The cheers were nonstop as clusters of runners, one after another, turned the final corner and came into the view of the crowd. The soft clanging of medals and robust applause added to the euphony of the second annual Bakersfield Marathon as the runners crossed beneath the red, white and blue inflatable arch that marked the finish line.

Each runner, in turn, received a fresh burst of cheers from the boisterous crowd.

And many runners said that was their experience throughout the entirety of the race. The sense of community was strong, almost palpable, at Sunday's Bakersfield Marathon.

The overall winners of the second Bakersfield Marathon were Angel Alcantar of Pacoima, who won the men's open division, and Ramona Sanchez of Sparks, Nevada, who won the women's open.

Other winners, by category, included: Angel Alcantar of Pacoima for the mens 20 to 29 division, Justin Patananan of Lancaster for the mens 30 to 39 division, Sergio Cruz of Culver City for the mens 40 to 49 division, Youngjin Kim of Bakersfield for the mens 50 to 59 division, Joe Ogata of Pacoima for the mens 60 to 69 division, Max Elbaum of Oakland for the mens over 70 division, Calin Hertzog of Bakersfield for the womens 19 and under division, Cici Pandol of New York, New York for the womens 20 to 29 division, Gisele Schaaf of Long Beach for the womens 30 to 39 division, Ramona Sanchez of Sparks, Nevada for the womens 40 to 49 division, Trisha Douda of Woodland Hills for the womens 50 to 59 division and Janet Lynch of Visalia for the womens 60 to 69 division.

But the competitive aspect of the race seemed entirely secondary to most people. That's what makes Bakersfield's newly minted running event special to many of the runners and walkers: the community.

"Everyone on the trail kept saying 'keep going, keep going'," Samantha Hill, a half-marathon runner, said. "You don't get that at other marathons."

Hill, a Bakersfield resident, participated in last year's Bakersfield Marathon as well; she said it is one of her favorite races.

"It's a local event, supporting the local economy," Hill said.

Hill competed with a group of friends and family members and their easy-going rivalry kept her motivated through to the end. Because the race was in Bakersfield, that friendly competition got a boost. "The Bakersfield community is so nice," Hill said. "People were out in their front yard cheering random people on."

That friendly rivalry was present in many running groups at the marathon. Father and son duo Fernando Garcia and Fernando Garcia Jr. they were glad they could compete at home against each other.

"For me, because I live here, it's one of the special ones," Garcia said of the Bakersfield Marathon.

Garcia started running with his son so that they could hold each other accountable and inspire each other.

"That pumps me up, running with him," Garcia said. "I'll always have those memories."

Garcia Jr. said that he doesn't see running with his father as a serious competition.

"We barely started; we just want to get better together," Garcia Jr. said. "We just push each other; it's more of a camaraderie."

The marathon wasn't just for runners. Many walked the entirety of their races, people like Kendra Kohfeld-Stout.

"Walking is better than therapy," Kohfeld-Stout said. "I don't feel bad about walking the whole thing because there are those who can't do that and I'm lucky."

Kohfeld-Stout, 61, said she has done about a dozen half-marathon walks. She said she hopes to do it for 20 more years, at least.

"It relieves stress and the medals are cool," Kohfeld-Stout said. "I have a whole collection hanging on the wall in my room."

She appreciates the logistics of having a marathon event in town. "It's nice to wake up in her own bed on race day and not have to worry about travel expenses or getting to the venue the day before," Kohfeld-Stout said.

But, like the Garcias, Kohfeld-Stout said that the Bakersfield Marathon is special because it's at home.

"You see lots of people you know here, where other races you're lucky to know anyone," Kohfeld-Stout said.

The event also had section of vendor booths, The Village, that had a variety of sellers and food for the runners.

(1) comment


Minor note: "Euphonium" is a brass musical instrument. I believe the word you were looking for in the first paragraph was probably "euphony", the state or quality of being pleasing to the ear.

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