Students, campus organizations and zombies cheered on the thousands of runners and cyclists trekking across Cal State Long Beach for the 29th annual Long Beach Marathon on Sunday.
The 26.2-mile-long Long Beach Marathon, sponsored by International City Bank, started at 6 a.m. near the Queen Mary. The first wave of runners reached CSULB on the 17th mile, hitting what is known as “the wall,” according to Imani Cooper, Associated Students Inc. awards and recognition commissioner.
“Our campus is referred to as ‘the wall,’ which is a mental and physical block that can be the most difficult portion of the race due to the hills on campus,” Cooper said.
University students attempted to motivate runners to pass “the wall” by holding up posters, cheering enthusiastically and passing out water. The members of student organizations shouted to the runners, “You’re awesome!” and, “Push through it, you’re doing great!”
Many members of ASI also went with a Halloween theme and dressed as zombies, with full makeup and torn clothes, while they cheered on the marathon runners.
“I got here at 5 a.m. and took an hour to do the makeup,” Cooper said. “I really wanted to come out and cheer them on.”
Cooper said this year, 16 CSULB organizations participated as cheer groups for the marathon and were sectioned off around campus from Seventh Street, Palo Verde Avenue, Bellflower Boulevard and the roundabout on Beach Drive.
Some organizations that participated in cheering included ASI, sports teams and various fraternities and sororities.
“[The spirit team] is trying to show our athletic support,” said Tristian Washington, a junior cheer squad member. “Their smiles are bigger when they run by. We’re cheerleaders. It’s what we do.”
The marathon included half-marathon runners and cyclists of all ages, from children to senior citizens.
“I saw a couple moms running with strollers,” sophomore track and field athlete Cody Smith said. “I thought that must be tough, pushing a baby for 26 miles.”
This year’s event also marked the fifth consecutive year that the marathon course ran through campus, and some of the CSULB organizations said they wanted to reach out to the Long Beach community.
“It’s a big deal to represent the school,” said Cory Carrasco, a junior President’s Ambassadors member. “We want to show Long Beach that we support not only our school but our community.”
Cyclists participating in the marathon also arrived on campus before the first wave of runners.
“We saw really young kids on bikes,” said Matt Downey, president of the CSULB Pilipino American Coalition. “Kids on training wheels [were] hooked onto their mom’s bikes.
Some of the campus organizations cheered for as long as six hours, from the first runner to reach campus to nearly the last.
“We’re staying until the last runner,” said Sopuruchukwu Chima, a junior track and field athlete. “[The runners] are doing something I wish I could do. I wish I could run a full marathon.”
Organization volunteers were invited to celebrate the end of the CSULB portion of the marathon at an after-party in the Soroptimist House.
“We had fun doing this and by us giving them motivation gave us energy in return,” Downey said.