Santa Barbara Marathon - Finisher!

On Saturday November 23, 2012, we ran the Santa Barbara Marathon (yep, Saturday, not Sunday)
The day started off early with a 4am wake-up call for some of the runners. We left for the shuttle spot at UCSB at 5:30am, with temps in the low 40s and 10 mph winds. The shuttles were taking both full and half marathoners to their respective starting points. The half was supposed to start at 7:15, the full at 7:30.
Busses for the full were flawless; almost no waiting, direct to Dos Pueblos High School where we were able to hang out in the warm gym until the starting gun went off. The half had some challenges with logistics which caused both events to start 20+ minutes later than planned. Overall, there were about 1000 full and 5000 half runners. When we started just before 8am, the temps were low 50s and sunny.
The initial 9 mile loop was fairly flat, passing the Santa Barbara Airport, UCSB, Isla Vista (where we got a brief peak at the ocean) and then back past the high school. We then headed south towards the Wharf.
A significant part of the course was on the eastern side of Hwy 101, which meant we didn't see the coast - at all. However, the sun was out, the wind (which would be a factor at the finish) was still calm and the course had beautiful orange groves and other scenery that is hard to beat in November.
Miles 9-14 or so were on a bike path that kept me on my toes; bridges, turns, dips, etc. Miles 21 - 23 were mostly downhill with the only significant hill at Mile 23. We had heard about the 170 feet of incline, but didn't think much of it based on the map. Chris was able to (as usual) cruise right up the hill. I was left crawling on my knees, begging for it to end. Ok, not really, but it kind of felt that way :-)

Once we hit the top of the hill the ocean re-appeared, which was fantastic. We ran past La Mesa and Shoreline parks, which had great ocean views and made it all worth it. The adrenaline kicked in hard and the last 2.5 miles (downhill) made for a fast, but windy finish just past Leadbetter Beach.
Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization – Well organized, marked course. Full marathon transportation was fine but race started late. Grade: B

Course - A few scenic views, spectacular ocean views for last 2.5 miles . Grade: B

Aid-stations - Frequent aid-stations with water that wasn't from a garden hose. No Gatorade. Plenty of volunteers. Grade: B

Swag – Nice medal and dri-fit short sleeve shirt.  Grade: B+