Clovis News

Nearly 5,000 take part in Two Cities races

Jerry Commeret of Visalia captured the essence of the Eye-Q Two Cities Marathon & Half as he leaped in joy, kicking his heels together for the crowd lining the street close to the finish line.

"I clapped my feet for fun, to show people that doing a marathon isn't impossible and make them a part of the fun," the 34-year-old financial planner said after completing Sunday's race.

Close to 5,000 runners started and finished at Woodward Park on a crisp and sky-blue morning that appeared to go off with few hitches, a year after the first marathon to be added to the race drew complaints over closed roads and blocked access to neighborhoods.

Race organizers, working with police, simplified the traffic routes for motorists and made special effort to inform people of possible traffic delays.

"It seemed to go a whole lot smoother this year," said Sherrie Flynn, the marathon's course and traffic director. "I think we resolved most of the traffic issues."

Flynn said one runner was taken to a hospital for observation of possible dehydration and one homeowner had trouble trying to get back into her driveway.

Fresno State senior Jesus Campos won the men's marathon in 2 hours, 28 minutes, 53 seconds on a relatively flat 26.2-mile course through north Fresno and Clovis.

Lori Buratto, a biology teacher from Lake Spokane, Wash., captured the women's marathon in 3:05.13.

Each was awarded $1,500.

The economic impact of the race was estimated at $700,000 to $900,00, said William Broomfield, Fresno city events manager.

Participation for this year's marathon and half marathon grew about 60% and race directors have bigger plans -- reaching a goal of 10,000 runners by 2012.

"We eventually want to bring more technology to the race," Broomfield said, "and get it televised regionally to attract international runners."

That sounds good to Scott Nelson, a Mount Whitney High teacher who ran the half marathon.

Nelson, who said he has run several half marathons around California, was impressed by the course and all the swag, or freebies, given to the runners for their $50 or $70 entry fees.

Each received a goody bag before the race filled with an energy drink, granola bar, olive oil and vinegar, chips, a course map and flier of other marathons.

After finishing, runners got caps, zippered-and-hooded sweatshirts, a medal for finishing and a breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, fried potatoes, fruit cups, water and sundaes.

Massage tables and a beer garden were nearby.

"This is my favorite race for the price," Nelson said.

On hand at the finish line was Fresnan Arlene Stine, a guest of race organizers and the first woman to officially run a marathon in the United States.

The 1959 Pikes Peak Marathon in Colorado was her first and last, but she offered insight on the revolution of the sport over the past 50 years.

"Marathoning has grown dramatically," she said. "There were only 21 people in my race. I wore flimsy tennis shoes and there were no water or first-aid stations. We had to drink out of streams. What I've seen in Fresno, they really care about the runners."