SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - More than 5,000 runners hit the streets on Saturday in honor of our men and women in uniform. The runners took part in the Santa Barbara International Veterans Marathon.
The full marathon, 26.2 mile point-to-point course started at Dos Pueblos High School just after 7 Saturday morning in the semi-rural city of Goleta. The race ended at Santa Barbara City College's La Playa Stadium in Santa Barbara.
The long and difficult race took Peter Kemboi only two hours and 32 minutes to cross the full marathon finish line. Kemboi was quickly followed by Julian Spence, who crossed the finish line at two hours and 33 minutes. The first woman to cross the finish line was 21-year-old Elisa Karhu, who finished the marathon in just two hours and 42 minutes.
Out of the 5,000 runners who crossed the finish line, 300 of them were veterans.
Veteran Dave Miller, 63, crossed the finish line with the top time for his age group. Miller says he is not only running the race for veterans but for his three sons that are currently on active duty in the military.
"It touches my heart, it really does, we are glad to see people still care about the veterans and the ones that are serving now. It means a lot to me and my sons, and I am proud of my sons for serving too," said veteran Dave Miller.
The runners couldn't miss the last mile stretch. It was decked out with American flags in honor of our veterans.
"The final mile was great, it was awesome to see so many supporters, and not just the final mile but the whole course we had someone cheering us on the whole way," said veteran Aaron Ray.
"I think it is important that we never forget what our veterans have done for us and the sacrifices they have made and the sacrifices some of them are still making. So taking the time to honor them reminds them that they are not forgotten about and people appreciate what they have done," said veteran Jason Larimore.
The marathon also helped boost the local economy. Marathon visitors booked more than 5,700 hotel room nights.