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Modesto Marathon
Keeping 'Graffiti' theme


It’s never too late to try something new. Whether a veteran or a novice, the Modesto Marathon has a little something for everyone, including children and teens.

Presented each year in the heart of Downtown Modesto, the annual event draws over 2,000 participants to the 209 each year. This year’s event will be hosted March 24 with packet pick up March 23 at the Modesto Classic Car Museum.

“We’re keeping it kind of the graffiti, Modesto theme,” second year race director Bree Fitzpatrick said. “Last year was the first year we used the ‘Graffiti’ theme.”

While the name of the event may put some off, Fitzpatrick recently shared the marathon is not the only event for those looking to trying something new, take on a challenge or simply lace up their sneakers for an event close to home.

Each year the Modesto Marathon hosts a 5k (3.1 miles), 10k (6.2 miles), half marathon (13.1 miles) and full marathon (26.2 miles).

Illustrating the ‘something for everyone’ point, Fitzpatrick shared that in 2023, out of the 2,100 participants, 306 were full marathoners.

“Anybody can walk three miles,” Fitzpatrick shared, noting there is still time to prepare for the 5k or 10k distances. “I would challenge people to do the 10k, because anybody can do the 5k.”

“So, challenge your buddy to do the 10k and if you walk the whole thing, you walk the whole thing, but you did it,” she continued.

Joining the event herself as a half marathon participant in 2013, Fitzpatrick said it was her daughter who first got her involved with the Teens Run Modesto program, a running program targeted at helping teens achieve goals and a healthy lifestyle.

According to Fitzpatrick, Teens Run Modesto (TRM) was started by Shadow Chase Running Club members, husband and wife, Mike and Heidi Ryan. Sharing a passion for running and movement, the couple began working with high school students from throughout the 209 training them to complete a goal.

“Teens Run Modesto is the whole reason the Modesto Marathon got started,” Fitzpatrick stated, adding that prior to the formation of the local event, the couple would take the teens to the Bay Area for the San Francisco Half Marathon.

As a result, the couple along with the Shadow Chase Running Club, made the decision to offer a local race so the teens could race close to home.

“All of our profit goes back to the Teens Run Modesto Program,” she shared.

While a field of over 2000 is a respectable number for a race event in the 209, Fitzpatrick said they do get a large number of recreational and first-time runners, but also have elite runners travel to participate in the event as well.

“The Modesto Marathon, everybody tells us that it’s a fast, flat course,” she said of the top 10 rated fast/flat courses for the entire state. “It’s a Boston Qualifier, as well as a New York Qualifier, a lot of people don’t know that we can qualify for New York as well.”

And as some might imagine the TRM Program also draws a lot of people.

“The other thing I think brings a lot of people to the area is the camaraderie of the Teens Run Modesto Program,” she continued. “We promote the Teens Run Modesto Program through the Modesto Marathon.”

To prepare for a fun weekend for visitors as well as locals, the Modesto Marathon team works hard at putting together hotel and restaurant packages to help participants navigate the 209.

“So, we’re making it a whole community event versus just a downtown race for runners and trying to pull in local vendors as well,” Fitzpatrick explained.

As they work at getting that dialed in for the 2024 race, Fitzpatrick has set a goal to use all local sources for all aspects of the event including shirts, medals and everything related to the Modesto Marathon.

As a participant turned Shadow Chase Board Member and now Race Director, Fitzpatrick “gets” the commitment. Sharing that running her first Marathon in 2014 she hit “the wall” struggling from mile 16 to the finish line. Ending her race after the cut off time of seven hours, Fitzpatrick works with her team and volunteers to make the event positive for all, regardless of level.

“So that’s why I want to make the festivities last until the last person comes in. I want them to feel just as good as the first person,” she said. “We have been there eight hours; we stay until the last person is done.”

A supportive mom turned lover of not just running but the community, Fitzpatrick was clear the sport as well as the race is designed for all levels, from runner to “ralker” (run/walker) to walker as well as wheelchair participants, there’s room for all on the Modesto Marathon course.

“When I got involved in the running community, it’s just a different mindset,” she stated. “Everybody wants to help everybody. You don’t ever hear, I want someone to fail. You always hear, come on you can do it, just a couple more steps.”

That’s the positive message she wants to see continue.

“For me, I just couldn’t see it going away and I want to see it grow bigger and better,” she said of committing to becoming Race Director two years ago.

Now looking down the line at the 2024 event, Fitzpatrick is already talking plans for 2025.

“It’s hard to put into words,” she shared of what makes the event special. “It’s not like any other sport. Everybody is on their own, but everybody is there together. It makes running more fun, when you have somebody there to do it with you.”

For more information on the Modesto Marathon or to register for the upcoming event, visit