Fred Flintstone look-alike wins Half-Marathon

Aaron Gillen had already put together a rock-solid 2008 before winning Saturday’s Santa Barbara Half-Marathon in just under an hour and 11 minutes.

That he did it wearing a Fred Flintstone costume only added to the amiable atmosphere at Leadbetter Beach during the annual event, which is Santa Barbara’s largest running race of the year.

“I was dared by my wife to wear it,” said Gillen of his unorthodox attire.

Gillen, a teacher at La Puente elementary school who helps coach San Marcos cross country, won both the Pier-to-Peak Half-Marathon in August and the Semana Nautica 15k run in July. Two weeks ago, Gillen ran in his first full-length marathon in Long Beach, placing 11th.

Women’s winner Annie Toth, who won the race for the third time, was just happy to be on the course, as the decorated runner has cut back her running schedule, including missing out on the Olympic Trials and last year’s half-marathon due to a variety of injuries. She said plantar fasciitis has been the most dehibilating, but that it is now “maneagable.”

“This was the longest race I’ve done in awhile,” she said. “My body is not as robust as it used to be.”

Even so, Toth, 28, finished 12th overall with a time of 1:19:19. Including Toth, 10 of the top 12 times came from Santa Barbara County runners.

Third-place finisher Todd Booth took nearly one minute and 20 seconds off his previous best, taking advantage of the calm, somewhat humid morning.

“Usually the last two miles you lose all your time,” Booth said after the race. “The guy who got second; we were back and forth. He didn’t slow down at the end and he just pulled me along.”

That guy, Santa Maria’s Jason Brosseau, crossed in 1:12:16, ahead of Booth at 1:12:40.

1277 competitors completed the full course, which began and ended at Leadbetter Beach. Runners started off heading up Shoreline Drive and through some Mesa neighborhoods as far west as Mesa Lane. Doubling back, the course made its way past Leadbetter and along Cabrillo Blvd. all the way into Montecito. After a loop past Butterfly Beach and the Biltmore, the leaders — who were all racing at a 6-minute mile or better pace — quickly made their way back to the finish.

“It was nice and flat on the way home,” appreciated seventh-place finisher Jimmy O’Dea, a UCSB student who trains with the triathlon team.

Sara Dillman was the women’s runner-up for the second year in a row, coming a few minutes behind Toth.

The locals-heavy event, which benefits the Santa Barbara News-Press’ student-athlete scholarship and the Santa Barbara Athletic Association, also has a 5k run-for-fun. San Diego’s Charlie Prokop placed first in 18:48. The next three finishers were teenagers, including 13-year-old Santa Barbarans Bryan Dominguez and Grant Schroeder.

For full results, see:

(Photos taken by John Dvorak/PresidioPics)