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SOAR runs marathon in rain

Posted: April 20, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 20, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Academy of the Canyons students Jazmin Gonzalez and Carolyn Thio run on Rodeo Drive during the recent 26.2-mile Los Angeles Marathon. Nearly 20 local high school students ran the marathon after training with Students Off And Running, a division of the Santa Clarita Track Club.

Enduring one of the worst winter storms in recent memory, 17 local students successfully completed the grueling 26.2-mile “Stadium to Sea” Los Angeles Marathon on March 20, sponsored by Students Off And Running, or SOAR.

A division of the Santa Clarita Track Club, this program offers Santa Clarita Valley youth the opportunity to participate in a fully supported, 24-week, 380-mile marathon-training program while challenging them to accomplish something truly extraordinary in a noncompetitive arena.

Smiling and looking more than a little soggy, team cofounder and head coach Kevin Sarkissian reflected on the day’s events.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the level of determination these kids showed today,” he said. “By 10 a.m., the weather conditions had really become dangerous, and folks were dropping all over the course from hypothermia. Apart from that, just committing to the SOAR program is tough enough, considering all these guys have going on at home and in school.

Couple that with a long, tough six-month training season running in every condition imaginable and you really get an understanding why today really gave collective testament to their inner strength. I mean how often do you see the average teenager getting out of bed at 2 a.m. to run 26.2 miles in the pouring rain. It just doesn’t happen,” Sarkissian said.

Less than 1 percent of Americans ever complete a full marathon. SOAR is not about recruiting seasoned valley high school athletes; the program looks for any kid with heart, kids who are willing to commit to a truly life-changing experience.

The results continue to be impressive after SOAR’s fourth year.

Parents, teachers and participating students alike report better focus in school, increased positive social interaction and dramatic improvement in overall physical health.

Donations of new running equipment, gift cards to athletic retailers and monetary donations are appreciated. Donors should visit or call Kevin Sarkissian at (661) 877-7024 for more information.


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