The Great Catalina Marathon Adventure

Months before the Catalina Marathon, my marathoning husband, Ken challenged Jake to complete the 26.2 mile event with him. Jake at 14 had never considered such an arduous activity and had his reservations, but with both uncles competing and his grandpa, he was persuaded to sign up. When the big day approached, Ken and both uncles, Rick and Dan, enthusiastically advised him on all aspects marathon. Jake must have felt a bit like a deer in the headlights with so many big men energetically initiating him into their passion for running.


The big day arrived, under cover of early morning darkness, the Avalon boat took the racers down the twenty some miles to the Isthmus to the race start. Ken advised Jake to stay by his side so that Ken could pace him and mentor him. The gun went off! The race began! Jake took off and after an uphill ascent looked around for his grandfather. As his grandfather was nowhere to be seen, Jake ran back through the crowd of runners to find his grandfather. After about two miles of Jake walking as he slowed for his grandfather, Ken, finally realizing that Jake was light years faster, said, “Jake go ahead, you know what to do. Just ask for help if you get in trouble.”


Many hours passed and those of us at the finish line knew that Rick and Dan would be finishing soon. Jake’s sister, Jaycelin, and I set up our spot to cheer in our four competitors. As expected, Rick and Dan charged across the line in about 5 hours. They felt strong and had a good race, but they had not seen Jake nor their dad since the race began. They invited us back to the hotel while they changed and had a snack, as they were certain Jake was at least an hour or two behind them. After all, it was his first marathon and it is a difficult one.


Jaycelin and I looked at each other. “No. We are staying here. What if they come in and we miss them? This is Jake’s first race and he would be disappointed if no one were here to cheer him in.” My sons insisted that it was not possible that either Jake or their dad would be along very soon. It is a hard up and down hill race with several thousand feet of elevation. Jaycelin and I would not budge. We were staying.


Holding vigil along the finish of the course, we eyed the racers as they came in. Ten minutes passed. We continued to keep a watchful eye to the finishers. More minutes passed, when suddenly, Jaycelin yelled, “Mimi that’s him!! There’s Jake!”


We were so excited that we could hardly contain ourselves. We were jumping and yelling as Jake, hardly even sweating, keeping a nice steady pace, waved to us as he ran by.


At the finish line, other participants were coming up to Jake and giving him “high fives” and calling out “You’re a Rock Star!!” “We can’t believe you!” Jake mostly smiled. He was not particularly out of breath nor flushed and he had just run a huge distance!


That level of congratulation kept up the entire time Jake was cooling down and we were waiting for Ken. More back slaps. “You are a star!” “You are amazing!” On and on it went as celebrants reeled Jake into their culture. I, as the proud grandmother, basked in the reflected glow from Jake. The other racers could not get enough of him. It was incredible. One older man who had taken Jake under his wing along the course went over to the stats sheets and came back with the news that Jake had won first place in his age category and that he was the youngest racer in the event!


Jake just smiled and “high fived” them back, and nodded his head, but I could see what Jake was thinking. He could not imagine what the big deal was all about. There were 26.2 miles up and down hills and he just put his mind to the task and completed it. Not a big deal.”


Another hour or so passed and Ken came in and was a bit concerned about where Jake was and was he okay? Ken could not believe it when he heard the news that Jake won his age classification and was over- all the youngest racer. Ken just smiled as he caught his breath.


To date, Jake has not yet run another marathon, having gone to a high school life filled with academics and school athletics, but he still talks about that race and his realization that his mind can carry his body to unexpected success. It is often well said that life is a marathon and not a sprint. We have to believe in ourselves and commit to the time and energy it takes to make a winning life.


"People see the world not as it is, but as they are."~ Al Lee