By Mary O’KEEFE
One might think that 26.2 miles was enough of a challenge for runners but Mother Nature decided to throw a little more at athletes this past Sunday. Rain, winds and cold temperatures added to the challenge that was the L.A. Marathon.
“It was a difficult experience but it made me even happier when I crossed the finish line,” said Odette Hairapetian, Rosemont Middle School secretary to the assistant principals.
Beyond keeping assistant principals Ron Sowers and Ann Amrhein organized, Hairapetian has volunteered as a mentor/runner/coach/cheerleader for Rosemont’s Student Run L.A. for many years. This was her seventh L.A. Marathon. SRLA is a non-profit organization sponsored by Honda for students who want to run the marathon.
Ten Rosemont students along with Hariapetian and science teacher Stephanie Sattorian faced the weather and ran from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica.
“It went well. It was pouring down rain close to my mile four,” said student Mark Matheu. “It was terrible.”
Katherine Nolte, another student, said she thought the worst was in Hollywood. “In Hollywood the rain was pelting. It was hurting my arms,” she said.
“At mile 10 it was hard to move, at mile 11 I had to walk,” Matheu said. “The wind hurt.”
Somewhere around the 20-mile mark eighth grader Sean Cutler’s ankle began to hurt.
“I was running and it was getting worse and worse,” he said.
At the end of the race it continued to hurt, but everything else did too. After a trip to the doctor’s on Monday he was told the ankle was sprained.
“I don’t remember tripping or hurting it,” Cutler added.
Beyond the wind and the rain was the cold. Two of the students were treated for hypothermia. And yet after all of the trials and tribulations the students and their mentors were all smiles on Tuesday for a group picture.
Rosemont SRLA had participated in many races from 5Ks to Hansen Dam’s 18-mile race leading to Sunday’s event. For a team photo, the students placed all their medals around their necks.
When asked if they would want to run again, even with the blisters, aches and pains, they all said, “Yes!”
“From the start to the finish, the rain and running through the puddles and the wind … it was a miserable day, but finishing made me proud of myself more this time than even in the past,” Hairapetian said.
“There is nothing these kids cannot accomplish in life,” said Rosemont Principal Cynthia Livingston. “They ran [and completed] the L.A.
The school has celebrated the completion of the marathon by the students and teachers with signs and recognition. Livingston also put her running shoes to use showing support as well.
“I ran a few of the 5Ks with them. Ann [Amrhein] ran,” Livingston said.
Rosemont SRLA members were not the only race participants. For many years Rosemont teacher Laura Rivera has taken student volunteers to the L.A. Marathon to help the wheelchair racers. The group sets up a tent and provides water, food and support for the elite athletes.
“We were soaked, head to toe,” said eighth grader Ani Aghaklanian. She and about 64 other kids from Rosemont and 20 from Crescenta Valley High School spent a very wet and cold day at the marathon.
“We were there at 4 in the morning and left at about 1 (p.m.),” said
Isaiah Nakama, eighth grader. “It was fun.”
When asked about the rain Nakama said, “Yeah, that was the bad part.”
When the racers crossed the finish line the group was there with blankets.
“And then we took them to a room to warm up,” Aghaklanian said.
In addition to local students and teachers community members braved the marathon weather. Chris Waldheim and Mary Pinola ran the 26.2 miles. This was the fifth marathon for Waldheim and number 13 for Pinola.
“I walk it,” Waldheim said. His walk is a 17-minute mile. “It’s a quick walk.”
Waldheim is an avid hiker and dressed for the day of rain.
“I don’t think [people] took the weather seriously. I definitely [did]. When you go hiking you have to pay attention to the weather,” he added.
Waldheim said although he was, for the most part, comfortable there were many runners, especially those in shorts and running shoes, that were suffering. He had decided from the start that if the weather was too bad he would not complete the race, but he and Pinola persevered.
When asked if he would run again Waldheim said it was “to be determined.”
“But if Mary [Pinola] asks me … that’s why I started running – to support her [organization],” he said. “It’s hard to say no to Mary.”
Pinola is the founder of the Mary Pinola Educational Endowment Fund.
The marathon is a fundraiser for her fund which distributes thousands of dollars annually to education-related non-profit organizations.
A Grand Determination
By AJ Absy
At a cold morning’s wake,
The rain is falling with a smacking.
Darkness still fills the air
Crowded people roam the area
As the racers gather up.
The stadium glows,
Though no one is playing.
I be announcer welcomes everyone,
Through the loud busy rush.
The twenty-sixth Los Angeles Marathon.
The wheelchair division strolls on in,
As the weather goes calm.
The sun is deciding to guide the route.
These many nations come together as one.
As they are guided to the start line.
For the twenty -six point two mile race,
Their face shows determination.
The determination to win.
Pride is a key
As the air born projects.
Through encouragement and excellence
Is what they shall hold.
They take the honor of being inspirational.
Now at the end,
Where the rolling figures are in sight,
Do they push at the highest.
The weather has lied,
As sweat mixes with water.
The tension of the ribbon is tight,
When the first person rushes through.
As they slow down to a stop,
The meaningful medal hangs from their neck.
They feel a sense of grandeur,
Through the great completion.
They did it.
Accomplishment shows an important moral.