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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Students Run Los Angeles

High school and middle school students from around Southern California train for the Los Angeles Marathon and learn life skills in the process.

More than 20,000 runners turn out annually for the Los Angeles Marathon. Among them are students from more than 150 Southern California high schools and middle schools, including Foshay Learning Center in South Los Angeles.

The students start training in September and practice together three times a week after school. They add additional practices beginning at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings as the marathon draws closer.

“Some of the kids [during] the first couple of weeks of September, were barely able to run a mile,” said Shalom Sanchez, Foshay’s volunteer coach for the Students Run L.A. program. “You saw a lot of them walking at first but then they saw that they could do it. It’s actually pretty amazing.”

Jahiro Coreas, the team’s top runner, finished in 14th place out of more than 3,000 competitors at the 18-mile Friendship Run at Hansen Dam in February.

“I’ve actually been training harder and faster,” Coreas said before the marathon. “I’ve been training my mind that I can’t break down that easily anymore.”

The lessons the students learn in training for the marathon last well beyond race day. Foshay marathon runner Armando Alva wants to study German linguistics in college.

“I do want to go to college. That’s like my biggest goal,” Alva said. “I’m going to use the skills I learned here and apply them to my academics [to] achieve those goals: to graduate high school and to get into a four year university.”

Melissa Rojas, one of two girls on the Foshay team, hopes to attend college and major in Environmental Engineering. She says the sacrifices she has made in training for the marathon have helped her work toward her other goals.

“I’m giving up time to just hang out with friends, to spend with family and to focus on academics,” Rojas said. “But ultimately this is showing me endurance so once this ends, I can do pretty much anything once I put my mind to it.”

The student runners are learning not just endurance for 26.2 miles, but also endurance for life.

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