Marube, Couch pace Santa Barbara Veterans Day Half-Marathon

Santa Barbara Half Marathon

Women’s champion Kelly Couch, right, runs during the final mile with second-place women’s finisher Emily Shertzer on her back. (John Dvorak/Presidio Sports Photos)


Moninda Marube defended his Santa Barbara Veterans Day Half Marathon title on Saturday and Kelly Couch became a new winner in the women’s race, leading almost 3,000 runners across the 13.1-mile course.

Starting at UCSB’s University Plaza, the race marched out onto Highway 217 past the Airport and Goleta Beach, ultimately finishing at Leadbetter Beach Park in Santa Barbara. The final mile of the course along Shoreline Park was lined with American Flags commemorating Veterans Day.

Moninda Marube became a two-time Santa Barbara Half-Marathon champion.

Moninda Marube became a two-time Santa Barbara Half-Marathon champion.

Marube’s winning pace was one hour, eight minutes and 41 seconds. Goleta’s Sean Harrington was second with a time of 1:11:27, and in third was Santa Barbara’s Alex Heuchert at 1:11:43. Couch captured the women’s race in a time of 1:22:47.


“Today, I came to run and not race. I have endurance, not as much speed, but it feels good to win for the fourth time here,” said Marube, who also has won the Santa Barbara full-length marathon in 2010 and 2011.

The women’s second-place finisher, Emily Shertzer, is part of the National Guard’s All-Guard Team that competes at various marathons throughout the year. Shertzer, from Jonestown,Pennsylvania, was one of almost two dozen active National Guardsmen that came to Santa Barbara from all over the country to run in the race and participate in Veterans Day Weekend activities.

“A lot of people aren’t aware that the National Guard offers a running program,” Shertzer said. “Especially kids who are in high school or college, and they want to look to continue running. It’s usually an individual sport, so the fact that we can offer a team aspect and a job, there’s generally some pretty good interest.”

The Veterans Day celebration attracted plenty of runners connected to the Armed Forces. There were an estimated 220 veterans or active personnel who raced.

One veteran, Santa Barbara local John Gavin, ran the race barefoot in an effort to raise money for the Santa Barbara Boys & Girls Club. He said his feet felt pretty good after the race, keeping a little in the tank because he wanted to make sure he finished.

“Right now they don’t feel much different than on most average days,” Gavin said, still barefoot, shortly after finishing.

After getting a generous pledge from celebrity chef Ina Garten, Gavin spent the time training to successfully run 13.1 miles on pavement.

“It’s just like training for a regular half-marathon just without your shoes on,” Gavin said.