Thousands of runners from across the region dared to go the distance at the 23rd annual Santa Clarita Marathon on Sunday.
The run was split between a half marathon, breaking away at 12 miles to lead over 1,000 runners back to Westfield Valencia Town Center, and the full 26.2 mile marathon that took less than 300 runners to the same finish point. With cooler weather, runners made their way to the finish line into the arms of friends, family members and even their pets.
The first-place runner for the men’s group, Nico Colin, 32, set an itinerary of goals to push himself to victory for the full marathon. He made sure this year he won the race, reached the top three within his age range and hit his own personal record of running under three hours.
An Antelope Valley resident, Colin reached the finish line at two hours and 46 minutes.
“Every year I want to get better. I want to eventually run under 2:30,” he said. “So I’ve just got to keep on working. Celebrate today, but then later on go and see where I broke down, where I improve and just get stronger and just keep on working towards getting under 2:30.”
Met by his parents, wife and infant daughter after the run, Colin qualified to run the Boston Marathon, which he last ran in 2016, and the New York City Marathon. Running whenever he has free time, he plans on staying below a three-hour time.
Runners who live in Santa Clarita said the path was familiar and that getting to practice along it made it easier.
One of those residents, Doug Suhi, 47, said he was a competitor and not a runner. After about four months of training, he viewed the marathon as a way to stay healthy, fit and focused.
“Because as I get older, I need a goal,” he said. “I need things to train for. Having an event that’s just local like this is just really cool too, because I don’t have to go somewhere, stay in a hotel, whatever else.”
Valencia resident Oscar Orozco, 30, was hungry to win this time after reaching second in the half marathon last year. But being a resident was a major factor.
“It’s just being a Valencia resident. It’s our local event and it’s our duty to show up and run our event,” Orozco said. “I mean, these are the same streets we train on every single day. So from a competitive standpoint, you’re familiar already with the course, you know the course. It’s your backyard.”
A frequent runner, Orozco won the half marathon in the men’s group after one hour and 14 minutes. Nine minutes later, Grace Graham-Zamudio also finished first in the half marathon for the women’s group.
Completing the women’s group for the full marathon was Dolores Valencia from Chino Hills. Valencia, 54, reached the finish line at three hours and 21 minutes. Drenched in sweat, Valencia said this race was more difficult than her previous involvement in the Santa Clarita Marathon four years ago.
She kept walking even after crossing the finish line.
“I always have to because my blood pressure has to come down,” she said. “After that, look at me. I’m better now, I’m all better. Always 10, fifteen minutes right after. I usually have to keep on walking and walking and walking.”
She felt blessed to have won for a second time after three times running the Santa Clarita Marathon. She said this was her 84th run after 20 years of running marathons across the country.
Thankful also to the cooler weather, Valencia is planning to run in the upcoming Dallas Marathon in December. Valencia also used this run as an opportunity to train with her co-worker Saul Vargas for the Los Angeles Marathon.