Thousands of Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon runners canvassed the streets of Solvang for the 13th annual run-and-sip event Saturday morning.

Hailing from 33 states and four countries, runners were greeted by clear blue skies and temperatures in the high 50s — optimal for both fast times and good times.

The new 13.1-mile race course started and finished in downtown Solvang, where bakery-lined streets filled with traditional Danish architecture and charming windmills were on full display.

At the sounding of the starting gun, thousands made their way from Solvang through Los Olivos, up Corkscrew Hill and down Ballard Canyon, encountering miles of rolling hills lined with horse ranches, fruit orchards, lavender farms and vineyards. 

With more than 2,000 race entrants, a reported 70% were female, according to event coordinators.

Taking the women's half-marathon was West Covina’s Lenore Moreno. She crossed the grand finish on Copenhagen Drive, breaking the tape over Julie Stackhouse with a close time of 1:19:55.

Moreno was reportedly emotional over the victory, given that the race represented a successful recovery from a recent meniscus surgery.

Winning the men's race was Matthew De Villers of Monterey Bay with a time of 1 hour, 12 minutes and 5 seconds — nearly five minutes ahead of his nearest competitor, Chris Gilbert, who took second in 1:16:56. 

De Villers' wife, Katherine Irgens, who is on active duty with the Navy, finished third overall in the women’s race, said event coordinators. 

At the podium accepting his first-place award, De Villers admitted it was his first time running the half-marathon. He said he plans to return next year to race again.

Alex Bennett, vice president of Event Operations, reported that this year's half-marathon event was their best one to date.

The day concluded with a post-race Wine & Music Festival in Solvang Park that featured live music and tastings from 20 local wineries. 

Lisa André covers Valley Life for Santa Ynez Valley News. 


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