NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- The OC Marathon is on track for a record 20,000 entrants on Sunday, May 5, 2013, up from 17,000 last year. One of the premier destination races in Southern California, OC Marathon entries are up an average of 15 percent across its four divisions: marathon, half marathon, OC Wahoo's 5K and Kids Run the OC (KROC). Among the reasons for the growth spurt are the enthusiastic charitable supporters and the ongoing popularity of the "Beach Cities Challenge" and "Kids Run the OC."
The OC Marathon is considered as one of the best full and half marathon courses in the state due to its diverse terrain, changing vistas and majestic ocean views. It traverses Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Irvine and Santa Ana and boasts a blend of chic coastal scenery, tranquil nature and sophisticated arts and shopping. Detailed information is available at www.ocmarathon.com.
Helping fuel the surge in entries is the high interest among runners embracing the 18 official Charity Partners, the newest of which is the Jesse Rees Foundation, a pediatric cancer foundation inspired by 12 year old Jessie Rees. Jessie was a beautiful, athletic, smart and compassionate girl who fought two brain tumors for ten months and two days. Jessie created "Joy Jars" to spread hope, joy and love to children fighting life altering medical illnesses.
According to race director, Gary Kutscher, "Each Charity Partner is carefully screened and is active in recruiting volunteers and participants to support our event. In the last eight years, the OC Marathon events collectively have helped generate more than $3 million for Orange County charities." Kutscher added, "We are proud of our association with these organizations and look forward to continuing partnerships that benefit the citizens of the OC."
Also continuing its impressive growth is the OC Marathon's "Kids Run the OC," which will host a record number of 70 schools and 4500 kids on Saturday, May 4. The program is designed to help pre-adolescent kids become more physically fit, promote an active and healthy lifestyle and combat the onset of childhood obesity. Additionally, the California Beach Cities Challenge, an alliance of the Surf City USA Marathon, Long Beach International City Bank Marathon and OC Marathons, is fueling entries. Since the series was launched in 2011, more than 7000 people have completed the challenge by running the three events consecutively.
The OC Marathon, like its "Challenge" counterparts, features myriad heart-warming human interest stories including hundreds of runners who have fought and conquered disease, obesity and personal loss to those who participate on behalf of several notable non-profits and causes including autism, cystic fibrosis, cancer and many more. A partial sample includes:
Thomas Frost (Rancho Santa Margarita, age 60): Thomas is a 28 year Long Beach Marathon Legacy Runner that will participate in the OC Marathon. Thomas started running in the late 70's when Alberto Salazar and Bill Rogers were his role models, but his daughter Lisa Anne motivates him to during every run and race now. Lisa was a passenger on United Airlines Flight 175 on Sept. 11, 2001. Thomas carries her memorial pin and her spirit with me. "Lisa always gets me to the finish line if I'm having a bad day or a good one."
Robert Kollar (Aliso Viejo, age 41): Robert is part of a team that is raising funds for a young boy, Talon, who was diagnosed with a severe case of type 1 diabetes. His goal is to purchase a service dog (the dog can detect decline blood sugar levels and are trained to retrieve insulin shots or call 911 on a special phone). Since these dogs are expensive, Robert and his organization know they can help this little boy and his family.
Misty and Grace Cross (Huntington Beach, age 32 and 7): Misty has been coaching for KROC for the last four years at Hope View Elementary School. She stopped half way through the season last year when her daughter Grace, born 3.5 months premature and diagnosed with cerebral palsy, was having surgery on both of her legs. Grace is now in second grade and determined to walk like everyone else. She started walking on the treadmill and it took her approximately 10-12 minutes to walk 1/4 mile. Today she is able to complete it in 5.5 minutes and walks the mile at school.
Jessica Buffington (Signal Hill, age 31): Jessica will run the OC half marathon while seven months pregnant. She ran the OC marathon in 2011 when she was three months pregnant and this past February, Jessica ran the Surf City half marathon when she was 17 weeks pregnant.
"It's very exciting to see the OC Marathon continue to grow and evolve," said Gary Kutscher, event director. "The community participation for our charities is truly amazing while the myriad human interest stories are humbling and heart-warming."
The Ninth Annual OC Marathon is held on Sunday, May 5, 2013. More than 20,000 runners will participate in the marathon, half marathon, OC Wahoo's 5K and Kids Run the OC. Additionally, thousands of spectators line the course and the start line in front of the Newport Beach Marriott and finish line at OC Fair and Event Center, while an additional 30,000 attend the two-day Allergan Health & Fitness Expo which showcases national brands and state of the art footwear and training technology. More information is available at OCMarathon.com.