"It's awe-inspiring," said coach Jinny Magill, who teaches seventh-grade history at Rosemont. "A lot of these kids have never run a mile in their lives."
This was Magill's third year coaching for SRLA, an after-school intervention program sponsored by private businesses, in which students throughout Los Angeles County train for and compete in the Los Angeles Marathon.
Magill, who has been a runner her whole life, had competed in races before SRLA but had never run a marathon.
"I got involved because I wanted to run a marathon," she said.
Running the day of the event was the culmination of six months of training. Magill, co-leader Sara Branin, and the students trained for two hours after school every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and at 7:45 a.m. on Saturdays when they didn't compete in a race.
Branin, who teaches English as a Second Language, said all the hard work was worth it because she met her personal goal of running a marathon.
"I knew the kids would motivate me to run," she said, remembering how it felt to turn the last corner and spot the finish line.
Crossing the white line this year was an even more amazing feat than it had been in the past because of the unusual heat on race day.
"A lot of people were walking," said Cyrus Haghighian, an eighth grader in his second year with SRLA.
Fellow eighth-grader Alan Janoyan said he walked the last eight miles of the race but thinks he might have done better had the weather been cooler.
Chris Nelson, also an eighth grader in his second year competing, said the heat didn't affect him, but he admitted he had been worried about the weather the night before the race.
Magill said since the heat had sickened several runners, she was relieved when the last student from her running club crossed the white line.
Linda Ragusa said she still remembers when her eighth-grade daughter, Rosetta, finished the race.
"When she crossed that finish line I was in tears. It was amazing," she said. "I'm encouraging her to do it next year."
The proud mother said Rosetta even motivated her father, Sal, to run the last 6.2 miles with his daughter, who carries a 4.0 grade point average.
When asked why she wanted to juggle school and training instead of concentrating on her studies, Rosetta's answer was simple: "It's a nice way to be different," she said.