Sunday morning gloom could not stop around 15,000 runners from participating in Long Beach’s 38th annual marathon and half marathon.
The 26.2-mile course began with a scenic tour through Shoreline Village before heading across Belmont Shore, Naples, Alamitos Heights and around Long Beach State.
The 13.1-mile half marathon took place soon after, heading along the oceanside, up Rainbow Harbor and past the Queen Mary.
Some runners competed in the men’s and women’s competitions for first through fourth place prizes, but every participant received a medal for completion of the courses.
Among the participants were local running groups, including A Running Experience Club (AREC).
Dona McBride, 71-year-old vice president of the club and CSULB alumni, discussed the group’s preparation process.
“Our club runs three to five miles every week, and on Saturday mornings we do marathon training where we run up to twenty miles,” McBride said. “We have elite runners in our group, slow walkers–everything in between. We try to be inclusive so everyone can meet their goals and compete in these events.”
As the hours passed and the sky brightened, spectators hoped to catch a glimpse of who would cross the finish line first. That just happened to be Raymon Ornelas, Long Beach State’s very own track star.
Ornelas, a 22-year-old who graduated from CSULB last summer, completed the full marathon with a time of 2:31:06.18 and won first place in the men’s competition.
This was his first marathon.
“It sort of just happened,” said Ornelas. “I knew going in I might have had a fighting chance for the win, but nothing was guaranteed–you never know who’s going to show up in the field.”
Ornelas was on the track and field team from 2018 to 2022. He trained for this marathon for three months by taking 17-plus mile long runs, focusing on his mileage times and learning to intake fluids, all of which led him to first place.
“It was a mixed feeling emotionally, I was kind of overwhelmed but so happy about winning… physically, it had to be the most pain I’ve felt. It all just suddenly rushes to your legs as soon as you stop running,” said Ornelas.
For those inclined to take part in this event or cheer on their community, the Long Beach annual marathon and half marathon will return next year.