For the first time since the start of COVID-19 pandemic, the Santa Barbara Triathlon returned to a two-day event starting Saturday.
“It was a great day and it went very smoothly. I dare to say it went off without a hitch. The athletes were excited to be here and we were excited to have them. The venue looked fantastic. It was a great vibe. This is a race that athletes really love. Santa Barbara is iconic – we live here for a reason,” Elizabeth Rodrigues, race director and co-owner of the Santa Barbara Triathlon, told the News-Press. Saturday saw about 550 participants included relay teams of two to three people.
Mrs. Rodrigues co-owns the race with her husband, Gerry. They purchased the race from Joe Coito at the end of 2020 when Mr. Coito moved his family to Texas. Mrs. Rodrigues emphasized that they wanted to assure the community that even though Mr. Coito is gone, the race will remain.
“We are here and we plan on being here for years to come,” Mrs. Rodrigues told the News-Press.
“We were here last year. We were one of the first events allowed to go live. We were the first live event due to the timing post pandemic. It was a one-day event. We had to cap the field at 1,000 people. We were back to normal this year with our two day format. It was nice to finalize that normal life that we had and missed and do what we love to do and be able to do it over two days,” said Mrs. Rodrigues. 2021 was the first year that Mr. & Mrs. Rodrigues put on the race as owners.
Coming in first in Saturday’s long course was Santa Barbara’s own Jason Smith, while second place went to Adam Goulet from Bend, Oregon. Other Santa Barbara residents who took part are Sarah Terry, who came in 12th, and Dan Cicileo, who came in 13th.
“It was spectacular for us as race organizers as well as for the athletes who were able to win the race and be on the podium,” said Mrs. Rodrigues.
Participating clubs included the Tri Club of San Diego, LA Tri CLub, Tower 26 and the Triathlon Club of Monterey. Additionally, the Santa Barbara Triathlon Club had over 60 members participate.
“It was great. A little overwhelming at the start. That moment of silence when it all came together and when the gun is about to go off, there’s a lot of relief in that it all came together. It’s really something special to see it come together and watch that first group of swimmers go into the water,” said Mrs. Rodrigues.
“We are closing out the first twelve months of being back outside doing what we love in a post pandemic environment. There is such an energy to being back outside doing what we love. Looking around at the venue as I’m cleaning up and getting ready for day two, I’m really grateful. After eight months of preparation it was finally a go. This is an event we cannot do without the community’s support including the city, California Highway Patrol and the police. This event is a family affair,” said Mrs. Rodrigues.
This year’s sponsors include Montecito Bank and Trust, Hoka, Tower 26 and Base Nutrition.
Sunday’s continuation of the event is really a day about family and community.
“Our events are geared towards making sure there is something good for everyone,” said Mrs. Rodrigues.
There is a short distance triathlon which includes a women’s only division which has seen lots of growth in the last few years. There is also a parent-child division which usually includes about 70 participants. There is also a 1-mile open water swim and a 5k run.
“We are re-branding the event while always staying true to our triathlon roots. We want to create an event where there is something for everyone to come to the beach in the last weekend of the summer and be active and healthy and have a great time as we close the summer out,” said Mrs. Rodrigues.
The beneficiary of this year’s triathlon is the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. The fundraising goal is $5,000, of which Hoka has made a $1,000 dollar donation. The race owners also plan on making a contribution. If you would like to donate, you can do so at https://donate.foodbanksbc.org/campaign/santa-barbara-triathlon-2022/c421014.
To learn more about the race, go to https://www.santabarbaratriathlon.com.