Santa Barbara Tough Enough

Course rules & directions

GENERAL RULES (and heuristics):
1. Please be safe. It’s an open course (no traffic control) and it’s pretty long. Please, please, please be safe.

2. Each team member runs two legs. Back to back legs may be run. You can mix it however you want. It is not a crisis if someone runs three legs and another team member runs one.

3. Avoid having (making) anyone run both leg 4 and leg 7 or 8. Generally, if you can, mix it so each runner gets one uphill and one downhill.

4. Every team a/o ultra runner is responsible for his/her/their/its own aid. A rule of the event, though, is, help anyone who needs help, regardless of team.

5. Obey the traffic laws. The course is open to traffic. We want to maintain good relations with the cops, CHP, Forest Service, etc.

Three tips:

  • When running uphill, your butt is your friend. Stay upright and balanced over it and your body can engage it.
  • When running downhill, keep your feet under your hips. When your feet are ahead of your center of gravity, you’re braking, and creating microtears in your muscles, as well as putting your cartilage on an anvil.
  • When facing a long downhill (like legs 4, 7, and 8), lace your shoes carefully. Your feet will want to slide forward, smashing your toes. Prevent that and your feet will be happier.

Starts at entrance to Toro Canyon Park–a little bit back from the street, but not up at the park entrance. Run too fast on East Valley Road. Take East Valley until you turn right (uphill) on San Ysidro Road. (This is the first stoplight from the start.) Continue up to Mountain Drive and turn left. Go to East Mountain and turn right on East Mountain (this is just a very short left-right jog in the road–think of it as continuing in roughly the same direction you’ve been going). Handoff is at Cold Spring creek just past where the stream crosses the road. (6.4 miles, total climb 830′, 540′ drop, net change +290′)

Continue on Mountain Drive, a gently rolling windy road. Just before the water fountains (about a half-mile from the creek) you can see a stone amphitheater up on the right–Midsummer’s Night’s Dream was an annual Solstice production in the days when the estate was in operation). If you’re an architecture fan, there are a couple of interesting houses on the short spur at the water fountain, a Shelton and a homegrown (runners, watch for the unmistakable roof from the road). Continue to Gibraltar. Do not turn right up the hill on El Cielito. The “turn” junction is where multiple roads converge, and a popular place to be confused. Take sharp right up Gibraltar for three miles to wide ‘180’ turn in road that has a line of six boulders and “No Shooting” signs and lots of broken glass on the right. Handoff. (7 1/4 miles, total climb 1520′, 375′ drop, net +1145′)

Continue up Gibraltar, to the intersection with Camino Cielo and Gibraltar. Bear left up Camino Cielo to La Cumbre Peak. Handoff at “Off Road Motor Vehicle Travel Prohibited” sign (pretty much the top, as far as the road goes). (Short 5.4 miles, total climb 2090′, 120′ drop, net change +1970′) (Savor that drop.)

Camino Cielo rolls a little but mostly downhill–the start is ~4000′, Hwy 154 is ~2200′–past Camino Cielo store to Highway 154, then STOP. Wave energetically across the highway to your team member. (Do not cross the highway.) Ultrarunners cross with caution, please. (9 1/4 miles, total climb 610′, 2315′ drop, net change -1705′)

You are standing at the top of 154, the south (west) side, on Stagecoach Rd. Scamper a short distance down Stagecoach and turn right on Kinevan. Follow Kinevan to W Camino Cielo, turn right (to the west) and head to end of pavement/start of dirt at the Gun Club. Handoff. The first part of this leg is the only section of the course where the runner is intimately enfolded by the landscape and foliage. (4 3/4 miles, pretty much; total climb 1160′, 380′ drop, net change +790′)

Rolling dirt road with footing. (In reality, the first mile drops around 500′ and then you climb.) Run past first tower on right to where road forks. Fork goes back toward tower. This happens again. Keep going, to the third tower — where the dirt ends and the asphalt begins. Your runner will be waiting there. (You hope.) Wait for your ride out to pick-up area. (9 1/4 miles, total climb 2000′, 900′ drop, net change +1100′)

Continue on to the road and down to the intersection of Refugio Road and Camino Cielo Road. There’s a lovely moment when the road turns a corner around a ridge and you leave the sere burn area to deep green and and birds and views out to Gaviota Peak.) Handoff. (6 miles, total climb 90′, 1910′ drop, net change -1820′.)

Go right on Refugio downhill on the dirt road. Handoff is at the bridge over Santa Ynez River. (6.1 miles, total climb 120′, 1960′ drop, net change -1840′) Depending on rainfall timing and volume, there can be up to seven water crossings on this leg. For ultrarunners, dry socks and shoes will save you blisters.

Take Refugio over bridge to Highway 246. Go left and stay on left hand side of road, run against traffic. Turn left at Alisal Road. Go though downtown Solvang area. Continue on Alisal over bridge past golf course and Alisal Ranch. Handoff. (6 3/4 miles, total climb 415′, 360′ drop, net change +55′)

Alisal Road to Nojoqui Falls Park entrance. (‘No-ho-ee’.) Wave arms in air with cheerful dramatics. (Short 3 3/4 miles, total climb 510′, 280′ drop, net change +230′)

Drink refreshing beverages, celebrate with teammates and friends and kids, and take pics and laugh.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Looking forward to this race! Could you please post the driving map for cars that don’t have high enough clearance to drive West Camino Cielo dirt road?

Comment by Christina Knapp

What time does the race start?

Comment by Jeff

[…] conditions. The course instructions have been updated for this year. Everything you need to know, possibly, about the […]

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