December cover story: Holiday charity event ready to hit the streets

December 1, 2014

The Inlakech Cultural Arts Center in Oxnard is one of many local nonprofit organizations that will benefit this year from the annual Santa to the Sea Half-Marathon. Courtesy image

Santa to the Sea Half-Marathon on Dec. 14 to benefit numerous charities in the region

By Frank X. Moraga / Amigos805

It’s beginning to look a lot like — breathing hard, wheezing, thirst and aching muscles.

Yes, ’tis the season for the annual “Santa to the Sea Half-Marathon” set for Sunday, Dec. 14 from Ventura Boulevard in Oxnard next to the 101 Freeway to Channel Islands Harbor.

The annual event has turned into a major fundraiser for charities throughout the region.

Nearly 4,000 runners are expected to take part this year’s Seventh annual half marathon, the 2-person relay race, the 5K run and the 1K kids fun run with an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 spectators expected to cheer them on to the finish line, organizers reported.

Nearly half the race participants are from Ventura County with others coming from Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Santa Barbara counties.

The half marathon will begin at 8 a.m. at the giant Santa statue at 2801 Ventura Blvd., ending up at the Marine Emporium Landing at the harbor.

In between, runners will pass by the city’s strawberry fields and a new business park before heading to downtown Oxnard and the Historic District and then finally making their way to the harbor.

Runners set a quick pace at the start of the annual Santa to the Sea Half-Marathon. Courtesy photo

The 5K run and 1K kids fun run start and finish at the Marine Emporium Landing. The 5K race course goes along Oxnard Beach Park to Rehab Point, where runners turn around and head back to the finish line.

Besides being a good way to burn off those after-Thanksgiving calories, the races have also become a major charitable event in the region helping to collect toys for underprivileged children in Ventura County and raising scholarship funds so students can attend Oxnard College.

The origins of the charitable side of Santa in Oxnard began in 2003 when organizers of the move of the giant Santa from Carpinteria to Oxnard celebrated completion of the task with a toy drive.

That has since morphed into the annual half marathon and charitable fundraising event. Those events include:


Charity Challenge

Those participating in Santa to the Sea’s half marathon, two-person relay or 5K races can take part in the Charity Challenge and help raise funds for one of five local charities: the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme, FOOD Share — Ventura County’s Food Bank, Inlakech Cultural Arts Center, The Autism Society of Ventura County and Future Leaders of America, organizers reported in a media release. The name of the racing team that raises the most money will be placed on a two-foot tall perpetual trophy to display for one year.

“This is our fourth year in a row taking part in the Charity Challenge, and this year we’d love to bring home the trophy for Top Charity,” Erin Antrim, BGCOP chief executive officer, who ran last year’s race, stated in a media release. “We raised $3,200 last year and hope to double it this year.”

This year, the club has designated five team captains who will rally their teams to raise money for the organization. In addition to Antrim, BGCOP team captains are Ventura County Supervisor John Zaragoza, Director of Public Health Rigoberto Vargas, BGCOP board member Steve Kinney and Ventura County Senior Deputy District Attorney Rachelle Dean.

Team captains are in charge of recruiting participants who are willing and ready to make fundraising their top priority, organizers reported.

Team members can include family, coworkers, friends and neighbors — anyone who wants to participate.

It’s an opportunity to build club involvement, improve health and have fun, Antrim said.

BGCOP reports it is offering incentives for those who can help raise money, including a paid entry fee for those who raise $1,000, gift cards to local sporting goods stores for those who raise $500 and movie passes for $100 in donations for BGCOP.

Funds raised in the Charity Challenge benefit programming and activities for the more than 9,000 youth served each year at the 18 club sites, as well as the other selected charities.


Neighborhood Cheer Challenge

Five neighborhood junior high schools along the race route will compete for most spirited by creating a festival-type celebration in their neighborhood to cheer on and entertain the runners during the race, organizers reported. Runners then will vote for the most entertaining school and cash prizes ranging from $500 to $2,500 to be awarded to all schools in order of most spirited. The five schools competing along the race route include Rio Vista, Rio del Valle, R.J. Frank, Fremont and Haydock junior high schools.

And band keeps playing on while runners compete in the annual Santa to the Sea Half-Marathon. Courtesy photo

Students and their families from around these schools are encouraged to get into the holiday spirit by cheering on the runners, recruiting bands, wearing costumes and decorating the route — anything to impress the runners and spread holiday cheer, organizers reported.

