September 2015 Journal Plus Magazine

Page 10



luis escobar

local Track coach and photographer takes on 100-mile ultra marathons By Heather Young


uis Escobar is a high school cross country coach and professional photographer in Santa Maria. He also can run 135 miles in less than 48 hours through the desert.

This summer he ran 100 miles in the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run June 27 and 28, starting in Squaw Valley at Lake Tahoe and ending in Auburn. The course climbs more than 18,000 feet and descends nearly 23,000 feet. He finished it in just under 29 hours. “I’ve done much worse,” Escobar said. “Just the thought of starting and finishing 100 miles is a great accomplishment.” The 52-year-old has completed more than 100-mile races as an ultra runner since he got started running long races in 1990. “It is a fun thing to do,” Escobar said about running. “It’s a beautiful and natural thing to do. Our bodies are designed to be outside and moving.” He’s participated in the Badwater 135 ultra marathon three times and did the course once on his own. “I’ve done it three times as part of the race; I felt the next step would be to do it independently,” Escobar said. “I was right. It was very much a more pure experience to be in the desert alone as opposed to with 90 other people.”

runners transition from just running to climbing a mountain. The start in Death Valley is 280 feet below sea level and the finish line is 8,300 feet above sea level. The runner has a total of 13,000 feet of ascent. “A really good athlete can make it in right around 23 hours,” Escobar

said. At his prime, he said he finished the run seventh out of 90 people HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY in 33 hours.

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Escobar didn’t do it completely alone. He ran with one friend and three support people in a vehicle.

Only 90 people are selected from hundreds of people who want to participate in the annual run that happens each July.


“The most rewarding was being self-supporting for so long,” he said. “It takes a lot of support to go from Death Valley to the summit of Mount Whitney.”

Part of that support is providing enough nourishment through food and drink. He joked that long distance running is more of an eating and drinking competition with running thrown in because of how much energy is needed to complete such a long run. For the Badwater 135,

“They select 90 people to do it. People are lining up to do it. It costs $1,200,” he said, adding that people come from all over the world to do it. The 1981 Atascadero High School graduate has some advice for people who want to run long distance: “Start easy, start slow, run simply, run gently.”

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