Jessper Maquindang always wanted to compete in a marathon.
In fact, it was one of the items on his bucket list.
The Hart High School alumnus got his chance at the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon in 2014, and after getting through it, he caught a bug and has since completed 11 marathons.
“I wanted to do one, my first one,” Maquindang said. “I just had the enthusiasm and excitement to keep going.”
Maquindang has suffered from asthma since he was a child, with those issues becoming more prominent when he was in second grade and he began having breathing problems.
“I had my inhaler and didn’t participate in any activities that would be too much for my lungs,” Maquindang said.
These days, Maquindang has less need for an inhaler — he still owns one, just in case — as he has trained his lungs to be able to work as much as he needs them to. That need varies depending on whether he is actively training for a marathon, which he is currently doing.
Maquindang is planning to compete in a Santa Clarita Marathon for the second time this Sunday after first doing so when it was run by the city of Santa Clarita in 2014. This is the first year that the local marathon, no longer a city-hosted event, is being run by Elite Sports California.
Along with the Santa Clarita Marathon, Maquindang has also completed the Los Angeles Marathon three times, the most recent coming in 2020. He’s even taken things a step further, completing the Valencia Trail Race 50k Ultra Marathon in March. He said he’s hoping to complete another ultra marathon — any marathon that is longer than a traditional one — next year.
It wasn’t an easy journey to get ready for his first marathon. Maquindang said that he had to gradually increase the distances of his training to be fully prepared.
“I took it step by step,” Maquindang said. “I went 5k to 10k and then I moved up to a half (marathon).”
Nervousness was an issue when Maquindang first started doing marathons. He hadn’t actually run the full 26.2 miles before going to his first one, as he wanted the finish to feel like a true accomplishment.
“When you’re training, you don’t necessarily do the full amount because you want that 26.2 to be official when you have that official race,” Maquindang said.
When he was first starting out, Maquindang would follow a pack to keep a pace. These days, he’s more comfortable going at his own pace and feeling accomplished simply by finishing each marathon.
“It was to show that I was capable,” Maquindang said of why he first started. “But nowadays, I have a more comfortable pace. Just participating in these marathons still excites me.”
Training also differs depending on whether Maquindang is approaching a marathon or just running to stay active. During non-marathon training, he said he typically runs 4 to 7 miles through the paseos in Santa Clarita. As marathon dates approach, he ramps up those training sessions to 12 or more miles per day.
Finding time to do that along with his day job can be a struggle at times, said Maquindang, who owns FamiLEAD Management Consulting, which has the mission of helping leaders and managers build stronger teams through team-building activities, leadership effectiveness assessments, and executive coaching, according to its website. But accomplishing his goals gives him greater motivation to help others achieve theirs.
“It’s just given me more energy, more motivation,” he said, “because when you realize you can accomplish a major goal, that sense of accomplishment reaches into other areas of your life and just inspires you to keep trying and move forward.”
The Santa Clarita Marathon will be the fourth different marathon that Maquindang will have completed come Sunday. He has also completed the Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach, the Little Rock Marathon in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the Maine Marathon in Portland, Maine.
A travel enthusiast at heart, Maquindang said that he tries to find marathons in different states to cross each one off of his list. He said he is currently at 46 states visited, with only Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Alaska missing.
Maquindang has come a long way since having to restrict the activities he would be involved in as a child. He hopes that others can find hope in his accomplishments.
“I don’t want people to feel discouraged by the obstacles and struggles that they go through,” Maquindang said. “I want them to believe that, despite anything that’s going on, that’s in their way, they can really accomplish anything they set their mind to.”
The Santa Clarita Marathon is set to take place on Sunday at 7 a.m., starting and ending at Heritage Park. For more information, visit santaclaritamarathon.org.