As he crossed the finish line, Conor Belfield ’14 raised his arms triumphantly, bathing in the glory. His running partner, James Edwards ’14, rested his arms on his hips in relief.
Belfield and Edwards had just finished the 26.2 mile Los Angeles Marathon that winds through Los Angeles on March 12, originating from Dodger Stadium and ending at Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica.
Rachel Burdorf ’14, Daphna Fischel ’15 and Miles McQueen ’16 also finished this year’s marathon.
Edwards first had the idea to run after he got injured during the soccer season and found himself with extra time on his hands and a desire to stay in shape.
“Conor is the only one of my friends who would want to [run in the Marathon],” Edwards said. “Everyone else was saying ‘Are you kidding me, why would I want to do that?’”
The two seniors had never run a marathon before this and did not quite know how to prepare for one. They loosely followed an online training guide that consisted of multiple runs, increasing in distance overtime.
When the time came to run the actual marathon, they ran without walking through mile 11, farther than they had ever been able to run continuously in the past. By mile 14, Edwards and Belfield were cramping, so they would stop for each other when one of them needed it.
“The actual race day was much hotter than pretty much any of my training, and I think that made it quite a bit harder,” Edwards said.
During the marathon itself, Edwards and Belfield did little talking, aside from the occasional motivation to one another.
“Your mind goes blank when running for that duration and you fall into a rhythm,” Belfield said.
“When you are in the heat of the marathon and everyone else is running, you don’t want to be the guy walking…. [You really] get absorbed by all the people yelling at you and the music playing on the loud speaker and it’s kind of motivating,” Belfield said.
Both Belfield and Edwards plan on running marathons in the future.
Belfield wants to try to run in the USC Marathon while Edwards want to take a break from marathon running for a while.
McQueen had always wanted to run in a marathon, but until starting cross-country this year, he did not have enough training or motivation to run in one.
“The race was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The finish line temperature was 88 degrees, which made it significantly harder as well,” McQueen said.
McQueen’s family joined him to provide support and take photos of him running.
“My family came to watch me run at the last stretch. It kind of sucked because [during] the last three miles both of my legs were cramping and it didn’t allow for me to run the majority of the last three miles,” he said. “They saw me walking and they were trying to take pictures which made it even more embarrassing.”
McQueen plans on running in marathons in the future and is even looking toward one in the upcoming month.
Fischel comes from a family of runners and has been running the marathon as a family tradition since 7th grade.
Her dad and brother began running in it 14 years ago. Each year since then, she and her family have gotten up early, stretched together, run 26.2 miles together, then gone home and swam and all taken naps.
“It’s not that I feel like I’m forced to partake in the tradition, but by now it’s just something that I want to do and I enjoy doing it with my family every year,” Fischel said.
The marathon doesn’t get easier each year, but Fischel finds that with each year she runs, she is more mentally prepared.
Fischel runs on both the track and cross-country teams, which prepared her for running in this year’s marathon.
Neither she nor any of her family members do any official training before the run, but they all play sports and exercise frequently year-round.
“Mentally you are just getting [into] the mindset that you know you’ll be able to finish because you’ve been able to do it before, so even when you get tired, you can still push yourself to keep on going,” Fischel said.
Fischel plans on continuing the tradition next year with her family and hopes that she can eventually run the whole thing without walking.
“It still feels amazing every time you finish because every time it’s still a challenge to push your body to do that much and exercise all at one point, so every year you feel huge relief and accomplishment when you’re done,” Fischel said.
Burdorf has run in the LA Marathon three times. She has also run in the San Francisco Marathon with her dad. This year she ran with her dad and brother, Mitchell Burdorf ’17.
“The experience was good,” Burdorf said. “It hurt, but I’m glad I did it, and it was actually fun. The trick is the company. Doing it alone would have been much worse.”
Burdorf also ran cross-country this year and had been running all year. She would like to run in the LA Marathon in the coming years.
“The hardest part of the marathon, for me, is the mental aspect rather than the physical,” Burdorf said. “All anyone has to do to finish is to just keep moving forward, one step at a time. That’s exactly where the mental part comes in, though taking each step.”