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Half-marathon winner Allison Delancey high-fives second-place finisher Lilyana Morejon during the 2012 Long Beach Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (Steve McCrank / Staff Photographer)
LONG BEACH -- As the sun rose over downtown Sunday morning, the runners, walkers and observers all came to the 28th annual Long Beach International City Bank Marathon for different reasons. | Photo gallery: 2012 Long Beach International City Bank Marathon

Some ran for their cause. Some to forget their pain. And some came to be among friends for the 26.2 mile race.

Tracy Pleskacz was thinking about mobility during the 28th. She was working with the charity Free Wheelchair Mission (www.freewheelchairmission.org), which had a tent near the finish line. The group raises money to distribute free wheelchairs to 86 developing countries, including Brazil, Peru, Vietnam and Zambia.

Long Beach Marathon runners make their way up Shoreline Drive on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (Steve McCrank / Staff Photographer)
Long Beach Marathon runners make their way up Shoreline Drive on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (Steve McCrank / Staff Photographer)

"A lot of people take their mobility for granted, but more than 100 million people around the world can't afford or don't have access to a wheelchair," Pleskacz said. "Friends or family members have to carry these people, or some of them drag themselves across the ground."

Since Free Wheelchair Mission formed in 2001, the Irvine-based has helped distribute 650,000 non-electric wheelchairs. Each chair costs $71.88 to manufacture and deliver, Pleskacz said.

"A wheelchair can give people access to school or a job," she said.

A reason to run

Ben Fesagaiga, 39, of Carson, formed Train 4 Autism (www.train4autism.org) in 2007, shortly after his daughter, Avery, 9, was diagnosed with autism.

"I found an outlet in running," Fesagaiga said. "It's my time. It helps me cope with the stress."

The group acts as a conduit, where runners, bicyclists and triathletes can register and raise funds for various autism charities, such as Autism in Long Beach.

Fesagaiga's idea has gained supporters. The group has 3,500 members in 22 chapters across the United States.

This year is the group's fifth consecutive year participating in the Long Beach marathon. During the group's first year, they had 11 runners. About 278 people raced in Sunday's marathon.

LGBT running club

Mike Klyde is president of the Shoreline Frontrunners of Long Beach ( www.shorelinefrontrunners.org), a running and walking club for the area's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

He completed his sixth race Sunday, his third in Long Beach.

"I race because it's one of those mind over matter things. There's a sense of accomplishment when you finish," Klyde said. "I'm 50, and I'm not on any medications."

Twenty one members ran the full 26.2 miles and the other four, including Klyde, finished the half marathon.

The club has 125 members and was formed in 1984.

A reason to run II

Olivia Hernandez, 30, of Rancho Cucamonga, was one of a team of 20 people who raced to support the Children's Tumor Foundation (www.nfendurance.org), which funds research to help end neurofibromatosis.

The genetic disorder causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body with a variety of complications (deafness and brain tumors) and variation in severity.

But Hernandez's reason is possibly the most personal.

Her grandmother, mother and uncle all died from neurofibromatosis, she said.

"It's very personal. I have it. That's why I'm deaf," said Hernandez, who is the team's co-captain.

This year is the team's fifth time competing in the marathon. Last year, the team raised more than $10,000, Hernandez said.

Drink plenty of fluids

About five hours after the marathon started, volunteers at the medical tent saw about 30 half-marathon participants for dehydration, said Gail Carruthers, an emergency room doctor at a local hospital.

"This is worst year we've seen for dehydration, and last year was hotter than this year. These people weren't training properly," she said. "They needed to be drinking their fluids."


phillip.zonkel@presstelegram.com, 562-714-2098, twitter.com/zonkelpt