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The Exceeding Expectations
Half-Marathon Qualifier
for the Challenged Athletes Foundation Race

September 17, 2006


Ten of the Exceeding Expectations kids competed in their own private half-marathon today.

The stakes?

The five top finishers get a slot to compete in the annual Challenged Athletes Foundation Half Ironman relay race in La Jolla Cove (San Diego) on November 5. Each of the winning kids will be teamed with a physically challenged athlete and will run the 13.1-mile final leg of the relay.

The competitors have been training all summer with Cherie to get ready for this important day. And there were some mighty big surprises and exciting upsets, which reinforced one of the lessons Cherie has been teaching the kids: Don't take anything for granted, especially in a competitive situation!

Here was the gang at the beginning:

Front row: Damien* and pup*, Josh, Jose Lopez. Damien and Josh were adopted last year by Jacques Irons, at right in the pink shirt.
Middle row: Meli Ibara* (Isi and Miguel's father, who ran in every training session), Miguel, Angel Ramirez, Diego Ramirez, Edgar Orozco, Marlene (behind Jose) and Isi Ibarra.
Back row: Cherie, Nik Keller, Vianey Barrios (half-hidden), Jacques Irons*
(* did not compete)


Nik and Vianey loosening up


Nik & Cherie


Nik is doubly motivated. Yesterday was his birthday.
(No, the car wasn't his present. Just the sign.)


Meli doubly motivating Josh


Sag wagon doling out the carbs


Last minute instructions
"There's no crying in marathon!"


Marlene and Miguel trained hard and the butterflies are real


And they're off! This major hill comes in the first half mile.


Isi, Josh and Miguel, in the second pack at this point.


Gee, what a surprise: Jose is in the lead.


But don't take your eyes off a  determined Isi. This kid came to play.


...must...maintain...form...and smile...


You flip the switch, Jose starts running,
and he doesn't stop until you tell him to.


Meli leaves his kids in the dust. "Hey...this is war!"


Nik skimped on training, but he dances in a stage show and
has plenty of heart.


"Thirteen miles? I'm, like...whatever."
By the way, Isi is eleven years old.


Miguel is an early favorite, but is starting to cramp.


Josh is looking good. It's gotta be the hair


Adidas should be paying Marlene some mighty big bucks.


Diego and Angel demonstrate why hearty partying the night before
is not part of the normal pre-race regimen.


A beautiful run course in the foothills of the
San Bernardino Mountains.


Still in the lead. Jose has never seen another racer
from the back in his life.


Benji the second sag wagon. (We had four.)

"Maybe I'll see my kid son the return leg. Or not."


Miguel's cramps got the better of him, but he insisted on finishing anyway.
See his sister Isi on the left? She came in twenty minutes before, and went back
out to run her brother in, with Josh helping out on the right.


And here are your winners, with the coach!
Edgar Orozco, Jose Lopez, Nik Keller, Isi Ibarra and Vianey Barrios.

*   *   *

But wait...that's not all.
McDonald's invited the whole gang for lunch on the house:

Truly, a splendid time was had by all!