Approximately 3,000 Students Run Los Angeles (SRLA) competitors braved the hot temperatures and challenging course to participate in the 30th annual ASICS Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday, March 15.

SRLA officials, told the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol,  714 racers came from 37 San Fernando Valley area schools including San Fernando High School, Mclay Middle School, Monroe High School, Pacoima Middle School, Panorama High School, and Arleta High School.

San Fernando resident Gustavo Catiz, 18, and Arleta resident Cristian Suarez, 17, were among the top Valley area finishers at 2:51.24 and 2:53:41, respectively.

When asked about the correlation of students finishing the race and graduating high school, Marsha Charney, SRLA executive director said she didn’t know of one specific to a study, but they can see a link.

“It is what we have discovered over the years,” she said. “The graduation rate matches the finishing rate or is very close. Maybe it’s because the marathon is a hard and difficult accomplishment. [The students] know when they do this, they can set their minds to do anything.”

“This was the 26th season of doing this, and we have put 57,000 students through this program,” Charney said.  “Consistently, more than 95 percent of them have finished the race. That same percentage number of seniors graduate from high school and have plans to go to college.”

Marathon officials moved the starting time to 6:55 a.m., which required  many student competitors to catch a 4 a.m. bus to Dodger Stadium, where the race officially began. It would end 26.2 miles beyond the baseball stadium, ending at the Santa Monica Pier. 

SRLA, with the help of mentors and trainers, works with at-risk secondary students to help them experience the benefits of goal-setting, character development, adult mentoring and improved health. One of those challenges is training and competing for L.A’s marathon. Charney said. 

SRLA was established by the Los Angeles Unified School District in 1990.