Local distance runner Chris Gregory and Seattle’s Larissa Kolasinski took first-place honors at the on picture-postcard Saturday in Solvang.
Carpinteria’s Gregory won the overall title in 1 hour, 13 minutes, eight seconds. He finished ahead of fellow Carpinterian Zack Schock (1:16:31). Victor Cortes, a masters runner from Oxnard, was third in 1:19:04.
Kolasinski won the women’s title and finished 14th overall in 1:26.51. Lindsey Young of Long Beach was the second women’s finisher and 18th overall in 1:27.52, and Tera Knott of Costa Mesa was third (25th overall) in 1:31.05.
“The conditions were great today. It was beautiful and running past all of the farms and wineries — the course was gorgeous,” said Kolasinski, 25, who ran her first marathon at age 15 in Seattle. “This is my first time in Solvang. It’s such a cute little Danish town. And there’s wine at the finish line. What could be better than this?”
Women’s champion Larissa Kolasinski, center, is flanked by runner-up Lindsey Young, left, and third-place finisher Tera Knott. (Andrew Minner photo)
The couldn’t ask for a better day for the race. The sky was overcast and the temperatures cool for the morning start downtown.
The course took runners through Los Olivos before making its way up Corkscrew Hill and then down hill into Ballard Canyon. The runners followed Ballard Canyon Road to Chalk Hill Road and finished up Atterdag Road in the heart of Solvang.
Gregory, who has raced marathons all over the world and competed in duathlons and triathlons, blasted off the start line and never looked back.
“I like to take it out hard,” he said of his race game plan. “At two miles, no one was around and I could just settle in a cruise and do what I usually do, which was run by myself.
Runners take off at the start of the Wine Country Half-Marathon. (Andrew Minner photo)
“I know the course, and after the first seven miles, it’s all downhill. I actually felt better during the second half of the race.”
The event attracted nearly 2,000 participants. The field included entrants from 34 states and six countries. In addition, one in five runners completed their very first marathon, according to meet director Dan Cruz.
The finish-line scene near Solvang Park was picturesque as the skies cleared for the post-race wine tasting and entertainment.
More than a dozen wineries set up stations for tastings.
A pair of runners from North Carolina, Karen Proctor, left, and Jennifer Jamison, celebrate finishing the half-marathon. Runners from 34 states and six countries took part in the race. (Andrew Minner photo)