Molly’s first run up SBVK was flush with water flowing down the Mission Creek watershed which Tunnel Trail travels along. As someone who work revolves around Santa Barbara’s watersheds, this was a treat that may have slowed her a bit. As a trail runner, she found SBVK to be a great test to keep her going with her goal race, Santa Barbara 9 Trails, postponed. Having done the course 3 times, she earned herself a pair of Deckers X Lab shoes.
SBVK Blog caught up with her and she graciously replied even with only one good hand (the other took the brunt of a trail running fall).
Q. Keeping our watersheds clean obviously doesn’t end with Covid 19. How Santa Barbara Channelkeeper adapting?
Much like for everyone else, Covid 19 has provided some new challenges for my organization. Santa Barbara ChannelKeeper is a local small environmental nonprofit organization. Our mission is to protect and restore the Santa Barbara Channel and its watersheds through science-based advocacy, field work, education, and enforcement. Much of our work involves engaging with the community though our volunteer and education programs.
For example, between 5-12 volunteers join us monthly to collect important water quality data in the Goleta Valley watershed or along the Ventura River. We also partner with local schools and provide hands-on lesson plans and experiments in the classroom and facilitate out of the classroom field trips on topics including watersheds, marine science, and pollution prevention. Currently, all of our volunteer and education programs are on hold while we’re observing the proper social distancing guidelines, although we are developing content to engage with these audiences through digital programming.
While our in-person activities are on hold, our advocacy and enforcement work continues on issues including addressing agricultural pollution on the Central Coast, the City of SB’s future water supply portfolio, maintaining minimum water level flows in the Ventura River to sustain fish, wildlife, and people, and analyzing our water quality data. We are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year, and although our big fundraiser and celebratory gala was postponed until September 12th due to Covid-19, we are continuing to celebrate 20 years of clean water victories throughout this year. Check out our newly designed website, sign up for our newsletters, and follow us on our social media platforms to stay up to date and get involved!
Q. You were planning to do Santa Barbara 9 trails. How have you adjusted your running since the race was postponed?
I finally decided to pull the trigger this year and commit to training for the whole thing! To me, completing SB9T feels like a rite of passage for a local trail runner in this community. While I’ve spent many, many weekend hours on our front country trails and ran SB9T as a relay with my partner last year, running SB9T in March was to be my longest running event combined with the most amount of climbing in a single event. I was excited to tackle this new challenge!
With the event being postponed a week out, after doing all the hard work, I have to say I’ve struggled with maintaining the same focus to be ready for this event in June. Instead of spending lots of time running on the course, I’ve been maintaining a decent base but exploring quieter trails in our county such as Bill Wallace, Baron Ranch, and some back country trails. SBVK became the motivation for a bigger front country trail run on early Friday mornings, when Tunnel Trail would be quietest. I was gearing up for some bigger runs in theses next few weeks, but in an unfortunate turn of events, I broke my wrist in a fall running down Rattlesnake Connector (after hitting White Mountain Peak!) and will be taking it easy for the next few weeks instead. It seems like my SB9T challenge will have to wait for a future date!
Q. You did SBVK 3 times. What did you learn over those runs?
My first time running the SBVK course was following several awesome late season rain events, which meant Mission Falls was running! Seeing this waterfall is a rare and infrequent treat because you need the right amount of rain over the right amount of time. Additionally, the weather pattern that brought the rain, brought cold enough temperatures to drop snow on the San Rafaels in the backcountry! All this to say, I was very distracted by the incredible scenery and conditions on that first challenge attempt and I stopped a lot to photo document the morning.
My next two attempts were several weeks later when all the flowing water had dried up and snow had melted. The trail was still beautiful, but the scenery much more “regular” so I was able to focus on the challenge and was motivated to try to achieve a time that would keep me in the top 10 ladies on Strava. I’m not a professional runner, nor do I have a running coach, but I was happy to see that with each attempt, I was able to shave a little time off from my previous attempt at the VK and I also PR’d on the technical Tunnel Trail segment. So, I would say focus, motivation, and familiarity with the trail are all important elements to be successful in a virtual challenge! I also have to give a shout out to my partner and pup who joined me and motivated me on each attempt, although neither tracks their activities on Strava!