SCV to NYC: Run!
Last Sunday we awoke to a crisp and cool, true November day. It was a welcome change from the summer-like temperatures we were subjected to all throughout September and October. That was a good thing because we were headed out to one of my husband’s favorite events: the Santa Clarita Marathon. What better day to run a 26 mile race than a sunny, dry, chilly one. It had been a while since he attended a marathon and a long time since I last did. It was the least I could do as he has dutifully motored around with me while I shoot the umpteenth photos of Downtown LA or to snow, just so I could feel as if I were back home in New York.
We got out the door early enough so we could be at the Town Center — where the race started and ended — ahead of the crowds. I had no idea what to expect. After all, in my mind Valencia and Santa Clarita might as well be Hohokus New Jersey or Punxsutawney PA — for you East Coasters, you will know exactly what I mean. For you South Americans, think Crato. Well, maybe that is exaggerating a bit.
But you get the idea that I consider this Valley to be rather provincial by urban hipster standards. Not a knock on the town at all. Valencia is beautiful in a very WASPish, Burbia sort of way. And, thanks to my camera, I am coming to appreciate it more and more. If we could just leave out the politics of the place, which I put in the same personal category as the relentless heat, this little hidden gem would be an ideal spot in which to live.
Let me interject here what a bright splash of sanity is California these days. I never thought I would betray NY by saying this. Let’s face it, its all relative. We just smartly elected my favorite governor. Yes, that’s right, the brilliant, hard-working, matter-of-fact, Jesuit 76 year old who took over a staggering deficit and a flagging economy from the Ahnold and saved our bacon. I knew he would do it, too, because he turned Oakland around the same way. For anyone who knows the East Bay, and Oakland in particular, it was like cleaning the Augean Stables.
That is in sharp contrast to what has happened in my beloved New York State, where I went to school for most of my life, including university and graduate school. There the second worst governor on earth, after Pataki, was just elected. What a reversal, especially for me. In fact, Cuomo and Christie, the Mobbsey Twins, have repeatedly rolled the fatuous voters of my two home states.
Back to the marathon. What I didn’t realize (and I am not sure how much Geoffrey did either, Mr. Mum just doesn’t talk about such things — triathlons and biathlons being, uh, ya know, like, sacred. Oh and Geoffrey is really a cyclist, not a runner although he has competed in all three events many, many times over his 46 years) is that the SCV Marathon is a fluffing big deal. How is that, you ask? Because it is the qualifying race for the Boston Marathon. What? Hel-lo. Crato North qualifies the — drum roll — Boston Marathon?
Yup! And not only that, it is run on the same exact day as the ever-lovin’ New York City marathon. YES! How’s that for irony.
Well, it is a good thing they are run on the same day and I will tell you why: if the NYC marathon was on a different fall Saturday, then the people who run in that one, would “train” by running in Santa Clarita and the people who win here, simply couldn’t compete. They probably couldn’t even register to enter.
Now, before I get too carried away with the revelations (maybe only to me — where have I been, did you all know this? Probably) dripping like honey from a big apple, one of the things I admire about this SCV marathon is the fact that there are many layers to it. There was a children’s run, a 13-mile half-marathon that anyone could run in. And of course there was the full 26 mile marathon that attracted serious men and women marathoners from all over the country, and even elsewhere in the world. The city of Santa Clarita ties the whole business to a Health and Fitness initiative that I have to admire for its intent. This place tries to do a lot right.
What a shock! There were medals for anyone who finished. But everyone knows that the red medal was for the half marathon and the purple was for the serious, full monty. You could tell who these people were by their purple-edge racing bib and their low number (below 1000). Number one above, the winning man with a time of just two hours and change for 26 miles, was barely breaking a sweat. True champ, I could see this guy in Boston, easily.
For the first two hours, we just wandered about people-peeping. It was a real circus. Then everyone was jockeying for a position in the front along the final few yards when the runners dash off Magic Mountain Parkway, onto Town Center Drive and pummel the final asphalt to the finish line to get their medal.
Some people walked the final part of the way. The number three guy — the serious marathoner who came in third, pictured among the people above, was limping afterward.
Geoffrey also told me, as we watched all the red-medal, half-marathoners huff and puff their way past us, that we would know when the first serious runners came in because they would be very skinny, probably tall, maybe half-naked, and running way faster than everyone else. And he was right.
Both male and female, it was obvious who the world-class runners were. Amazingly, some came in dripping in sweat and visibly tortured, others sailed in, cool as a Macoun [mack – cown, like cow] on a frosty autumn morning.
All ages, shapes and types were in that race, doing the half-marathon. I really had to hand it to them. It took not only fortitude, but bravery as the course wasn’t a cake-walk by any means and, they had to make that last gambit in front of a screaming crowd and snapping cameras.
Running can be an exhilarating or humiliating experience, but so many determined people did it.
And afterward, it was one big party.
If you are interested in who the winners were — and by the way — I have pictured the first three or four men here as well as the first three women, in the full, Boston-qualifying SCV 26 mile marathon — you can get the stats at this link.
By the way, if you enlarge the photos (click on them), I want you to notice that some of the runners literally had both feet off the ground at the same time. Professional marathoners run as if they have winged feet, like Mercury. They are light and quick. You will notice the media presence. This shot shows the winning woman’s full marathoner being interviewed. She looked so calm and fit, not a bit of sweat was evident and unlike some of the men, she didn’t look beat. On to Boston for her and numbers two and three.
All in all, I would say SCV gives NYC a run for the money.
Images: Beth Byrnes Archives, click to enlarge them. The rest of this set will be posted on my Flickr page.