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Triple Crowns

Hills and Heat Challenge Runners

Eric Forte’s annual display of fortitude took him to another victory in the Pier to Peak Half Marathon. “It was painful almost all the way,” Forte said after he made the 13.1-mile, 4,000-foot climb from Stearns Wharf to La Cumbre Peak in one hour, 36 minutes, and 14 seconds Sunday morning.

It was about a minute slower than his winning time in 2009. The hardy 43-year-old runner also won in 2007.

Fog shrouded the runners at the start of the race, but not long after they ran past the Santa Barbara Mission, it was sunny the rest of the way. Many of the participants, some 400 in number, slowed to a walk on the steep portions of Gibraltar Road. “We went from the marine layer to hot really quick,” Forte said.

“This is my favorite race,” added Forte, who averaged 7:21 per mile. “I like it because it’s unique.”

Brent Pedersen of Berkeley finished second in 1:37:47, Daniel Knepper of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, third (1:43:06), Shankar Tillotson of Santa Barbara fourth (1:43:21), and 51-year-old Shigy Suzuki of Ventura fifth (1:45:53).

Sara Kida of Ojai was the women’s winner for the third consecutive year (she won in 2008 and ’09 as Sara Dillman). She finished 17th overall in 1:55:23.

Katie London was the fourth woman to cross the finish line, 26th overall. She wore a shirt that said “Sexy Little Bride,” and eighth-place finisher Ben Haldeman embraced her when she reached the summit. London and Haldeman were going to be wed later in the day at a nearby rustic property. It’s a marriage meant to endure.

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