Why’d you run the Long Beach Marathon and Half Marathon?

It was starting to heat up as people started finishing the 35th JetBlue Long Beach Marathon and Half Marathon. By people, we mean the huge majority of folks who run in the event for many reasons other than finishing in a particular place or with a particular time.

Now, if you’re one who is into time and place, well, Nate Clayson of Utah won the men’s marathon with a time of 2:28.56 and Nina Zarina of Los Angeles won the women’s with a time of 2:45.8.

But the event, for so many people, is a way to gauge where they’re at, what they’ve been through or where they hope to be. We wanted to talk to those people. We did, asking them a simple question: Why’d you run?

Turns out, there was not only a lot of reasons, there were a lot of people who participated in their own way. Whether it was running, supporting or pushing.

Jessica Ayala, Norwalk

Jessica Ayala of Norwalk poses with her friends and supporters after completing the Long Beach Half Marathon on Sunday, October 13, 2019. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.

Jessica: I used to run other marathons. It’s been several years since and I have had personal loss, a hard time and this was just a way to get myself doing something for me again.

I’m very happy, I hit a personal goal without even trying. I ran the half in 2:05, to me that’s a big deal!

Denise: We’ve been friends for more than 20 years. I wanted to be here to support her, she’s had such a tough couple two or three years and she’s picking herself right back up and she’s… I’m so proud of her. She’s badass!

Jasmine and Issa Ezebine, 13, Playa Del Rey

Jasmine and son Issa Ezebine of Playa Del Rey ran the Long Beach Half Marathon together on Sunday, October 13, 2019. Issa beat his mother by almost 30 minutes. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.

Jasmine: I just wanted to do it. I did the full when I was 40, a gift for my 40th birthday and five years later I wanted to run with him. He’s 13, the minimum age. This is the second one I’ve run.

Issa: I feel good about it. Was it close? No. I was 1:49, she was 2:17.

Gus Lopez, Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills resident Gus Lopez said participated in the Long Beach Half Marathon on Sunday, October 13, 2019 in memory of a colleague. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.

This is my first time. Why? Because, I work for a broker his name is Bruce Mulhearn, and I did it in memory of his life. He ran this marathon 30 years ago.

It was wonderful. No doubt, there were some tough times, but I just kept going. Training was difficult, I train in the morning time, at the beach in Santa Monica, very nice, and I ended up here. Now, all the homework is done.

Alma Evangelista, Gardena; Crystal Jimes and Courtney Kirbokopich, San Pedro

(From left) Courtney Kirbokopich, Crystal Jimes and Alma Evangelista of the Fit for Mom Run Club pose for a photo after running in the Long Beach Half Marathon on Sunday, October 13, 2019. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.

Alma: I’m turning 30 in January, I wanted to do one more half before then. This is my second one, I did Palos Verdes last year and just wanted to keep going.

Crystal: I just love running halves. They’re challenging but I feel great after. We run with Fit for Mom Run Club out of Torrance. It’s so great, we get together every weekend.

Courtney: I just had a baby six months ago, I felt like after a baby, I mean, that’s a marathon in itself, right? So I thought ‘I can do this!’ I joined the run club. This was my first half ever. I wanted to do it under 2:10 and I did 2:02. I’m so happy!

Nina Hamamura, Los Angeles (wishes she still lived in Long Beach)

Nina Hamamura poses with her sister after completing the Long Beach Half Marathon on Sunday, October 13, 2019. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.

I love running and I love the Long Beach half marathon, it’s my fourth time. I love everything about Long Beach: the community, the diversity, the beach. I used to live right down the street. I was really sad to move. I didn’t want to. I moved like a month ago, so I was really happy to get to come back today. I don’t want to go!

Stacey Casper, Long Beach; Joe Ruffini, Texas and Leah Ruffini, Arizona

(From left) Stacey Casper, Leah Ruffini and Joe Ruffini participated in the Long Beach Half Marathon together “for the ones that can’t run” on Sunday, October 13, 2019. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.

