A beautiful day for a wedding and run to La Cumbre Peak

The sound of wedding bells were in the air when Sara Kida, Brent Pedersen, Ben Haldeman and Katie London crossed the finish line in the annual Pier to Peak Half Marathon on Sunday.

Kida, celebrating her two-month anniversary, won her third straight Labor Day weekend race that starts at Stearns Wharf and finishes at Lookout Park on La Cumbre Peak.

Pederson, a first-timer in the grueling race, was running at the request of his friend Haldeman, who was getting married that afternoon to London. The three of them ran the event and did well, all finishing in the top 30.

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Pederson gave repeat champion Eric Forte a good challenge before fading on the climb up Gibraltar Road and finished in second.

Forte, 43, was as powerful as ever in winning “his favorite race” for the third time in four years. He finished in 1 hour, 36 minutes, 10 seconds. Pedersen ran in 1:37.47 and Daniel Knepper of Chambersburg, Pa., placed third in 1:43.06.

Eric Forte won for the third time in four years. (Photos by Vince Agapito)

Forte’s time was slightly off his 2009 mark of 1:35.06. He said the heat made it tougher.

“It was very painful the whole way, the worst ever,” said Forte, who pointed to Pedersen and added, “because this guy was stalking me the whole way. He didn’t crack the whole way.”

Forte said it wasn’t until about halfway through the race that he began to create some distance from Pedersen.

“The guy who got first was really strong the whole way. I just tried to keep him in sight,” said Pederson, 32, a former cross country and track runner at the University of Arizona who now lives in Berkeley and is road cyclist. “He slowly gapped me at seven miles.”

Pedersen explained that Haldeman and London invited the wedding party to join them in the race before their nuptials.

“So I made a hasty decision a few months ago to do it,” he said.

Haldeman kidded his friend that he should have been well prepared for the race after running at his bachelor party.

“Do you think that 2 a.m. drunken run on my bachelor party helped?” Haldeman asked.

“Definitely,” Pedersen responded with a straight face. “I was doing some training at his bachelor party and I think that paid off.”

“He ran home from the bars,” Haldeman said with a smile. “He was going fast.”

Pedersen said he would consider doing the race again “once I forget how much it hurts. Right now, it hurts.”

Three-time women's winner Sara Kida heads up Gibraltar Road.

Kida, formerly Sara Dillman, was hurting, too, after crossing the finish line in 1:55.13, which was 17th overall.

“The time is not that great,” she said. “I’m not as prepared than other years, (but) I’m quite happy with it. I was just happy to finish, actually.”

Kida took a break from running to get married, buy a house in Ojai and go on a honeymoon two months ago.

“We did all of this stuff, so running’s been a low priority lately,” she said.

Her husband, Geoff, has helped in her training.

“He’s my training partner, so he rides the bike a lot. He cheers me on. He’s the best coach I’ve ever had,” she said.

On the race, Kida said the steady climb up Gibraltar is always the toughest part.

“Mile six through 10 I have to have a mental meeting with myself. I tell myself it’s going to be OK.”

Angela D’Amour, a former two-time All-American soccer player at Westmont, was the second woman finisher, breaking two hours with a time of 1:59.39. Sarah Mandes of Goleta was third in 2:00.58 and London fourth in 2:01.57.

At the end of the day, though, London was No. 1 because she was the bride.

Runners start out in the fog as they run down State St. from Stearns Wharf


  1. Simon Ibsen says

    I snapped some photos of the race:


    Looked grueling!