fitnessIssue 3

Run for your Life


Change Your Life and Start the Hobby of Health with the Modesto Marathon

Whether you’re a dedicated racer or the kind of person who thinks a 10k is a type of gold, chances are running a marathon has at least made an appearance on your bucket list.

Marathons are running’s most famous contest, a 26.2 mile race that dates back to antiquity and which—over the many eras of its existence—has drawn millions of runners of all ages, nationalities and fitness levels to strap on shoes and get moving.

Modesto joined the ranks of metropolises including Boston and New York City as cities that are homes to certified annual marathons when the starting gun sounded at the first Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon in 2010. On Sunday, March 24, this local race event will kick off its fourth year of promoting good health and a love of exercise in the Central Valley.

This year’s Modesto Marathon is expected to have around 700 runners facing off in the full marathon race, which begins at 7 a.m. The half marathon starts twenty minutes later and has its registration capped at 1,500 this year. In addition to the main events, race day will also feature a 5k open to an unlimited number of participants, including children and people who are interested in walking the course.

The marathon is organized by Heidi Ryan and Karen Lozano, who founded the annual event and now serve as Race Directors. The two are long-time runners who have each competed in everything from 5k races to ultra-marthons (races which can cover anything from around 30 miles up to 1,000 miles or more. Yes, really.) and are active members of the local Shadowchase Running Club.

Doctors Tammy Wu and Calvin Lee from Surgical Artistry in Modesto have been the marathon’s main sponsors since its foundation in 2010. According to Dr. Lee, the marathon gets at the core of what he and his wife Dr. Wu want for Modesto. “Our goal is always to promote new things that Modesto has never had. We’re both runners and I’d competed in marathons in the past, so starting a marathon here just seemed so perfect to us.”

Teens Run Modesto
Most of the profit that the marathon brings in goes to Teens Run Modesto, a graduated training program for area youth that goes hand in hand with the annual race. Each year, the Teens Run Modesto program, which kicks off 26 weeks before the marathon, takes groups of teens through a workout program that starts with 30 minute run/walks on week one and progressively builds to a final long run of 22 miles in time for the marathon. The program started with just a few teens and in the last four years has expanded to include hundreds of teens from high schools and middle schools throughout Stanislaus County.

The program is operated by a group of dedicated volunteers who are committed to the program’s mission statement: “to challenge valley students to experience the benefits of goal setting, character development, adult mentoring and improved physical health through a structured training program culminating in the running and completion of the Modesto Marathon.”

While the program was envisioned as a way to help at-risk students, Dr. Lee added that it is open to and encourages youth of any ethnicity or socio-economic status to participate. “It doesn’t matter if they’re at risk kids or any kids, it gives them a sense of accomplishment and confidence. Interacting with people who encourage them to achieve their goals does them good. Being able to set and pursue goals is one of the key ingredients to success in life.”

“A lot of the criticisms I heard about Modesto when I came here 10 years ago were that there isn’t much for our kids to do, and that they get pulled into drugs and gangs because of it,” said Dr. Lee. “After the students’ experience with the program we’ve seen that many of them start to become real consumers of health who spend their time, money and energy pursuing fitness. It’s the start of a lifelong love of running.”

According to Dr. Lee, the Modesto Marathon and Teens Run Modesto are both part of his goal of improving the health of the Stanislaus County area. “I ultimately hope to impart the hobby of health on the future of Modesto… and maybe even the world!”

The Modesto Marathon starts at 7 a.m. at M Street between 10th and 11th Streets in Modesto. Race day registration for the event starts at 6 a.m. The course is open for 7 hours.

For more information about the Modesto Marathon, visit For information about Teens Run Modesto, visit

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