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Running in the rain? No problem.

Posted: November 2, 2008 5:34 p.m.
Updated: January 4, 2009 5:00 a.m.

Canyon Country resident Chuck Teixeira hugs his wife Debbie after crossing the finish line of the marathon Sunday morning. Teixeira has participated in all 13 races and finished in first place 10 years ago.

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A few rays of sunlight poked through the heavy grey clouds as more than 3,000 runners dashed down McBean Parkway early Sunday morning for the Santa Clarita Marathon.

The threat of rain didn't scare the record turnout at the 13th annual city-sponsored marathon. About 400 people ran the 26.2-mile full marathon, about 1,200 ran the 13.1-mile half marathon and more than 1,200 ran the 5K Run/Walk. There was also a short Kid K Fun Run for those under the age of 12.

About 1,100 volunteers cheered and passed out water at each mile marker of a course that snaked along the streets, paseos and trails of Valencia and Saugus. The race started and ended at the Westfield Valencia Town Center and some of the busiest streets were closed briefly as runners scurried through the city.

The marathon is a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon in April.

At 7:25 a.m., a dozen Girl Scouts from Troop 8712 stood near the Santa Clara River near Magic Mountain Parkway and Bouquet Canyon Road handing out drinks to the 5K runners. The Junior Girl Scout troop has manned Mile Marker 18 at each marathon for the past four years.

"I think we're important because we cheer them on," said nine-year-old Kayla Konrad of Valencia. "We cheer them on so they don't fail."

The first runners passing through were "coming really fast," Konrad said. "They wouldn't even take a water or anything."

Forty-year-old Vicky Minniss of Valencia completed her first full marathon Sunday after being free of both breast cancer and uterine cancer for two years. She finished in just over six hours.

"It wasn't too bad physically," she said. "Strictly based on the mental side, I'd probably be an Olympian."

She has fought cancer off and on for the past nine years and her doctor said she would never run, she said.

"He said ‘Never.' That mindset doesn't sit well with me," she said. "I think the bottom line is somebody putting limitations on what you can do without seeing what strengths you can build along the way."

Thirteen-year-old Madeline Dignadice, of Saugus, finished the half marathon in two hours and seven minutes. She's on the cross-country team at Rio Norte Junior High School and this was her first half marathon, she said.

"I did a 10K in April, so my dad and I decided what the heck, it's just six more miles or so until you're done," she said.

She's planning to compete in another half marathon in Seattle later this month. She said she was able to finish Sunday's race because she kept her pace consistent.

"People make a lot of mistakes by going super fast in the beginning, so my mom and I just went at a slow pace," she said.

She said she would look at the person in front of her and give them a name and then pass the runners one by one.

"I had this guy that had an American bandana so I called him America boy. I would try and pass him and then find a new person (to pass)."

By mid morning, there were patches of blue sky and the temperature climbed about 10 degrees. Even if it had rained, it probably wouldn't have affected the runners much, said Mayor Bob Kellar.

"They don't mind. If you run in a marathon, you've done a lot of running and you're not going to be intimidated with a little water," he said.

Camarillo resident Stacey Stapleton competes in marathons across the country and said Santa Clarita's course was an unusual one.

"Most marathons you just run on the streets," she said. "We ran on a bike path ... I had no idea it was such a beautiful city here."

Stapleton ran the half marathon in one hour and 55 minutes, five minutes longer than she wanted. She blamed herself for starting the race too enthusiastically.

"I'm a 43-year-old and I still act like a kid," she said. "Once you use that energy, you can't get it back."

Unlike the New York City Marathon, which was also on Sunday, the Santa Clarita Marathon was "a family race," she said.

"All along the condos, people were coming out and cheering for you," she said. Families sat on their front porches and cheered for the runners, she said.

Stapleton shies away from traveling long distances to compete in marathons because of a growing trend for runners to go green.

"My partner and I try not to drive anywhere to run," she said. "We try to run closer races because of the green thing."

Race director Patrick Downing said the recent economic crisis likely keeps runners closer to home.

"I think the sluggish economy has some people trying to stay local. They can enjoy a Boston-qualifing marathon in their own backyard."


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