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Thousands run in SCV marathon

Posted: November 8, 2009 10:11 p.m.
Updated: November 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Participants in the 5K run come off the bridge over Magic Mountain Parkway as they head for the finish line.

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While most of his friends were asleep Sunday morning, Cameron Lutges was running a kids marathon with his father and brother.

Unlike the rest of the more than 3,000 people who competed in events at the 13th annual Santa Clarita Marathon, Lutges ran his race without either of his legs.

Using two state of the art prosthetic legs, painted with orange flames and specifically designed for running, Lutges was able to complete the kids’ race on his own, without the help of his parents, for the first time. The previous four years he participated, Cameron was only able to complete about half of the race on his own, and had to be carried to the finish line, his father Alex Lutges said.

This year Alex ran alongside his son the entire race, busily snapping pictures through the finish line.

The kids’ race was one of four different races runners could participate in. Runners of all ages ran in the full marathon, half marathon and 5 kilometer walk and run.

Runners of all ages gathered for the 7 a.m. start on McBean Parkway and Town Center Drive, while U2 blared from speakers on either side of the starting line.

Raul Merino, 32, ran the marathon the fastest, completing the race in 2 hours, 45 minutes, 52 seconds. Jennifer Christian-Herman, 43, was the fastest woman, completing the race in 3:15:43.

Hundreds of onlookers and supporters crowded around the finish line in Valencia Town Center.

A perpetual line of people getting coffee and cookies poked out of the front door of Nestle Toll House Café, which was only a couple of feet from the finish line.

The café opened at 5:30 a.m. — more than three hours earlier than usual — to accommodate the huge crowd, said Woo-Young Kim, whose family owns the business. It is the café’s busiest day of the year, he said.

While munching on an orange slice after his race, Cameron said he’s always liked to run because he likes going fast. This year was an especially important milestone in his athletic career.

“I’m happy I didn’t have to be carried by my dad”, he said.

Cameron, 7, was born without knees or tibias; he had his legs amputated at 10 months old and has used prosthetics ever since, said his mom Kristin Lutges.

His old prosthetic legs were too heavy and bulky to run on, Alex Lutges said.

He added that they would also wear his son out since he would have to lug around heavier legs.

Cameron got his new legs in May, which are much lighter and are able to flex and bounce making them much easier to run with, Alex Lutges said.

The new prosthetics cost between $10,000 and $15,000 each, Lutges said.

They were donated to the family by the Challenged Athletes Foundation because their insurance wouldn’t cover the cost of the new legs, Kristin Lutges said.

The foundation provides prosthetics and other gear disabled athletes need in order to compete, she said.

Cameron’s first race with his new legs was at the foundation’s child triathlon—a 400-meter race in San Diego.

He was the only person competing with two prosthetic legs, Kristin Lutges said. 

The kids’ race is only the beginning of Cameron’s running career. He is planning to run the 5 kilometer race when he turns 10, he said.

Cameron’s determination to run motivated his aunt, Shannon Hobbs, to participate in the 5k run for the first time.

“I got two working legs, I figure it’s time to start using them,” she said.


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