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BEST FOOT FORWARD MARATHON HAS 11TH SUCCESSFUL RUN.

Byline: CONNIE LLANOS Staff Writer

Some ran to break records, others ran to break stereotypes.

And some of the estimated 2,800 marathoners who hit the pavement Sunday for the 11th annual Santa Clarita Marathon ran simply for the fun of it.

Crowding the sidewalks of the trendy Valencia Town Center, participants and supporters reached almost 4,000.

Kevin Dean, cross country track coach at Palmdale High School, took first place in the full marathon with a time of two hours, 50 minutes and 59 seconds. Stricken with a respiratory illness just three weeks ago, Dean said it was his students who kept him going.

``Working speed with my boys kept me in the race,'' Dean said.

Chuck Teixeira, a longtime Santa Clarita runner, hasn't missed a marathon in 12 years. Teixeira came in a very close second at two hours, 51 minutes and 31 seconds.

Carrie Blakemore was the first woman to cross the full marathon finish line at a quick three hours, 15 minutes and 28 seconds.

``It is the greatest sense of accomplishment,'' Blakemore said, as she caught her breath after her run.

The 26.2-mile marathon course took runners through winding paths and the city's legendary paseos.

As the runners crossed their finish, volunteers cut off chips stuck to the runners' shoe laces.

The electronic devices help get an immediate and accurate time for the runners.

With cameras in hand, families and friends stood waiting for more than four hours to support their loved ones' accomplishments.

Cathy Baldwin and daughter Brianne were waiting for dad Rob Baldwin to finish his first marathon ever.

``All he keeps saying is how this is such a personal accomplishment for him,'' Cathy said.

Accompanied by family friend Alyssa Dibene on Sunday morning, the trio sported painted faces, a colorful banner, and a ton of spirit as they cheered on runners crossing the finish.

``You see the people so happy, it makes you want to run,'' Dibene said.

While the full marathon brought out the experienced marathon runners, it was the 13.1-mile half-marathon that drew the most runners.

Inspiring many, C.J. Howard finished 13th in the half-marathon, with a time of one hour, 21 minutes and 46 seconds -- breaking the world record title he held for leg amputees.

Howard was running cross country at the University of California, Irvine, when he began to feel severe ankle pain. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in December 2002 and his ankle was amputated in April of 2003.

Howard says the first thing he did after the surgery was ask his dad if he knew what the world record for leg amputees was.

``It would have been the worst thing if they would have told me I could never run again, but I knew I could still compete.''

Chuck Howard, C.J.'s father, could not hide the pride from his face.

``People always ask me what I think about my son,'' he said. ``I say I would love to be him when I grow up.''

With a price tag of $140,000, three quarters of the funds from the city and the rest from private donations, the marathon is one of Santa Clarita's biggest events.

Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean was in attendance. Usually involved with the quarter-mile, ``Kid K'' McLean was just glad to see so many people out for the event.

``The city is so proud to host this event. This is such a wholesome event that the goal is to bring as many people from outside to understand what we're about,'' McLean said.

For L.A. resident Mario Gopar, who came in the top 10 for the half-marathon, it was just a fun run. ``Oh, the course was so pleasant and the atmosphere is wholesome,'' the construction worker said.

connie.llanos(at)dailynews.com

(661) 257-5254

CAPTION(S):

7 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color in SAC edition only) Runners leave the starting line during the 11th annual Santa Clarita Marathon held in Valencia on Sunday morning.

(2 -- 3 -- color -- ran in SAC edition only) An estimated 2,800 runners competed in the 11th annual Santa Clarita Marathon. For a list of winners, go online to dailynews.com for a link to the marathon Web site.

(4 -- 5 -- ran in SAC edition only) C.J. Howard of La Crescenta, above, prepares to start the 11th annual Santa Clarita Marathon. Howard finished 13th in the half-marathon in one hour, 21 minutes and 46 seconds. Nearly 2,800 runners competed in the day's races, which included the marathon, half-marathon, 5K and a kid's race.

(6 -- ran in SAC edition only) Runners make their way through the course during the 11th annual Santa Clarita Marathon held in Valencia Sunday morning.

(7 -- ran in Valley edition only) C.J. Howard of La Crescenta runs during the city of Santa Clarita's 11th annual marathon on Sunday morning in Valencia.

Alex Collins/Special to the Daily News
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 6, 2006
Words:820
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