By Mary O’KEEFE
Whether young or old, running or walking, 21,957 athletes crossed the finish line at the ASICS Los Angeles Marathon on March 15.
The “Stadium to the Sea” 26.2-mile run began at Dodger Stadium and ended close to the Santa Monica Pier. The runners not only faced “hitting the wall” – a sudden fatigue and loss of energy that strikes each runner at a different point – but they also ran in record-breaking heat. In fact, it was due to the high heat that the start of the race was moved up 30 minutes to 6:55 a.m. But, according to reports, several people were still hospitalized, most related to the heat.
There was celebration for those who did cross the line, which included 13-year-old Ashley Sanford.
“My sister [ran the marathon] when she was in eighth grade,” said Sanford. “And I wanted to try it … I wanted to see if I could last that long.”
Sanford is a student at Mt. Gleason Middle School in Sunland-Tujunga.
She started training at the beginning of the school year, joining several of her friends, but in the end only two friends stayed with the program.
She ran with Students Run Los Angeles, an organization that helps support mentors to train students in middle and high school to run the L.A. Marathon. SRLA trains students by covering the costs for several prerace runs, including an 18-mile run at Hansen Dam.
Sanford had a lot of encouragement from her father and the friends who stayed in it with her. She was a runner prior to the L.A. Marathon but had never run 26.2 miles.
“My dad made me run a mile every day,” she said of building her stamina prior to the big race.
Along with the heat she had to contend with other issues along the way.
“About mile 20 my foot started hurting,” she said. “I walked a little. My friend’s legs were hurting [at the end].”
After crossing the finish line, Sanford was not certain if this was going to be her last as well as her first marathon.
“I was happy it was over and I can finally say I have done a marathon,” she said. “I am still deciding [whether to run the L.A. Marathon again].”
But then she went to the luncheon with her coach and team.
“They showed us all these pictures of the [marathon],” she said, “and [she and her friends] decided we would run again next year.”