Stacey: We ran it for people that can’t, for the ones that can’t run. This is my sister, Leah, she’s here from Arizona and my dad is from Texas, he did a majority of the work pushing the chair. It’s our first year running with her, I think we’ll make it a tradition.

Leah: It was nice. I got to watch. I don’t do the running anymore, but it was nice, comfortable; it was a little hot, you know, for them. For me, it was a nice view to a beautiful day.

Yes, I used to run, I ran two or three marathons. Ten years ago, I was on my way to work, a lady going 80 hit me head-on, rolled my car, I was in a coma for about a month and had to learn to walk again. My sister and Dad brought me here so I could ride. It was fun to do it as a family.

If they want to do it again, sure I’ll let them push me, why not? I’ll just watch and tell to run faster!

Jason Ruiz, Long Beach

Long Beach Post reporter Jason Ruiz celebrates his finish of the 35th annual JetBlue Long Beach Half Marathon in Long Beach Sunday, October 13, 2019. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

It started off as an assignment, but truthfully, I missed running. I had become somewhat of a runner over the past decade. You know, those weird people that actually like doing it? I feel like it helps me connect better to this city that I cover as I discover new places while out on new run routes.

Running is both a very lonely but communal sport. I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve passed by another stranger out for a solo run and when we cross paths we punctuate it with a nod and a smile. It’s the code, and it reminds you that while you’re out on the road alone that morning, you’re part of countless people across the globe that are fighting that same battle.

Runners, I feel, exhibit a certain kind of empathy that is often missing in our world. Now that I’ve gotten back in the game I think I’ll try and continue these weekly runs I’ve started to carve out time for again. Maybe I’ll even train to run my third full marathon. Finish time: 1:45:45.

Valerie Osier, Long Beach

From left: Long Beach Post managing editor Melissa Evans, City Hall reporter Jason Ruiz and breaking news reporter Valerie Osier before the start of the Long Beach Half Marathon on Sunday, October 13, 2019. Photo by Kristina Borjon.

I thought running the Long Beach Half Marathon would be a fun way to see my city and try to get into running.

Notice I said “try” to get into because even after talking about it all year, I couldn’t quite stick to a training regimen (I have a problem). But I decided I’d still run/walk it and try my best after having signed up with my colleagues who can run circles around me. This will be like team building! … right?

Melissa Evans, Signal Hill

Melissa Evans, Long Beach Post Managing Editor, celebrates her finish of the half marathon at the 35th annual JetBlue Long Beach Marathon in Long Beach Sunday, October 13, 2019. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

At last year’s marathon, I worked as a volunteer at a water booth, glumly filling paper cups with water and doing my best to cheer on passing runners. Two weeks after separating from my husband, things seemed a bit hopeless, a situation helped only by routine: show up to work, workout, sleep, repeat.

When the Post signed on as the Long Beach Marathon media sponsor last spring, I thought about that day, doling out water: Wouldn’t it be great to be one of those breathless, sweaty runners crossing the finish line?

Two others at the Post agreed to run the race as well, and a friend volunteered to train with me. We ran three times a week, at 6 a.m., building miles each week. Another friend joined us on long-run days, and soon we had a little pack.

We finished this year’s half-marathon in about two hours, 15 minutes—for me, a respectable performance. The pain and monotony of routine—putting in each mile, one at a time—somehow added up to way more than 13.1 miles. Maybe hope. Definitely a new bond with those people who are dragging you through the long, lonely stretches.

It was great crossing that finish line.

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Steve Lowery began his journalism career at the Los Angeles Times, where he planned to spend his entire career. God, as usual, laughed at his plans and he has since written for the short-lived sports publication The National, the L.A. Daily News, the Press-Telegram, New Times LA, the District and the OC Weekly. He is the Arts & Culture Editor for the Post, overseeing the Hi-lo.
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