This coming March will mark one decade since a running club had a not so crazy idea — at least not to them.
On March 31, 2019 the city of Modesto, along with ShadowChase Running Club, will celebrate the 10th Annual Modesto Marathon. An idea which was founded on a simple principle, creating a training group and a race for kids.
As odd as this notion might seem now for the avid runner, the inception of the race came by way of the club looking to model a program out of Los Angeles, known as Students Run LA. The 209 version founded by ShadowChase would be known as Teens Run Modesto (TRM). The program works with and trains area youth to run a marathon or half marathon.
“We had a meeting at Round Table Pizza and we wanted to create this teens running program,” Race Director Vickie Chu-Hermis stated, noting that at the time there wasn’t a local marathon (logistically speaking) to have the students train for.
“We didn’t have the funds of a marathon for these students to run,” she continued. “Once we really started talking about it we said, let’s just put on a marathon so the kids can run and then we’ll open it to the public.”
And so they did. All proceeds from the Modesto Marathon go toward sustaining the TRM program.
Now, in its 10th year, the Modesto Marathon has grown in popularity among the running world. Known for both its fast and flat course, as well as being a Boston Qualifier event, many travel to the 209 in early spring to try their luck on the Valley course.
According to Chu-Hermis, it also happens to be at the lower end of pricing in terms of registration fees and the cooperation of the City of Modesto, as well as the 800 volunteers, make it a race that many return for each year.
The race director also shared that while the event continues to grow, the popularity is at a sustainable rate which makes it still manageable. Close to 4,000 runners, walkers and run/walkers toed the line in 2018 for either the 5k, Half Marathon Relay, Half Marathon or Full Marathon.
As a former tri-athlete turned marathon runner, the volunteer shared being a mentor to the young runners is a true highlight of her overall experience. Acknowledging the commitment it takes to properly train, as well as the mental strength necessary to complete the 26.2-mile distance in less than seven hours.
“I think participating in it you have to dig deep,” she said of running the marathon. “It’s more mental than physical. You’ve done the training so you know your body can do it. I cry every year when I see the kids come in.”
During the course of the past 10 years Chu-Hermis said there has been little change in the course or event details. Even the time of year has remained the same; chosen mainly for the mild Valley weather in early spring.
“The biggest change has got to be the support we have received from the community and local businesses,” she stated. “In the beginning, no one knew what to think of our event that we were bringing to Modesto. As the years progressed and they see how much participation and excitement it brings, the more people are comfortable to stepping up and supporting our race.”
Most notably, the race director shared the support and understanding of residents in the Wood Colony, as well as the college area of Modesto has been tremendous and much appreciated.
“The people in those areas are so supportive. It’s really great to see,” she said.
Organizers also appreciate those who turn out to run each March.
“We have participants of all ages,” Chu-Hermis added. “Being at the start line you get to see all of the passion and emotions that have led up to being there and at the finish you get to witness and share in each one’s personal achievements.”
For additional information on participating in or volunteering for the Modesto Marathon visit www.modestomarathon.com.