Fruit, hot chocolate, bagels, pastries, juice, and so much more was spread out as an enticing celebratory breakfast on the morning of May 3rd for the 32 youth at Nova Academy. A little social time, then carpools left and headed to the Orange County Fairgrounds for race packet pick up at the OC Marathon Expo. After picking up race bibs, the group meandered through the booths, tasting samples of all kinds of running concoctions, looking at gear and clothing, and taking photos. Who knew you could win stuff including running cell phone cases and sunglasses for free?
Later on that evening, the Village of Hope runners from the Orange County Rescue Mission and the Nova academy assembled at EV Free Church of Fullerton for a Carbo Load banquet. Families and friends came to celebrate the achievement of this group through the 14 weeks of training. After stuffing full of pasta, salad, garlic bread and desserts, the 180 or so assembled listened to a pastor talk about how running impacted different areas of his life and our need for a Savior. Once awards were given out and race day Up and Running Again shirts, the evening was capped off with photos and last minute race day instructions.
And then the alarm at 3 am. Can you believe we got all 50 plus people assembled at 4:30 am at the Orange County Fairgrounds for the start of the race on Sunday? You could feel the energy. Several from the OC Rescue Mission looked like teenagers pulling an all nighter at a party. They were dancing and grinning and jumping about…pretty much ’til the start of the race! After Pete Marshall, our single full marathon runner left at 5:30 am on his way, the rest of the group made their way into the starting corrals. At 6:15 am, this joyful group started their journey. Our first runner, Daniel Mora, came through the finish line in 1 hr 53 minutes. Our last runner at over 4 hours. However, as John Bingham says, “”If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.”