There might not have been a happier, more jovial finisher than Tony Nguyen of San Francisco after Sunday's Eye-Q Two Cities Marathon & Half.
Upon receiving his bronze medallion, Nguyen exclaimed: "Look at this. Oh my God! I get a medal? It's gorgeous!"
Nguyen had reason to be happy: His time of 2:09 was a personal best.
"I was the fat kid who always got lapped in P.E., and I just finished a half marathon," he said proudly.
Twins Steven and Stephanie Kaufmann, 14-year-old Clovis High freshmen, were at their station at Pollasky Avenue and Fifth Street in Clovis early Sunday morning.
Their volunteer job was to make sure runners stayed on the course. They also helped pack the goody bags competitors received before the race.
"We know teachers who are running," Stephanie said, "and we needed volunteer hours for school."
Spectator to runner
Last year, Alain Patton stood and watched as the race went right by his house. This year, the Fresno man was running the half marathon.
Judging by the way Patton limped around the finisher's area, 13.1 miles were plenty. His calves, legs and thighs were cramping.
"It hurts everywhere. And I'm vertically challenged to begin with," the stocky 44-year-old joked. "I've never gone farther than 7 miles. Sitting in my pool ... is a good idea."
Walking for first time
Jayne McClurg is usually recognized as the sister of Pete Verhoeven, the former Fresno State and pro basketball star. But Sunday was her day to shine in the first half marathon she ever walked.
"You train by yourself to walk with 5,000 other people," she said with a laugh. "This was on my bucket list and an amazing experience. Especially watching marathoners pass me and hit the wall, then all the people encouraging them."
Count Fresno Pacific track and cross country coach Eric Schwab among those who have noticed the race's impact on the local running scene.
"I personally know people who have never been exercisers that are walking or running this half marathon," Schwab said. "This might be the one event they do all year, but they weren't doing any before this."
Lost (and found?)
What happens to all the clothes and wrappings that get discarded at the starting line? Volunteers pack everything into cardboard boxes and take them to a collection area near the finish line.
Clothes that go unclaimed are donated to charity. The garbage bags and hospital gowns get thrown away.
Already planning 2010
No time is being wasted before getting started with plans for next year's big running event.
Co-race director Mike Herman: "We started working on 2010 a month ago. Next week we'll talk about improvements we can make."