WeissCrax: The ‘Main’ Attraction

Julie Main inspired a revolution in cancer treatment by promoting exercise while fighting the illness.

Cancer Center Walk/Run has ‘Julie’ written all over it.

To quote that Peanuts’ classic line, “It was a dark and stormy night…”

And then Sunday morning’s 6:30AM Montecito Union School outside set-up — in the dark and in the slow, steady drizzle — provides a behind-the scenes view of one of the best venues in town.

The 18th Annual Walk/Run (10K, 5K Walk/Run & Kid’s Fun Run) is a fundraising benefit for the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara (CCSB).

There’s the usual hustle and bustle of activity, like the beep-beep-beeping noise of reversing delivery vehicles, people pointing here and there, others setting up displays, registration, water stations, etc.

“We are right on schedule. All we need is for the weather to cooperate,” sez Stephanie Carlyle, CCSB Development Coordinator Extraordinaire.

“We’ll be OK,” chimes in Joe Coito, local race consultant/guru.

It will all soon be worth it for those 1,000-plus participants later braving these unusually wet conditions. Plus, they’ll be receiving a scrumptious treat afterwards – the best fare of any racing venue on the planet:  a delicious hot breakfast, served on-site and provided courtesy of Founding Host, the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort.

General Manager Karen Earp spoke on behalf of the Four Seasons Biltmore


“The Biltmore is amazing and has been with us from the beginning, when this event was known as the Terry Fox Run,” states Rick Scott, CCSB President, “Over the last few years, we’ve made some changes and The Biltmore, to their credit, has stayed with us every step of the way.”

2010 marks the second race since the passing of Julie Main – a much-beloved community star and visionary who exemplified courage through her positive can-do spirit and determination.

Main’s legacy continues to provide inspiration and hope to all. Despite having cancer over many years, she held a steadfast belief in exercise for a healthy life.

“Go back 20 years ago and people with then-cancer were told to go home for bed rest. About fifteen years ago, Julie, who led and owned local fitness facilities and Dr. Fred Kass, CCSB Research Director, together developed the Well-Fit Program that set new standards. Patients are now encouraged to exercise,” sez Scott.

And just to clarify, he’s not talking about doing triathlons – though some do so with gusto – like Christine Leech Feldman.

“Even walking 30 minutes four days a week makes it better to continue normal life activities,” he said.

“Julie Main created something that the community had never seen before, that has become, a decade later, the model for cancer wellness,” said Dr. Kass. “She had an enormous ability to create partnerships with a personality that brought people together – personal trainers, cancer patients, doctors and administrators. People were hungry for a solution to a problem and Julie’s passion and focus made it happen in a way that would now be difficult to duplicate.”

“She also had the uncanny ability to take this event and help us see the greater potential,” adds Jack Bianchi, local philanthropist, USA Triathlon & Cycling Coach and cancer survivor. “Though led by the Development Office and a group of volunteers; it was Julie who got us very excited about it and especially Phil Bernstein, who later became Board President…

Quite honestly, it was — and always will be — ‘Julie’s Day’ in our minds.”

The 5k run/walk takes off from Montecito Union School

Team Cotich

And what a day it is!

By 7:52AM – the school’s parking lot is transformed into a human courtyard – there is life, love, hugs and good cheer everywhere that even a few sprinkles can’t dampen.

10K runners get ready for the 8AM start about a-half mile down from the Montecito YMCA.

At 8:30, the 5K Walk/Run launches from the school. There are seemingly a zillion peeps of all shapes, sizes and ages — plus several little tots getting free rides in their strollers.

COCO Championship Team

Also many smiles and ‘high-fives’ as they zip past this sports photo-journalist, standing strategically behind a volunteer crossing guard in the middle of San Ysidro Road.

“Careful. You’re my air bag,” I kid him.

Amidst this crowded 5K start, 10K’ers begin blending in for the home stretch to the far side of the school.

A few minutes later at 8:38:11 AM, Jeff Bruno — the first of the 199 10K’ers — crosses The Finish Line.

As the official clock keeps ticking, many follow and soon a human sea has swelled on the baseball infield for food, refreshments, photos, presentations, awards and raffle prizes.


