Clovis News: Sports

Marathon runners carry stories to finish

It's been 10 years. Farshad Oreizi looks at the photo sometimes and can't believe it's been that long.

It is a snapshot of Oreizi and his middle son, Darya, crossing the finish line together at the San Diego Marathon.

At the time, Farshad Oreizi had been through agony. For 5 hours and 17 minutes, it seemed he'd plodded down every street and highway in the city.

At the time, Darya Oreizi had been through much worse. They call it acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and they discovered the cancer known as ALL when he was four and got really sick at Disneyland, the worst news at the happiest place on earth.

As Farshad Oreizi finally got to the finish in San Diego, Darya Oreizi squeezed through the crowd and ran out to his dad. They crossed the line together. Some pictures are worth a lot more than 1,000 words.

It was Farshad Oreizi's first marathon and his slowest.

"That's all I could do," he says. "That's all I had. I'm really proud of that marathon."

There will be a few thousand stories running around the north side of Fresno on Sunday. The full marathon runners will head to Old Town Clovis. The half marathoners will run toward Friant. It is the third-annual Eye-Q Two Cities Marathon.

Some stories are joyous. Darya Oreizi's leukemia went into remission two weeks after that marathon finish and hasn't come back. He is a senior at Buchanan High now. He wants to study architecture and is trying to decide between five colleges.

Some stories are painful. CeCe Cross is a nurse in Bakersfield and she will be running her first half marathon Sunday. Her son Bobby Garcia also was diagnosed with ALL. It made his back ache. He got chills and fevers and vomited so much they thought that was what was causing the red spots on his face. He died three years ago this week.

Cross thinks about him when she runs. She's lost toenails training for Sunday's race and hurt her knee. Her feet swell up and she's twisted both ankles.

"This is nothing," she says to herself, and gets up early the next morning.

Some people are frustrated by what marathons have become. They are popular and expensive and crowded. A good percentage of the field is not necessarily racing. They are supporting causes, or friends, or their own health.

Cross trained this fall with Bakersfield's chapter of Team in Training, which raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She will have a photo of Garcia pinned to her shirt.

Farshad Oreizi is a coach for Fresno's Team in Training chapter, which will have 30 runners in Sunday's two races. He will probably run 30 miles checking on all of them. It's easy to understand how cancer changes the patient's life, but you forget about the collateral effects.

"It really changed all our lives," Oreizi says.

He wasn't a runner, he was just an overweight dad and a supervisor for the Fresno County Department of Agriculture. Darya Oreizi was an honoree for Fresno's 1998 Team in Training season and then Farshad Oreizi ran two years later while his family raised $10,000 with bake sales and carwashes.

Since, he has finished 24 marathons, a few triathlons and this year an Ironman. A race that once took him more than 5 hours, he eventually slashed through in a personal best of 3:03. Inspired by his dad, youngest son Tieve has become a ranked junior triathlete. Wife Donna quit her job to care for Darya and is now a medical social worker.

It is life. It drags by sometimes. Other times it happens so fast you can't keep up. One day it's tragedy and the next it's Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet.

The marathon is a lot of that, all smashed into a few hours. Some appear to be floating, others crumbling. It's what the race has become, something different and massive and gritty and beautiful.

Most days you have to go looking for a good story, at the movies or the bookstore. On Sunday, thousands will run right by.