Former Clovis East runner Gage Marquez made a big splash at the Lexus Ventura Marathon on Oct. 22.
Marquez, who now attends UC San Diego, finished first in what was his first full marathon. He also set a new course record (2:45.59) and qualified for the Boston Marathon.
The course stretched from the hills of Ojai down to the beach in Ventura.
“I was really happy with the downhill of the course,” Marquez said. “It definitely makes your time look better.”
At the same time, downhill running posed a challenge for Marquez.
“It can take a toll on you physically, so that was a huge obstacle,” Marquez said. “Around mile 20, that’s when my time started to slow down. I was averaging a six-minute pace. It slowed down about 15-20 seconds the next few miles.”
By mile 22, Marquez was down to about a 7:22 mile.
“I hit this huge wall,” he said. “I was physically in pain. I was just trying to find the finish line.”
Marquez, 19, took a break from running after high school. But he couldn’t stay away for long.
“Coming to UC San Diego, I didn’t get recruited, so I had that freshman year where I didn’t really focus on running,” Marquez said. “When I realized that I really miss it and want to get back into it, it was around the beginning of 2017.”
As he started running again, Marquez applied the same routine he had learned at Clovis East.
“I would build up my mileage every week and just keep working from there,” Marquez said. “I would add a long run every couple of weeks and maybe a few speed workouts.”
Stacy Marquez has seen her son’s hard work in high school and in his latest accomplishment.
“He has always been a fabulous runner,” she said. “He really just had the self-discipline and motivation to train himself all summer long. As a family, we are so proud of him.”
With the Ventura Marathon behind him, Marquez can now start planning for the Boston Marathon, which he will be eligible to run in 2019.
“I can’t race the one in 2018 because registration already closed, but I can race in 2019,” he said.
Still, there are a few more hurdles to overcome before Marquez competes in the Boston Marathon.
“There is a huge financial [challenge] that comes with it, flying there, hotels and all that,” Marquez said. “Then I would have to keep training directly for marathons. If I got recruited at [UC San Diego], I would be focusing on 5K, 10K races. That would be a different set of training. It’s up for grabs. I guess you can say 50-50.”
If he does start running in college, Marquez wants to make sure that he doesn’t lose focus on his schoolwork.
“UC San Diego is a really competitive college. To balance school with running is a huge challenge, but it can be done,” he said. “A lot of students here have a really high GPA despite being involved in sports.”
In the meantime, Marquez plans to run in the annual Turkey Trot at Woodward Park in Fresno on Nov. 23.
“He beat people that have been running marathons their entire life,” Stacy added. “We are just really excited to see what he can do in the future.”