News

Long Beach marathon returns after one year hiatus

About a thousand runners and cyclists faced with winding roads stretching over 26 miles marked the return from a one-year hiatus for the Long Beach City Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 10.

Long Beach resident Dan Culton sprays fine water mist on Qiwen Zhao, 49, running in the Long Beach Marathon along East Atherton Street on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021.
Long Beach resident Dan Culton sprays fine water mist on Qiwen Zhao, 49, running in the Long Beach Marathon along East Atherton Street on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. Photo credit: Jorge Villa

Speeding down East Atherton Street as streaks of sweat trail behind marathoners’ bodies, Long Beach residents provide pace to racers with an interim water and snack break.

Ivan Garcia, 40, turns towards West Campus Drive on CSULB for the Long Beach Marathon early Sunday, Oct. 10.
Ivan Garcia, 40, turns towards West Campus Drive on CSULB for the Long Beach Marathon early Sunday, Oct. 10. Photo credit: Jorge Villa

“It gives us a good feeling like we’re so busy in our lives we stop, so we did something, and they appreciate it and then just to bring up kindness it’s just the little things that count,” Long Beach resident Ann Culton said.

Along with her nieces, Ann gave out slices of bananas to runners by the curbside at East Atherton Street and on the road verge.

Ann has given over 200 bananas during past marathons, three pieces per banana, earning her family the title given by the community as the “banana people,” she said.

Runners for the Long Beach Marathon arrive at the cross intersection of East Atherton Street and Bellflower Boulevard on Sunday, Oct. 10.
Runners for the Long Beach Marathon arrive at the cross intersection of East Atherton Street and Bellflower Boulevard on Sunday, Oct. 10. Photo credit: Jorge Villa
Greg Dolmage along with friends and family cheer on Richard WIlliams during the Long Beach Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 10.
Greg Dolmage along with friends and family cheer on Richard WIlliams during the Long Beach Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 10. Photo credit: Jorge Villa

“Every year we tried to do something a little different, so two years ago, which is hilarious, we went to downtown with the banana shirts. And then, of course, this year with the banana masks,” Ann said.

Many people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic found that the marathon was a much-needed outlet to help focus on what’s important in their lives.

“You know, we planned a whole year to open our studio, and never did we think that the same month that we opened was going to be the same month that we closed,” Gabriela Bombace said.

Gabriela Bombace along her two sons rejoins with John Bombace near East Atherton Street for the Long Beach Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 10.
Gabriela Bombace along her two sons rejoins with John Bombace near East Atherton Street for the Long Beach Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 10. Photo credit: Jorge Villa

Gabriela, the wife of marathon runner John Bombace and mother of two sons, 8-year-old Johnny and 6-year-old Aaron, opened up her photo studio business in March of last year.

Aaron, toting a neon green sign with the words, “Go, Go Daddy, Go,” cheered his dad and brother as they both reconvened at East Atherton Street. After hugging each other, John returned to the race on his own, but before he stepped out of sight, he looked back to Aaron and said “thank you, son.”

John was a construction worker for 18 years, cracking concrete on freeways and replacing it with asphalt. Work often lasted up to 18 hours a day, leaving relatively little to no time with his family.

“It’s like the initial start of everything right now since he quit his job, he’s like, that’s it, I’m doing it for my family. I think this is what we needed. Now we know we could push whatever comes our way,” his wife said.

Crowds comprised of family and friends cheer runners as they arrive at the finish line at East Ocean Boulevard during the Long Beach Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 10.
Crowds comprised of family and friends cheer runners as they arrive at the finish line at East Ocean Boulevard during the Long Beach Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 10. Photo credit: Jorge Villa

For many of the runners, crossing the finish line indicates a sign of relief, followed by a wave of cheers and flailing arms from the rows of crowds along the course. But for 70-year-old Severino Hernandez, it served as a reminder that his body is not as strong as it used to be.

“Well, it was going good in the mile until from 10 to 13, I almost felt myself dying,” Hernandez said.

Severino Hernandez, 70, finishes the half-marathon in 3 hours but explains his legs were cramping after mile 10 in Long Beach on Sunday, Oct. 10.
Severino Hernandez, 70, finishes the half-marathon in 3 hours but explains his legs were cramping after mile 10 in Long Beach on Sunday, Oct. 10. Photo credit: Jorge Villa

Hernandez, who lives in Anaheim, blames the lack of hard work in his training for his shortcomings, taking him around an hour to walk the rest of the way, finishing at three hours and fifteen minutes with eight seconds for the half-marathon ages 70 to 74.

Despite illustrating a less enthusiastic performance rating, Hernandez maintains confidence in his ability to continue running for the sake of his health.


“For me and for the rest of my companions, what is most important is health,” Hernandez said. “The exercise is what counts to feel good about health because if you do not exercise, the body atrophies that is why many people can no longer walk after 70, 75 but there are many people I know who still run and I’ve seen people who are 82 years old and still run.”

Crowds comprised of family and friends cheer runners at East Ocean Boulevard during the Long Beach Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 10.
Crowds comprised of family and friends cheer runners at East Ocean Boulevard during the Long Beach Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 10. Photo credit: Jorge Villa

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Daily 49er newsletter