It may not be perpetual motion, but the sight of runners streaming along Shoreline Drive every Wednesday summer evening has persisted for a long time. This is the 25th year of the Nite Moves Summer Sunset Series, and it’s still going strong. It began on May 25, 1989, as a biweekly event called Night Moves. It now comprises 18 weekly sessions from the end of May to the end of August. Here are some other ways it has evolved:
• The original aquatic portion was kayaking. It was scuttled after the first year and replaced by ocean swimming. The 1K swim course used to be a straightaway along Leadbetter Beach. Now it traces a rectangle that starts and finishes as the west end of the beach.
• The 5K (3.1-mile) run is the mainstay event. “It’s pretty much doable,” said Jake Clinton, cofounder and longtime owner of Nite Moves. From the beach parking lot, the runners head west through Shoreline Park, continuing on the bike lane to the turnaround on Elise Way. The turnaround was on a different street in the early days. “We had the course measured exactly, but a resident moved the turnaround cone because he didn’t want the runners to go by his house,” Clinton recalled. “The times were too fast because the course was 2.97 miles.” This year’s fastest time is 15 minutes, 37 seconds (a 5:02 mile pace) by Dos Pueblos High senior Cole Smith. It takes some runners almost an hour, but they are greeted with encouragement at the finish line.
• Because it was one of the few races out there when the running boom was taking off, the early Nite Moves attracted more than 700 participants, some of them elite runners from out of town. Now the weekly participation in the swimming and running averages a much more manageable 350, Clinton said.
• It’s become a family affair. There are short races on the beach for children. Brian “Chuckie” Roth and Leslie Wiggins, a pair of high school coaches, met at the Nite Moves seven years ago. They now compete as a married couple, and last week they brought their 3-year-old son, Indy, for his first race.
• The race goes on. That was proved on June 27, 1990. The Painted Cave Fire broke out at 6:02 p.m., and after the run started a half hour later, the sky was darkened with smoke, and clumps of ash started drifting down. “It was like nuclear winter when everybody was coming in at the finish,” Clinton said. The homes of several runners were destroyed by the devastating blaze, as was the Philadelphia House, a restaurant that provided food to the first Nite Moves.
• It ends with a party. After finishing their races, Nite Movers gather in a grassy area for food, drink, and entertainment. Two weeks ago, the popular band False Puppet performed. “It all comes together — the run, the food, the drink, the band,” said Al Sladek, 71, who has participated since the very first Nite Moves. “It was good to have one day a week you could push yourself,” he said. “It used to be almost all men. Now it’s 50-50 with women. There’s something for everybody. The little kids have their thing.” The area where beer was consumed used to be segregated from the rest of the party, but that restriction is happily no longer enforced. It’s not a wild and crazy beer bust. “Everybody’s gotten their energy out,” said Charter Hughes, 56, another longtime participant. “Were on the downswing, ready to relax.” Andrew Firestone provided the brews two weeks ago and did both the swim and run himself. “This is such a fun event,” he said. “It’s 50 percent physical activity and 50 percent social.” And 100 percent Santa Barbara.
SOFTBALL PINNACLE: The Goleta Valley Girls Softball Association is celebrating its first national champion since its founding in 1979. The Goleta Thunder 14U all-stars brought home the trophy from the “B” Western Nationals in Stockton. True, other regions of the country also had “National” champions crowned by the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA). The ASA does not go to the expense of holding a Little League–style World Series. Thus the summer softball season ends in a sensible fashion with lots of happy faces.
The Stockton tournament featured 27 top teams from Hawai‘i to the Rockies. As usual, the California teams were dominant. In succession, the Goleta girls defeated Pico, 5-1; Temecula, 12-2; Elk Grove, 15-0; Temecula again,12-3; El Rio (Oxnard), 5-2; and Bonita Valley (Chula Vista), 4-0. That set up a championship showdown between Goleta and El Rio, which could avenge its earlier defeat by knocking the Thunder off twice.
El Rio, which had lost only one other game the entire season, evened the scales by winning the first championship game, 4-0. The winner-take-all finale was tied 0-0 after seven innings. In the eighth, it went to an international tiebreaker. Goleta’s Chloe Wells was automatically put on second base to start the inning. She scored the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk. Another walk made it 2-0, and with two outs, Malia Carrasco unloaded the bases with a double to make it 5-0. That’s how it ended, as El Rio failed to score in the bottom of the eighth, thanks to a running catch by centerfielder Samantha Yanes. Goleta’s players and coaches stormed the field when Cate Clancy snagged a line drive at first base for the final out.
The best previous showings by a Goleta team in the Western Nationals were a pair of fifth places by the U12s in 1995 and 2000.
Goleta’s batters posted a combined .301 average in Stockton, and the pitching staff, led by Madison Pickett (4-1, 0.83 ERA), yielded one run per game. The team’s overall record was 39-6. Against U14 teams like themselves, it was 33-2.
The champions: Lauren Buie, Carrasco, Clancy, Cassiday Cole, Elly Cutcliffe, Gabby Gandall, Cassy Hagel, Chloe Matson, Pickett, Janet Salas, Anya Schmitz, Rocky Uyesaka, Siena Wagner, Wells, and Yanes. Manager: Bill Wagner. Coaches: Sam Yanes, Willy Hagel, and Tommy Madera.
’STERS STUDDED: “You can’t win them all” is a saying right out of baseball, and not even the surging Dodgers can prove it wrong. The Santa Barbara Foresters were reminded of it a week ago when their visions of a third consecutive National Baseball Congress World Series championship were shattered. After sailing through three shutout victories, the Foresters went up against the Seattle Studs, the pride of northwest amateur baseball. Those teams had met in the NBC finals in 2008 and 2012, and the Foresters won both times. But this time the Studs eked out a 3-2 victory, scoring the winning run on a wild pitch. The El Dorado (Kansas) Broncos eliminated Santa Barbara the next night, and Seattle went on to win its first championship. Bill Pintard’s Foresters had another superior season (36-18), and two of their players were accorded NBC honors in Wichita — Colt Atwood, an outfielder from Sam Houston State, made the All-America team after hitting .500 in the tournament; and pitcher Parker French, a Texas right-hander, was named the top professional prospect.