by: Rey Andres

FIRST TIME MARATHONERS: Against all odds, first time marathoners Sherry Cunanan, Jesse Ignacio and Michelle Paysan-Modina of Southern California display their “hard-earned medals” at the conclusion of Long Beach Marathon last Oct. 7.

George Herbert Leigh Mallory was an English mountaineer who was part of the first three-member British expedition team to Mount Everest in the early 1920s and became famous for his quip on the reason why he took to climbing one of the world’s treacherous peaks was “because it is there”.

Whether Mallory was able to reach the summit with his climbing buddy Andrew Irvine was the subject of speculation and remained a mystery for 75 years until his body was discovered in 1999 when an expedition was sent out to search for the climbers’ remains.

A California marathon trio Sherry Cunanan, Michelle Paysan-Modina and Jesse Ignacio did not establish any extraordinary feat on Oct. 7 at the Long Beach City Bank Marathon except enjoying the personal satisfaction of conquering their fears and finishing the grueling 26.2- mile race through concrete pavement of the seaside city.

Sherry, an administrative assistant of a Cerritos-based real estate company, and Michelle, a nurse who juggles her time between running and caring for her four children in addition to pursuing a doctorate degree, had decided on the first anniversary of running half marathons (13.1 miles) to highlight their year-old running regimen by challenging themselves into completing a full marathon. Their male companion marathoner, Jesse, had reasons not to join the commemorative challenge because of health reasons as he was into a regimen of undergoing a three-times-a-week dialysis treatment and “was really weak to even engage in running”.

RUNNING FOR FUN: Sherry Cunanan’s did something she thought “she could not do” by finishing her first full marathon at the Long Beach Marathon that drew more than 25,000 who ran also for charity.

Sherry, Michelle and Jesse who belong to Signal Hill Hiking Club took the challenge in “taking the road less traveled” and conquered their fears by completing the Long Beach mega event in honorable fashion. Jesse’s triumph was a sheer gut example of the stubbornness of his spirit and steel perseverance to add to his personal victories that came in small increments.

Sherry, for her part, attributed her lung-busting triumph “from the love of God where she draws her strength”.

The Long Beach International City Bank Marathon was launched 30 years ago and has attracted world class runners to compete in the punishing event. The 2012 race featured over 25,000 runners and cyclists and close to 50,000 spectators and participants to the two-day Health and Fitness Exposition that accompanied the annual spectacle. Proceeds of this annual event had been earmarked for  many charitable organizations which since 2005 had raised more than $4 million for its various projects.

The giant weekend fun event also had 2,000 children taking part in The Aquarium of the Pacific Kids One-Mile Fun Run the day before the big race that marked its 28th year.

Notable running personalities compete in this annual event which included a field of legacy runners “who had competed in every single Long Beach Marathon since 1982”. The race route traversed scenic routes that included iconic landmarks like  the Queensway Bridge, Queen Mary, Lighthouse, Rainbow Harbor along with residential neighborhoods and popular locations like Belmont Shore, Marine Stadium and Colorado Lagoon.

The Long Beach race recognized as Southern California’s Fall marathon event has earned accolades from the racing circles. It was the “most fun race” she has participated in according to Yolanda Holder who earned the distinction as the runner who broke the Guinness Book of World Records by running in 106 marathon in one year.