Runners will receive an online survey immediately after the race to vote on which neighborhood impressed them the most. NRG Energy, which sponsors and funds the contest as a Gold Sponsor, will award the first-place neighborhood $2,500; second place, $1,500; third place, $1,000; and fourth and fifth place, $500.

“One of our missions at Santa to the Sea is to involve, engage and give back to the community,” said Mike Barber, founder and race organizer of Santa to the Sea. “The Neighborhood Cheer Challenge shows just how vibrant the city of Oxnard and its neighborhoods are.”


Finish Line Festival and Race Expo / Diaper Dash

The inaugural two-day Finish Line Festival and Race Expo will be held Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13 and 14 at the Marine Emporium Landing. Nearly 55 vendors will be located under a giant tent from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 13 and from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 14.

“There’s so much excitement at the Finish Line Festival as people cross the finish line and see their friends and family there to support them. As a two-day event, we’re bringing in new vendors to help make the experience even more festive,” Barber said. “From running gear to good-for-you running snacks, we’re hoping to offer something for everyone as they prepare for and celebrate a successful run.”

As part of the festival, the second annual Diaper Dash will also be held at the Marine Emporium at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13 for babies under the age of 1.

There will be seven races with five babies in each race, organizers reported in a media release. The race is being capped at 35 babies. The seven winners will advance to the championship. The course will be about ten feet long on a small stage inside the Finish Live Festival and Race Expo tent. Coaches stand at each end of the stage: one starts the baby off and the other cheers the baby to the finish line. The babies must crawl. Any standing or walking and the babies will be disqualified.

There is a $10 registration fee. The winning baby will be awarded a trophy. Babies ‘R Us is providing goodie bags for all the babies who participate.

For more information, visit; to register go to


Toy drive

Besides getting a good workout, the annual running event is designed to collect enough toys to be presented at the 11th annual “Santa to the Sea Toy Givaway” at Santa Park on Saturday, Dec. 20.

Marathon participants are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy (of at least a $10 value) to the starting line.

As part of the toy drive effort, the Oxnard Auto Center is holding a special toy drive through Thursday, Dec. 11 at each of its 11 dealerships, organizers reported.

All toys collected will distributed at the giveaway.

“We’re really excited to have the Oxnard Auto Center as a partner in this endeavor,” Barber said. “I think the dealerships will help us expand our reach into the community, and ultimately collect more toys for families in need at Christmas. Our goal this year is to collect 5,000 toys, from participating runners and through toy collection boxes.”

A designated toy bin will be inside each of the Oxnard Auto Center’s 11 dealerships and will be available to anyone who wishes to drop off a toy.

All half marathon and 5K races are USA Track and Field certified and will be chip timed by Gemini. A computer chip is placed on the shoe of every runner. When the runner crosses the finish line, two electronic mats send a signal to the computer, which records the runner’s time to one-thousandth of a second (.000).

All participants must register before the race; there is no race-day registration. Runners can register online at

Presenting sponsor of the event is the Oxnard Auto Center; Gold level sponsors are City of Oxnard, NRG Energy, Marine Emporium Landing and Mayerson Marketing & Public Relations; Silver level includes Don Francisco’s Coffee, Port of Hueneme, Ventura County Star, The Collection RiverPark and Whole Foods Market Oxnard; and Bronze level includes 24 Hour Fitness, Costco, CEP America, Essentia, Oxnard Children’s Dental Group, Powerade, PowerBar, Quinn, Ventura County Transportation Commission, Rabobank, CBC Federal Credit Union, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Timex Ironman, UPS, Vintage Marina Partners, Travis Agricultural Construction, SoCal Gas, PODS, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme, and Dignity Health.

Supporting sponsors include Michelob Ultra, Dole, Smart Shuttle, York’s Core and Fitness and Union Bank; Scholarship Program Partners include Gene Haas Foundation and Oxnard College Foundation; and Santa’s Helpers include Macaroni Kid, Island Packers, Jersey Mike’s Subs, KADY TV, Roadrunner Sports, Opolo Vineyards, Oxnard City Corps, Pizza Man Dan’s, Salonpas, Taconic Biosciences, the Kitchen and Total Barricade. The Official Host Hotel is Holiday Inn Express Port Hueneme, and other hotel partners include Best Western Oxnard Inn, Hampton Inn Channel Islands Harbor and Residence Inn by Marriott at River Ridge.

For more information or to register, visit or call race organizer Mike Barber at 805-485-7233.

Courtesy photo

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