A Dedication Board posts special heartfelt messages.

Some even wear ‘em. Among shirts spotted:

Fashion can certainly make a statement





And, of course, the obvious one that everyone already knows:


Scott welcomes and thanks all for their outstanding personal commitment and support.

Next up is Karen Earp, General Manager of the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort who is all aglow at the podium in her orange parka talking in her English accent about this “fantastic community partnership” after Scott pointed out that “not only is the Biltmore a Founding Sponsor but they field a large team, raise alotta money, serve breakfast and then their employees go out and win both the 10K Men’s & Women’s Division!”

And then there’s Lorena Ortiz-Schneider….

Julie Mann Inspiration Award winner Lorena Ortiz-Schneider is flanked by Scott & Lori Harris, Julie's sister

Winner of the 2010 Julie Main Inspiration of Hope Award; Lorena is “like Julie, a model of courage and perseverance in the face of cancer diagnosis. She participated in the Well-Fit Program at the Santa Barbara Athletic Club shortly after finishing her treatment, and is part of the San Francisco-based soccer team that has won five of the last seven national championships for their age division.”

A Gaucho alum; she was recently celebrated by UCSB’s soccer program as both the men’s and women’s team hosted a “Kick Cancer Breast Cancer Awareness Night” in her honor.


The raffle prizes are claimed, including The Grand Finale: airfare and a week’s lodging to a Hawaiian resort – yes, provided courtesy of the Four Season’s Biltmore Resort and the winner is … do- that-drum-roll-thing-in-your-head-here …. Lori Harris, who just happens to be … Julie Main’s sister!!

Then the crowd begins to wane.

By 11AM, ‘it’s s wrap.’

The delivery trucks are back.

Beep … beep … beep …

The Biltmore and Montecito County Club team finalize packing their equipment after yet another “fantastic” event.

It’s already been an incredible day.  Thanks to many. Thanks to Julie Main.

And in true testament of the warm human spirit within our kindred Santa Barbara community — not one person complained about the challenging conditions on this wet, drizzly day.

And the weather forecast for later?

Yes, another “dark and stormy night…”


Cancer Center of SB Run/Walk by the 2010 Numbers

  • # of total registered participants: 1078
  • # actually crossing The Finish Line: 915
  • Best 10K times:

–       Men’s: 38:11 by Ben Bruno

–       Women’s: 42:20 by Christine Bjelland

–       Both are Four Seasons Biltmore Resort staffers.

  • After a dramatic weight-loss and now running with her cool sister-in-law, Virginia Napoli, 33 of Nipomo achieves a 32:28 PR (Personal Record) in her first-ever 5K;
  • In the 5KSingle-Digits’ Category – Santa Barbara’s Connor Hess, age 8 (24:25) places 1st & Jake Ballantine, 9 (25:44) finishes 2nd. Goleta’s Jake Hammel, 9 (27:42) lands 3rd & SB’s C.J. Rodriquez, 8 (28:11) takes 4th. You’ll be hearing more about these young phenoms in the future…
  • Family Affair: Best 5K time of 19:03 (6:03 average minute/mile) is posted by Dos Pueblos High School Frosh Tanner Neal, 15 whose Dad, Matt is CCSB’s Associate Development Director. Young Tanner was quietly running with all the love in his heart for someone near & dear – his Mom, Kenon – a four-time cancer survivor;
  • The “I Love COCO” team — in memory of Jaime Laguette-Stevens, a former Cancer Center patient who passed away earlier in 2010 – amazingly raises an average of$2, 732 per participant — the highest per capita total amongst all 36 teams;
  • Since the inception of this event 18 years ago – over $2,000,000 in funding has now been directed to the Clinical Research Program at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara.
  • 100% of the S100K+ proceeds raised this year benefit local cancer research;

Special thanks to Lindsay Groark, CCSB Public Relations Coordinator, for assisting with race info & data.

And in the interest of full journalistic disclosure: Thanks & congrats to Brian Dutter for actually finishing 22nd overall and for subbing for me at the last minute.

Also special thanks to the Four Season Biltmore & Montecito Country Club staffers for the incredible Five-Star support



  1. Awesome to see such a great turnout! Inspiring!

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