More Than 200 Runners Compete in Menifee Half-Marathon

The Menifee Half-Marathon went on as scheduled Saturday morning and all but 35 of the nearly 250 ...


The Menifee Half-Marathon went on as scheduled Saturday morning and all but 35 of the nearly 250 registered runners showed up to battle the elements in the 13.1-mile road course.

No major health issues were reported concerning runners, who took advantage of the 7:30 a.m. start and a decrease in winds to minimize the potential health hazards of heat and poor air quality.

Checking the website airnow.gov every few minutes for air quality updates right up until race time, race coordinator Bob Duistermars gave the OK for Mayor Scott Mann to blow the starting horn in front of Mt. San Jacinto College as scheduled.

As runners headed south on Antelope Road on their journey through the southeast part of Menifee, Duistermars said the air quality reports he had monitored all morning showed moderate to good air quality. A few of the runners complained of the effects of the smoky air from fires burning in San Diego County, but air quality did not appear to be a major factor in the race.

"We certainly had no-shows because of it," said Duistermars, who is president and CEO of Central County United Way, which puts all proceeds from the race back into Menifee community programs. "But we didn't have people coming up to us and demanding refunds. The ones here came to run."

The 35 pre-registered runners who chose not to show up on Thursday will not receive a refund of their $75 race entry fee. That money still will go to the United Way designated charities. Many of those who decided to run despite the weather put on strong showings.

The overall winner was 44-year-old Thomas Beyer (left) of Murrieta. He finished in a time of 1:25:31. Beyer led from early in the race on and came across the finish line well ahead of second-place Timothy Christoni, who was clocked in 1:29.33.

Beyer said he is in training for the June 1 Comrades Marathon, a grueling 56-mile run in South Africa.

"This is my tune-up," he said with a smile after the race. "Every three months or so, I run a marathon or half-marathon. It keeps me out of trouble."

Although he obviously is more experienced in running distances races than many who competed, Beyer said he was not concerned at all about the air quality as he ran the race.

"Bunch of worry warts," he said in reference to critics who suggested the event should've been postponed. "It would be better if it wasn't smoky, but it won't kill us."

The top female finisher was Menifee resident Stephanie Bangora (right), 32, who completed the course in 1:42:36. to place ninth overall. She is a physical trainer at the Fitness 19 health club in Menifee.

"I felt fine," said Bangora, who moved here from Atlanta a year ago because of military duty for herself and her husband at March Air Reserve Base. "The smoke was kind of rough in the beginning, but not too bad. It was a good run.

"The support of the people out there was amazing. I don't run a lot of these, but I am in training for a race in October and I want to support my town. I love it here."

Overall winner of the companion 5K race was 15-year-old Kyle Davis (below left), who finished the event in 16:34. The top female finisher in the 5K was Chauntai Marchal, 36, in a time of 22:48.

Runners received support throughout the course by friends and family members who followed their progress and posted updates on Facebook. Volunteers manned water stations at several points of the race, which led runners east on Garbani Road to Briggs Road and further east on a dirt portion of Holland Road in one of the more rural parts of town.

While runners were out on the course, music blared and vendor tables were open in the parking lot at MSJC, which served as the start and finish point for the runners. Trophies were awarded for top finishers in several age groups.

Runners of all ages took part in both the half-marathon and 5K race. Half-marathon competitors included 44-year-old Eduardo Ayala, a member of the Air Force who lives in Lake Elsinore. He ran the entire race with his dog Max, a 6-year-old German Shepherd mix.

When they finished the race, Max received a medal along with his owner and was rewarded with a squirt of water for his efforts.

"He stays with me and I stay with him," Ayala said. "When I drink water, he drinks water. They took care of both of us out on the course."

Duistermars estimated that between $12,000 and $14,000 was raised through registration fees. All runners received a medal as they crossed the finish line and water was readily available.

For complete race results of both the half-marathon and 5K run, click here.

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