Quackenbush, Papazian win Santa Barbara Half Marathon redux

Winners of the 2015 Santa Barbara Half Marathon

Winners of the 2015 Santa Barbara Half Marathon: Hannah Papazian, left, and Cameron Quackenbush. (Presidio Photo)


Returning to the local running scene for the first time since 2009, the Santa Barbara Half Marathon took to its classic waterfront course on Saturday to the delight of many.

Cameron Quackenbush and Hannah Papazian captured the men’s and women’s titles, respectively. Quackenbush won in a time of 1 hour, 16 minutes and 45 seconds. Papazian was 13th overall with a time of 1:28.08. Buellton’s Brian Illes placed second (1:20.14) and Mark Moeller of Los Angeles (1:21.42) was third.


Jeanine Caloudes, 66, wasn’t among the top finishers but was ecstatic to see the old course brought to life again.

“I was just so excited to see that this course was coming back. When I saw that it was the waterfront, I didn’t care, I had to do it again. It’s a great race,” said the longtime Santa Barbara resident.

Roger Desesa ran the course back in 1991 when he lived in Santa Barbara. Now a Valencia resident, Desesa, 48, decided to run against his time from 24 years ago. He was in high spirits following the race having lowered his PR by a full minute.

“It’s beautiful, it’s cool, it’s fun, it’s a little bit of a challenge. It has it all. Good course,” Desesa said.

Race director Paul Williams said he had been hearing the same sentiment all morning. Williams believes the 13.1-mile course is the race’s main attraction.

“(It’s) almost all waterfront. From Shoreline Drive where you got overlooks and you can see the islands to down along Cabrillo Boulevard to the section around Channel Drive and in front of the Biltmore… it’s just, it’s Santa Barbara,” Williams explained. “And to finish right here in Leadbetter Park, and be able to walk down the beach, to see the runners, they’re hot, be able to go soak in the water… it’s just great.”

Over 700 hundred people participated.

“This is of course the first year back,” Williams said. “We didn’t advertise it, we didn’t go after sponsors, we just decided to do the race and build it like this.”

Next year he hopes to reach participant capacity near 2,000.

While many things, like the course, remained the same, other aspects of the race have changed. Traditionally a November event, the Santa Barbara Half Marathon was moved to June in order to not interfere with the new Santa Barbara Veterans Day Marathon and Half Marathon.

Quackenbush and Papazian were both racing in their first half marathons. Each won comfortably, running by themselves out front for at least half of the distance.

Quackenbush is a former University of Washington cross-country runner who was running his first competitive race since the Pac-12 Championships in 2011. Quackenbush, 26, trained for 12 weeks to get back into race shape and was happy with the results.

“I haven’t run a race in awhile so it was kind of a rust-buster here, but overall I can’t really complain,” he said.

Papazian, a 20-year-old from Pennsylvania, is a UCSB student that doesn’t compete for the Gauchos but runs six days a week. The result was a surprise given her lack of experience competing at the half-marathon distance.

“I didn’t think I was going to win at all. I was aiming for 7:15 pace, 1:35 (total),” noted Papazian. “I was surprised because my splits were way faster.”

There was also a 5k race won by George Rubio III. The 18-year-old won by 37 seconds over second-place finisher James Ballentine, 51. Rubio’s winning time was 18:47.