cross country team.
He was happy to run an event that supports the local high school running programs.
“I love supporting the running community, and it’s a great day to be a Santa Barbarian and supporting Semana Nautica,” he said.
Dos Pueblos High distance running standout Joseph Pearlman finished fifth in the 15k in 1:05.10.
Jake Ballantine, a member of the Santa Barbara High cross country and track teams, and an elite youth triathlete, won the 5k in 20:18. Luci Karoche was the women’s winner in 23:34.