Bill Rupp ensures marathon’s success in Goleta

The sixth Santa Barbara International Marathon is this Saturday, November 8. (Presidio Sports Photo)

The sixth Santa Barbara Veterans Marathon is this Saturday, November 8. (Presidio Sports Photo)


The Santa Barbara Veterans Day Marathon doesn’t know what life is like without loyal volunteer Bill Rupp. The Goleta Course Supervisor has been a dedicated supporter of the race since its inception in 2009.

Officially the Select Staffing Santa Barbara Veterans Day Marathon, volunteers are the lifeblood of one of Santa Barbara’s largest annual sporting events.

Bill Rupp

Bill Rupp

With Rupp in charge of communication, recruitment and supervision in Goleta, the race always runs smoothly. Rupp decided to get involved after being recruited by Patsy Dorsey, a team captain, and Anita Ho, a volunteer recruiter who were involved with creating the marathon with Dan Campbell and Rusty and June Snow.

Rupp remembers in ’09 how everyone in the community wanted to be “involved the first year as Santa Barbara hadn’t had a marathon for 25 years or more.” He also remembers it being difficult to recruit volunteers because everyone wanted to run the race.

That year he became a team captain, supervising a section of the marathon course in Goleta. Eventually, Rupp became the Goleta Course Supervisor.

His passion for the marathon stems from his athletic past and belief that Santa Barbara should have a marathon that can be a Boston qualifier, as he explains, “Santa Barbara is a very active community and many people will come here for the weekend, as it is a destination race.”

Originally from New Jersey, Rupp started running in college to stay in shape for other sports he enjoyed playing. He was involved with intramural sports and while in college became the race director for their Turkey Trot race. After graduation he not only stayed active with running, but also continued to volunteer for different races. Running and races have become a true part of his life, whether he is running a marathon himself or being active in helping the Santa Barbara Marathon get off the ground and become a race that is now proud to be named one of Runner’s World top new marathons in 2014.


Pacific Western Bank in Santa Barbara

This monthly series is made possible by Pacific Western Bank

Presidio Sports and Pacific Western Bank have partnered to recognize important volunteer work in the local sports community. This monthly spotlight series is our way of thanking those that selflessly give themselves for the benefit of many. To all volunteers making a difference, we salute you.

The marathon has welcomed runners from all 50 states and various countries to the world class destination that is the American Riviera. Due to its large success, volunteers are more vital than ever.

This year's marathon will use an army of 1,000 volunteers.

This year’s marathon will use an army of 1,000 volunteers.

“On race day there will be about 1,000 volunteers along the course,” Rupp said. “This includes adult volunteers (some of whom volunteer every year), volunteers from a local elementary school, junior high and other local high schools including the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria surrounding areas. The local colleges are also a huge support, with some UCSB sororities and fraternities joining the other volunteers as course monitors, water station helpers, first aid, entertainment, drop bags, finish line medals, etc.”

Rupp is the go-to guy in Goleta who contacts the local businesses to let them know when the marathon is happening and what to expect, as there is a lot of organizing that goes on with the course and the timeframe of events. He makes sure everyone is aware and comfortable — which is a big undertaking.

As Anita Ho, a volunteer coordinator, illustrates, “Bill in his quiet way is able to direct many volunteers in his section. There are anxious neighbors and businesses who also need to be assured that the race will not be a tremendous inconvenience to their Saturday morning. Bill is able to do that year after year and more importantly he is able to help assure worried law enforcement and the Goleta City Council that the race will be in safe, professional hands. He has been and continues to be one of the key players and leaders in the success of the marathon.”

He is very familiar with the local businesses now and he thinks it is wonderful that they support the race.

As locals may know, the race was moved from December to November when directors Rusty and June Snow were  inspired by their own running coach, a Vietnam Veteran, and began working with the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation. With their support  the marathon has created an incredible starting line experience and a one-of-a-kind Veterans Final Mile that is meant to honor our veterans while inspiring runners every last step of their journey.

“There will be a flyover of WWII- era planes at the beginning of the race,” Rupp explains. “A WWII jeep is the lead vehicle for the marathon, and the final mile along Shoreline Drive, which is the Veterans Mile, will be lined with American flags. The marathon is also part of other local Veterans Day activities.”

Rupp remembers a special moment he witnessed a couple years back as a friend of his ran the race.

Rupp is the Goleta Course

Saturday’s full-length marathon begins in Goleta at Dos Pueblos High School.

“He happened to be running at the same pace as a man carrying a large American flag and halfway into the race, my friend volunteered to hold the heavy flag and the runner passed the flag for him to hold. There were other runners at the same pace and they soon volunteered and began holding the flag. It was an incredible thing to witness a group of strangers bonding and forming a supportive group while honoring America and its veterans.”

Rupp hopes for a competitive race among the leaders and has friends who will be running that he is excited to cheer on. In the past he has had elite runners from Kenya stay with him at his home and has cheered them on, seeing one of them win the full marathon. Rupp enjoys working with the other people involved with the race and putting together such a large and amazing event that honors Veterans and the Santa Barbara community at large.