Born to Run (the multi-day extravaganza, not the book) is really special. There is no better word to describe it. It’s a celebration of running, trails, happiness, music, dancing, friends, family, support, good burritos and fun.
The event was started in 2011 by it’s Godfather, spiritual and literal leader, Luis Escobar. As he tells the story, in 2011 he and Caballo Blanco (yes, that Caballo Blanco – may he rest in peace) invited a few friends to run on a private ranch near Santa Barbara. That small group has blossomed into about 500 runners and their friends, family and crew… all camped out together running from 10 miles to 200 miles and pretty much every option in between. I was lucky enough to be there in 2011 as a friend of a friend knew Luis and had heard what was happening. You can read about that first year here.
Last weekend was my third time at the event and each year keeps getting better.
My three teenage boys — frequent campers — tagged along with us making it all the more fun. We came on Friday after school. The boys didn’t know what to expect, but as soon as we crossed over “the hill” to see the myriad of colorful tents, flags, and lights, they started to think, “Cool.” All it took for them to really get into the scene was to see one of the many skeletons hanging out. This one happened to be sitting on a car seat on the ground. Because, why not?
There was a slight line of cars and a man popped his head in my car window, “Sorry for the wait. Everyone arrived at once.” To which I replied, “No worries. We aren’t in a rush. It’s all good. We are patient.” To which he replied, “Ahhhh. That (my attitude) is why you are here.”
On Saturday morning we woke to three gun shots (in the air) at 4:30AM and a lot of loud music. That was Luis waking us all up so that we’d make the 5:45 pre-race meeting. The course is pretty easy. It’s two ten mile loops and you just do them over and over until you hit whatever distance your race is running. Scott and I ran 30 miles. Took us more than 5:20 but less than 5:30. As we finished the second loop, we saw two of my boys walking around “town” (the center of the campsite), and I stopped to chat with them. As Luis says, if you are looking for the Olympics, BTR is not your race. The first year Luis barely kept your time because as the clock said that year, “Does it really matter.”
After our little 30-mile run we went back to our campsite. We camped a little bit away from the main area so that we could relax and the boys didn’t have to be around all the tomfoolery if they didn’t want to be. We called our area “the village.”
All afternoon we played games, chit chatted, ate burritos (cooked by Luis’s sister), went back and forth to “town,” chatted with other runners, and just enjoyed where we were.
One of the cool things about where we camped is that you saw all the runners as the made their way round and round the 10-mile pink (or yellow, I can’t remember) loop. So we’d see the 100 and 200 milers several times and everyone would stop to cheer and offer words of encouragement. Reece and I did some training for his upcoming 5K at one point and were lucky enough to hang with a 100-miler as she started mile 80. It was so inspiring to hear how positive she was so far into the event. (I went back and checked and she finished!).
BTR has a little of everything. It’s a serious ultramarathon event. A camping weekend. A dance party. A place to get your Jack Daniel’s on and dance. Or just hang out with your family and friends. Play cornhole, hacky sack, and twenty questions.
Luis Escobar has really created something special and I love it.