Paced by a departed friend

As Liliana Hernandez dashes over trails in the Verdugo Mountains 10k race on Sunday, she will hear the voice of her murdered coach saying, "just one more hill."

Hernandez's coach, Gretchen Lohr Corrales, was gunned down November 2012 in downtown Los Angeles. Not only was she a mentor, she was also Hernandez's friend and running partner. They were the top female finishers in last May's race, which draws hundreds of runners from throughout Southern California.

"I think she is going to be there in spirit," Hernandez said. "She is going be pushing us to get through it."

Nearly six months after Corrales ran with Hernandez, she was found shot to death inside her car. Her husband, Gilberto Corrales, was later arrested and charged in connection with her death.

He now sits in Patton State Hospital after a judge found him incompetent to stand trial, according to Jane Robison, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

For now, Hernandez is learning how deal with the loss of her friend by keeping her memory alive among a young group of runners.

"She encouraged me to always run," she said. "If you stop running, you are going to stop your goals in life."

Before Gretchen Lohr Corrales' death, she and Hernandez oversaw a running club known as Griffith Park Bobcats, which is made up of 14 local kids 6 to 12 years old.

Gretchen Lohr Corrales, Hernandez said, had envisioned the groups would continue to grow as they continued to remind kids the importance of exercising.

Hernandez has since taken over coaching duties and spends weeknights pushing the young group of beginning and advanced runners to do their best.

At last year's race, she said Gretchen Lohr Corrales encouraged the young runners to "show the adults you guys can do it."

Hernandez is hoping to do the same this year.

The club's advanced runners, she said, have been training hard and also plan to also participate in Sunday's race.

"If more people could run, we would have a happier society," Hernandez said.

What: 3rd annual Verdugo Mountains 10k trail run and hike, presented by Glendale Memorial Hospital

Where: Brand Park, 1601 W. Mountain St. in Glendale

When: 8 a.m. May 5

Registration: Pre-registration is closed, but participants can register to run at 6 a.m. on race day.

More info: (626) 568-3665,


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