After a cancelled 2020 and a shortened 2021, Nite Moves — a Santa Barbara recreation tradition for more than 30 years — is back for a full season.
And event veterans, fun-runners, elite athletes and those who just enjoy a good beach get-together rang that season in Wednesday night with the inaugural runs, swims and party.
“It’s kind of a big family,” Nite Moves director Jay Campbell said, as runners and swimmers began to eat, drink, mingle and listen to live music after the evening’s competitions.
“People know each other — you get to know everyone down here. We’re on third generations now that are here.”
And an ongoing comeback of events from the strictures of Covid is welcome for everybody.
“It feels really good,” Campbell said. “I think for all of us, the more things that are more normal gives us that feeling of just getting back there again. It just feels good again.”
For many participants, the featured 5K, fun run and ocean swims are a fun, social way to get the kinks out.
For the more serious athletes, the weekly timed run is a good way to track progress and keep in shape for more strenuous endurance events on the local calendar — and farther beyond.
Kathleen Rogers, an 18-year Nite Moves regular, gets her dog Friday ready for the run. (Dennis Moran / Noozhawk photo)
Gesa Kirsch, 60, a writing and gender studies professor and author, has been running the Nite Moves 5K for more than five years. The weekly runs over the summer help with performances in other events, and she has set age-group records.
Just recently, on a visit to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, to see old friends, she finished first in her age group in a 10K.
“I’m thrilled,” Kirsch said, about the full Nite Moves season ahead. “I’m happy it’s starting in May now.
“I meet my friends, it’s a lovely summer affair,” she added. “It’s very family friendly, it’s fun.”
And it helps.
“I was very fast last fall after doing this,” she said. “Last year, after running all summer long, I had good times in races in the fall — because I do this every Wednesday.”
She was happy to report a 23-minute time in the 5K Wednesday.
The 1K kids’ run gets under way. (Dennis Moran / Noozhawk photo)
Santa Barbarans and good friends Angela Sadis and Kathleen Rogers ran too, Sadis with a 10-month-old energetic “puppy” Friday. Sadis was a Nite Moves first-timer, but Rogers has been at it 18 years.
“We were just talking about all the people, and all the kids, and just everyone is very healthy and outdoorsy, to be outside,” Rogers said. “It’s a good community event.”
Sadis added, “It’s a great way to meet people — one of the reasons I’m here. And also having a goal is always good.”
For Wednesday’s season-opening winner, 16-year-old Sebastian Salsbury of Santa Barbara, the 5K run was a tune-up for his more demanding specialties — ultra-marathon mountain trail runs, such as the 35-mile Nine Trails. He ran his first Nite Moves when he was 8 years old.
“I don’t usually run on the roads that much, unless it’s training for getting better in the mountains,” Salsbury said. “This is definitely a great training run. I love the atmosphere of Nite Moves.”
Yuzki Oey, a UCSB graduate student, was the top women’s finisher Wednesday, and second overall. (Dennis Moran / Noozhawk photo)
Less than a minute behind Salsbury, the women’s winner, and second overall, was Yuzki Oey, a UCSB graduate student from New Jersey.
“It was really fun,” she said. “I’ve never run this before, but it was a good course, fast. Good weather.”
The evening wraps up with a post-events party at Leadbetter Beach Park that includes live music, food, ice cream, beer garden, sponsor gifts — all included in the $30 entry fee — and a raffle.
Participants can register at Active.com for a single night or the full season. Campbell has an online season special for $235. Use the code: spring22 for the discount.
Participants enjoy food and drink after the competitions, and live music provided by The Mustangs. (Dennis Moran / Noozhawk photo)
There is on-sight registration that begins at 5:15 p.m. The fee is $30.
Nite Moves events include a 5K run/walk; 1K kids run; a kids sand run (no charge), 500-meter, 1K and 2K ocean swims and an aquathon (5K run and 1K swim).
The swim begins at 6:25 p.m. and the run at 6:35.