Notable Runners: Luis Escobar

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Every once in a while we like to highlight past and present City to the Sea runners who have made a significant impact in the running community. These people inspire, break boundaries and move the sport of running forward in their own unique way. Today we’ll tell you a bit about a Central Coast local, multiple-year City to the Sea runner, and someone you’ve probably read about. His name is Luis Escobar.

Sound familiar? If you’ve read the oft-quoted, ever-popular book Born to Run by Chris McDougall, you’ve heard his name before. He was a participant and photographer in the storied race between Scott Jurek and the Tarahumara tribe in the Copper Canyons of Mexico (one of his photos graces the cover of the book). And if you’ve been around the Central Coast running community for awhile, you’ve likely run with him or had your race photo taken by him – or both.

Luis Escobar is an avid ultra runner and race director for the Born to Run Ultra, Red Rock Trail Run, and Rancho San Juan Trail Run, all near Santa Barbara, California. He’s known for his cowboy style as a runner, race director, and individual. For example, instructions on his webpage for the Born to Run race (held on a working cattle ranch) state, “There will be cows and everything that goes with cows. Don’t like cows?…don’t come. Don’t like cow shit?….don’t come.” He goes on to discuss the possibility of rattlesnakes during the race with, “Don’t wander off trail, don’t walk in tall grass, don’t put your hands under rocks or logs. Expect to see a snake. Don’t like rattle snakes?….don’t come.”

You might be sensing a theme here. His raw demeanor may have been with him from birth, or maybe he earned it through running – we’ll never know. We do know that he’s finished numerous 100+ mile runs, including a top 10 finish at HURT 100 in Honolulu, a top 10 finish at Badwater 135 in Death Valley, and multiple sub 24 hour finishes at the Western States 100.

These feats, combined with his incredible running photography, his high school cross country coaching, and his unapologetic yet caring character, make him a loved and respected member of the running community on a national level. And though he sounds hard-nosed on paper, he really is one of the nicest people you’ll meet. It’s obvious that he truly loves running, and it’s this passion that pushes him to continually give back to the sport.

So if you see him around the Central Coast, or if you participate in one of his trail runs (FYI Red Rock has multiple race distances less than ultra), don’t be afraid to say hi and ask a few questions. You’ll probably end up hearing a pretty interesting story, and you’ll definitely be inspired to keep running.

Cover photo: Scott Jurek running alongside a Tarahumara tribe member, shot by Luis Escobar.


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