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City holds its largest race ever

Community: Hundreds from across the country, world race through Santa Clarita

Posted: November 7, 2010 11:03 p.m.
Updated: November 8, 2010 4:55 a.m.

From left, Stephanie Mestas, 39, of Santa Clarita; Robin Ditomaso, 44, of Valencia; and Nichole Schweitzer, 39, of Valencia, approach the finish line for the Santa Clarita half-marathon.

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Sometimes a journey of more than 40,000 steps draws 392 people from as far as 21 other states and six countries.

At least that’s what happened Sunday morning, as a total of 3,167 people crowded the street near Westfield Valencia Town Center to run the Santa Clarita Marathon, half-marathon and 5-kilometer.

In addition to the nearly 400 who ran the 26.2-mile marathon, 1,487 people ran the half-marathon and 1,288 ran the 5K, said Pat Downing with the city’s arts and events department.

“It’s certainly our largest ever,” said Rick Gould, director of parks, recreation and community services.
Despite forecasts of possible rain leading up to the race, the runners hit the pavement under sunny skies at 7 a.m. Sunday.

“There’s sort of a meditative, spiritual aspect (to running),” said Mark Vishnevsky, of Lakewood, who finished the marathon in third place, crossing the finish line in just under three hours. “I feel really at peace when I run.”

The first to finish the full marathon was Jose Ortiz, 47, of Gardena. Mandy Grantz, 24, of Pasadena, finished first in the women’s category.

Lino Almeida, 24, of Arcadia, was the first to finish the half-marathon. Holly Kopp, 19, of Santa Clarita, finished first in the women’s category.

Starting outside the Hyatt Regency Valencia, the marathon route snaked through Valencia, down Soledad Canyon Road and back, with runners — some looking weary, some looking jubilant — crossing the finish line at Town Center Drive, outside Buca di Beppo.

The air was filled with a chorus of cheers, clanging cowbells and the jingling of medals being handed out to every runner who crossed the finish line.

Sunday’s crowd was up about 10 percent from last year, Downing said, and added “everyone has a story to tell.” For some, he said, the marathon is a family event. For others it’s the accomplishment of a personal goal.

For one group of runners, Sunday was the finish line for a journey that began in August.

A group of about 400 students from Old Orchard, Charles Helmers and Fair Oaks elementary schools hit the road and ran the final 1.2-mile leg of the marathon, finishing 26.2 miles they started logging at the beginning of the school year.

Co-sponsored by the city and Providence Holy Cross, the program had students start running laps in late August, keeping progress journals in the lead-up to Sunday’s marathon, said coordinator Donna Avila.

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