Laura Lara, 31, like many half-marathoners who diverted Livingston and kept running down Ocean Boulevard, prepared for her run by running on the river bed near her home.
Her 6-year-old daughter Aubrey has cranial frontonasal dysplasia that causes the skull and other facial structures to malform.
“They told me that she wasn’t going to be able to see and now she’s in cheer and plays baseball,” Lara said. “I’m running because they say she couldn’t but … if she can do it, I can do it. For my daughter, I have to finish.”
Lara was among over 15,000 runners who were united under cool skies to participate in the 34th annual Long Beach Marathon Sunday.
As thousands of runners wiped sweat off their brows, crowds of onlookers lined up along the finish line near Shoreline Village to cheer them on.
The race kicked off at 6 a.m. and after two hours, 25 minutes and 43 seconds of running from Rainbow Lagoon to shortly after Alamitos Beach, Christopher Mocko finished in first place and won $1,500.
The marathon is hosted by Motiv Running, an organization focused on athletic events and creating a hands-on experience involving the community.
“I would just love to see that grow — more and more awareness [that] this is a great destination,” said Alex Bennett, vice president of Motiv Running. “Long Beach is a great place to come visit I would like to see that grow.”
The marathon was a 26.2 mile route that passed through the Long Beach State campus, with many volunteers extending their arms to help runners by handing out water and nuun, a plant-based sports drink.
Ray Lawson, a 52-year-old member of the Council of Carpenters union, clapped and cheered leaders of the race at 7:49 a.m. as UB40’s “Red, Red Wine” blared in the background.
“We try to get involved in events that will go on in Long Beach to show that we are a part of the community as well,” Lawson said. “So this is a great inspiration and motivation to encourage runners.”
On the corner of Beach Drive and Brotman Hall, harmonious and acid bass sounds of Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” were heard coming from a Beach Pride Events station near Brotman Hall.
Adriana Medina, a 21-year-old marketing major and minor in communication studies, said she knows the challenges that the runners endure, which is why she encourages the runners.
“I love this because I used to do cross-country in high school and know how much it means to go through this race,” Medina said.
Chrissy Nguyen, 34, signed up for the Beach City Challenge, in which she is required to do three consecutive marathons, the last one being Long Beach.
“I just thought, ‘hey, I want to get healthier to prove [to] myself [that] I can do it. I went through some life changes, I had a child, I went through a breakup and now I’m just coming out [on] the other side a lot stronger,” Nguyen said. “I feel stronger mentally and physically.”