Running Season: Modesto Hits the Ground Running
By Noel Daniel
The Leave Flutter down on a familiar Modesto street, the sharp smell of Spring is heavy in the air. Hundreds of thousands of Modesto citizens are running – and it’s for the beast reason.
The Modesto Marathon started as a way to serve the local community by hosting top-of-the-line Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5K running events. These events, which have since come to be Boston Marathon qualifiers, promote physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle. The challenge begins Mar. 20 of this year and already has a considerable head start in signups.
“We have over 600 registered participants so far,” said Vickie Chu-Hermis, Director of the Modesto Marathon. “We’re looking at growing at a substantial rate. WE should have around 3,500 total participants in all distances.”
This growth ensures that the race expands more and more every year, adding new and interesting surprises and activities to the event.
But the Modesto Marathon isn’t just good, healthy fun. It’s important, too. Proceeds from the run benefit the Teens Run Modesto program — which teaches local youth to understand the benefits of goal-setting, character development, adult mentoring and improved physical fitness. The program focuses on at-risk teens and trains them for the Modesto Marathon.
The running goals increase in difficulty and are meant to encourage a strong and positive work ethic that the teens can integrate into other aspects of their lives. Although the program does target at-risk students, they encourage all students regardless of demographic to come and experience the satisfaction of seeing the challenge to the end. Best of all, the program is offered at no cost to the students.
“I am most excited to see all of our Teens Run Modesto students as well as all of our Shadow Chase training group members cross the finish line,” said Chu-Hermis. “Most of them will have trained for six months in the cold and rain of the winter months to get to that finish line!”
The run’s for more than just the teens and the Shadow Chase runners. There’s fun for the whole family lined up, including vendors with running apparel, a Kid Zone, entertainment on the main stage, free race photos, and a medal engraving with your personal race time.
“We will have a lot of fun goodies for spectators along the finish line as they wait for their loved ones to finish their race,” said Chu-Hermis. “We will also be expanding our Finish Line Festival which currently has the Massage Envy Spa Massage Lounge, the Cross Point Kids Zone, the Michelob Ultra Beer & Barefoot Wine Garden and a Food Truck Alley.”
The Marathon course starts at 7 a.m. on M Street and parades runners through the tree-lined college neighborhoods. It’s 26.2 miles long and will be open for seven hours. The Half Marathon course, 13.1 miles, is also projected to be open for seven hours. This one’s recommended for walkers and first-time runners. There’s also the 5K, a 3.1 mile loop, and the Half Marathon Relay at 7 and 6.1 miles for the first and second legs, respectively.
But the best part for Vickie Chu-Hermis? It’s what the race does for Modesto that wins out over the bells and whistles.
“My favorite part is that it highlights Modesto in a positive way,” said Chu-Hermis. “We have an ideal Boston Qualifying course that is flat and fast and promotes community pride through giving a tour of where our food comes from. Our course goes past produce and dairy farms as well as walnut and almond orchards.”
The race ultimately touches the lives of all locals — from at-risk teens to runners seeking community to a community looking for pride. It’s a shining reminder of one of the many things that makes Modesto great. And Chu-Hermis agrees.
“It’s awesome to see all of our Modesto neighbors through the whole course come out to encourage and cheer on the runners.”