Interview: Q & A with Ultra Runner Luis Escobar

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Quite the local trail running legend, Escobar hails from the Central Coast of California, not far from Running Warehouse‘s retail store. Luis Escobar wears a few hats: photographer, ultra runner, and high school cross country coach, to name a few. I had the pleasure of asking him a few questions over email.


How long have you been trail running?

Twenty-six years. On December 1, 1990 I ran the first Annual Santa Barbara Nine Trails 35 Mile Endurance Run – I have been trail running ever since.

How much do you currently run?

Depends on what’s happening. At this point, my body can handle about 70 MPW (miles per week) – but that number varies. I prefer to train specific and lean towards quality over quantity.

How long have you been coaching cross country?

Nine seasons at Righetti High School and will be starting season number six at St. Joseph High School. We are in the PAC-8 League and CIF-SS Division V.

What is your favorite thing about coaching?

Life long personal friendships. Creating opportunity for my community. Watching people achieve their personal, social and athletic goals.

How many 100 milers have you done?

I don’t remember… more than 30, for sure. I also completed the Badwater 135 three times and Badwater 146 once. I am an 8 time finisher of the Western States 100 and 11 time finisher of the HURT 100 Oahu Hawaii.

Which have been the most memorable, and why?

That’s like asking, “What is your favorite noodle?” in a bowl of spaghetti. Each race and each run relates to the next. Each is important to our evolution as a runner and person in general. With that said, running 146 miles from the bottom of Death Valley to the summit of Mt. Whitney comes to mind.

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How long have you been a photographer?

Photography has been my profession for my entire life. I started in high school and I’m still at it. I am very fortunate to have a great customer base. I photograph everyday and it is always rewarding. I love photographing people who are passionate about what they are doing. I love my work!

What got you into photography?

My parents are photographers. I grew up in a photography studio in Atascadero, California.

Photo courtesy of Luis Escobar’s Instagram: “With Jurek on the AT – June 2015”

You photographed Scott Jurek on his way to the Appalachian Trail record, took a “break” to fly back to CA and run Western States, and then turned around and flew back to finish documenting Scott’s accomplishment (whew!). What motivated you more – your passion for running, or your passion for photography?

My running and my photography are interconnected. Sometimes I am a photographer who runs and other times I am a runner who photographs. Either way, both subjects are always on the top of my mind. (I’m not qualified to do anything else… running, taking pictures, and beer drinking is pretty much my skill set.)

What is your trail gear of choice?

Shoes – Brooks Puregrit and Cascadia
Socks – Drymax
Clothes – Patagonia
Replacement – FLUID and CarboPro
Sodium – SaltStick
Packs – Ultimate Direction
Lights – Black Diamond
Trecking Poll – Black Diamond Z Polls
Nutrition – real food
Recovery – chocolate milk

You’ve been known to run in sandals. Why?

Specifically, LUNA Sandals Gordos. Comfortable. No blisters. Simple.

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What sparked your connection to the Tarahumara Indians?

Micah True, the creator of the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon.

If you could sum up your greatest take-away from racing through Copper Canyon with the Tarahumara Indians, what would it be?

Run Simply. Run Gently. Run Free.

Tell us about your “Born to Run” series coming up in May.

The Born To Run Extravaganza is a multi-day running festival. It’s has been described as the Burning Man of Trail Running. With over one thousand participants it is by far the largest trail running event in Santa Barbara County. It is completely family owned and operated. It is created by runners for runners and is 100% non-corprate. It is funky and cool and it is happening on May 14, 2016.  www.allwedoisrun.com

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