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L.A. Marathon: It's more than just a race for some

Breast CancerDodger Stadium

There’s often more meaning to a marathon than the self-revelatory affirmation that comes from finishing a long, difficult journey. Sometimes there’s much more.

Consider Mayra Molina, 37, as she waited eagerly Sunday morning under an orange banner in Hollywood marking mile 10 of the Los Angeles Marathon.

She and eight of her friends were each completing several miles of the marathon in a relay meant to honor  Diane Barraza, a friend who in October died of breast cancer at age 50.

Molina, a fourth-grade teacher in Montebello, said Barraza, also a teacher, had run 10 marathons. The two had known each other for 15 years, she said.

She said that when the minister spoke at Barraza’s funeral about how hardworking and persevering she was, her friends were inspired to finish the L.A. Marathon in her honor.

Molina said she took the first leg, starting at Dodger Stadium, and couldn’t keep from crying as the race began. "It just comes back to you that I'm doing this because I lost a friend,” she said.

Walking the marathon as a relay team -- each of Barraza’s friends passing on the official racing bib to the next -- was well worth it, Molina said. "I think she's totally smiling down at us."

At the 10-mile mark, Molina helped transfer the bib to Daisy Chavez, who was about to go the next five miles. Molina said she thought about the end of the race.

"We're going to meet up and eat and celebrate Diane," she said, noting that the women plan to give the bib to Barraza's 8-year-old daughter, Aliyah.

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soumya.karlamanga@latimes.com

kurt.streeter@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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