For three years there was talk surrounding an Orange County marathon.
But for three years, all there was, was talk.
Today, the talk becomes action as the OC Marathon becomes a
The expectations for the event were high.
"We needed 5,500 runners to be able to have the type of event we
wanted," co-chairman Scott Baugh said.
According to race director Bill Sumner, who is also a Corona del
Mar High cross-country and track-and-field coach, that number would
be equitable with other California marathons that have been in
existence for a number of years.
The California invitational in Sacramento is in its 22nd year and
gets about 6,000 runners.
But the OC Marathon did not get 5,500 runners. It will have close
"I am thrilled, excited and impressed with how this thing has come
together," Baugh said. "We went in blind and saw the marathon as a
great idea. It took a lot of hard work, but it will happen Sunday."
The biggest dilemma in turning the concept into an concreteness
was getting money.
"We couldn't hire anybody to work full-time on the marathon until
we secured a major sponsor," Baugh said.
The Board of Directors approached PacifiCare of California in
December 2003 with a presenting sponsorship proposal. The health care
company agreed to donate $250,000. There were many reasons why
PacifiCare joined the marathon team.
"We are a major employer of jobs in Orange County, it was in our
backyard and it was a health-related event," PacifiCare President
James Frey said. "But the main [reason] is the charities."
Unlike many other marathons, the OC Marathon is nonprofit and will
donate its proceeds to 10 Orange County charities, each dedicated to
helping area children.
"The theme of the marathon is 'Run for the Children.' " Race
co-founder Steve Robinson said. "The charities really run the full
spectrum of children in need."
Shawn Dracoules, who works for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Southern California chapter, said the marathon will provide her
organization with much needed funds.
"This is extremely important for us," she said. "The goal was to
give each charity $30,000. We would be happy if we received even half
of that amount."
Through the diligent effort of Bough, Sumner, Frey, Robinson and
many others, the marathon has almost reached its lofty goals.
"We wanted to be able to donate all of our entry fees to the
charities," Bough said. "It is close to 100%."
The charitable associations are what makes the OC Marathon
different from other races, Frey said.
"This is better than the New York Marathon, the Chicago Marathon,
the Boston Marathon or the LA Marathon because all of our proceeds go
back into the community through the charities," he said.
The marathon (26.2 miles) and half marathon (13.1 miles) start at
7:30 a.m. at Newport Center adjacent to Fashion Island and will end
at The Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort.
"This is the real OC," Sumner said. "They film the TV show in
Malibu, but people are going to see the real OC when they run."
The full course starts near the Hard Rock Cafe, makes its way from
San Miguel Drive, winds down University Drive and eventually loops
around the Irvine Spectrum before turning toward Back Bay Drive for
the final leg.
The first five and last six miles of the marathon and half
marathon are the same. The half marathon will turn left on Harvard
for two miles before connecting to the bike path on Michelson to head
toward the finish.
Sumner, who has been the race director of the Orange County Half
Marathon, said the difficulties in putting together this event
"In February and March, [the difficulty] was advertising because
there were so many naysayers," he said. "It took two months to get
people to believe the race was actually going to happen. In July and
August, it was traffic plans for the course. People usually are not
in open arms about having 10,000 people in their neighborhood, so we
had to make sure everyone could get to Starbucks. Now, it's logistics
and we have to execute on Sunday. We had obstacles people thought
were insurmountable, but here we are."