There’s an old motivational saying that goes: It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. When you run the LA Marathon in record heat, the question quickly becomes – if you finish.
According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 22,000 people raced the 26.2 mile course from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica last Sunday – the third day of a record-breaking heat wave with temperatures 20 degrees higher than average across the region.
And among that massive throng of joggers were several CMC students and alumni, parents and President Hiram E. Chodosh.
In addition to personal goals – for some, running under four hours; for others just finishing the course – the race entrants from CMC led by seniors Ben Tillotson ‘15 and Rita Gilles ‘15, ran to benefit a bigger cause. They ran to raise money for financial aid and scholarships as a part of The Student Imperative, an initiative that aims to add $100 million to the college's endowment so it can meet 100 percent of each student's needs once admitted.
Currently, more than $75,000 has been pledged to the Initiative with additional monies expected to enlarge the total to $100,000 in a few weeks.
“Running to raise money for The Student Imperative will help make sure that anyone who is qualified to attend CMC can do so regardless of socio-economic background,” Tillotson said.
“I’m running because I care so much about financial aid and scholarships at CMC,” Gilles added. “I think most students do and we saw this as a way to fight for what we believe in and try and make CMC more accessible to other students.”
In addition to runners from the college, CMC was out in force with tents and a cheering section strategically placed around mile 22.
“That was my most favorite part of the marathon,” Gilles said, “running past the CMC tents and seeing all of my friends there cheering and high-fiving and dumping water on me. It was just amazing. My least favorite part was the beginning of the race being stuck in a huge crowd.”
President Chodosh, a 1991 veteran of the New York City Marathon, also appreciated that late-race boost from CMCers. “The CMCer’s looked fantastic,” he said. “I saw them out there. We ran into each other quite frequently and there was a big group assembled just after mile 22 which was exciting. And my family was just about a half-mile before the finish line.”
The highpoint for President Chodosh was coming up on Santa Monica near the end of the race and seeing the gleaming Pacific.
“I was thinking about focusing on the race one step at a time, saving energy to finish the race and to just enjoy the day,” he said. President Chodosh finished the marathon in less than five hours which was his goal.
“It was an accomplishment for me, especially given the little amount of time I had to train,” he said.
Another personal goal was reached by first-time marathoner Tillotson who, with a time of 3:1:16, qualified to run in the Boston Marathon. “I’m from Boston and to be eligible to run in my age group, I had to run under 3:3:30.”
Other runners included Mark Segal ’86 who ran with his daughter Talia ’15 who, in turn, ran because "my experience at CMC is one of the best things I could ever have asked for,” she said. “I feel every student deserves a chance to go here.”
For Jessie Capper ’17, the most challenging aspect of the race was keeping a consistent pace throughout and staying motivated.
“I’ve done half-marathons in the past and doing a full marathon was something I wanted to cross off the bucket list,” Capper said. “And this seemed like the perfect opportunity, especially after what CMC has given me. My goal was to finish and I did in a lot better time than I was expecting to.”
Just before the race began in the pre-dawn half-light, Josh Walter ’01, Director of Leadership Giving at Claremont McKenna, admitted to some jitters. “What’s going on in my mind is massive confusion and wondering exactly how I got myself here right now!”
Walter predicted that his biggest problem would occur around mile 17, “where you’re far into it but you still have 10-ish to go! But we’ll make it, we’ll push through.”
And being CMCer’s, they all did!