The chance of outrunning one Manteca police officer is totally out of the question for fleeing bad guys in the city unless they can cover 26.2 miles without stopping.
That’s what Manteca Police Lt. Tony Souza, 48, did as he broke four hours in his elapsed time Saturday in the 26.2 mile street course of the 31st International Marathon in Sacramento.
“It was brutal. I didn’t expect it to be that hard,” Souza said remembering the biting 25-degree temperature.
His 20-year-old daughter Taylor, who is a student at Modesto Junior College and works for the Bank of the West in Manteca, came close on his heels at four hours, 28 minutes. Souza’s wife Lori, a Realtor in Ripon, crossed the finish line at 5.5 hours after suffering stomach cramps.
Out of some 7,000 runners, Souza finished 2,650th and was in the top 10 in his age group.
The race started at 7 a.m. on the west side of Folsom Lake and ended up at the east side of the State Capitol in downtown Sacramento. Runners first jogged over rolling hill terrain through Folsom, Carmichael, Rancho Cordova and finally into the capitol grounds.
As the mass of runners warmed up running through the frigid early morning air they discarded their heavy sweatshirts, caps, and gloves, throwing them onto the roadway.
“It was so cold I kept all my clothes,” Souza quipped, adding that after the first four or five miles breathing came easier for him like sitting on a living room couch.
“But, the body pushed back after reaching 21 miles when the hamstrings started cramping really bad – something you just have to push through,” he said.
The longtime Manteca police officer noted there were tons of spectators dressed as different comic characters – one being in a chicken outfit and another in a tutu. Many of the runners were dressed up in costumes as well.
The morning started with competitors being picked up by a fleet of buses at their hotels and shuttled to the starting line area of the competition. Once there he said it took about four minutes to get to the actual starting line through the mass of runners once the gun went off to start the race.
Each runner had a chip imbedded in the tip of one of their shoes that recognized them and began their individual timing clock as they passed the starting line. Officials with pace cards were along the route showing runners their approximate times and distances they had already logged.
Souza said that after covering 21 miles “the brain tells you to stop, but you just have to override that.”
“On mile 24 my legs were just on fire and I had to stop five times and stretch them out for 30 seconds each time,” he said. “It feels like a baseball under your skin.”
He added that his daughter, Taylor, “just keeps going” having already come in first in her age group three years ago at 17 in an Orange County marathon at Newport Beach.
Souza admitted that Saturday’s race was harder than the half marathons he has run in the last two years in Oceanside in Southern California. He said the Sacramento marathon compares to someone running from Ripon north to Hammer Lane and west to the I-5 Freeway. He trained for the run over 18 weeks and made his own 20-mile training runs over the past three weeks.
“The best thing about it being over is that you can eat anything you want and not worry about the calories,” he said.
Getting out of bed on Monday was more difficult, he added, as was climbing up the stairs at home.
“I may just be officially retired from marathons,” he chuckled.
There were more than 20 runners in the marathon from the Manteca, Lathrop and Ripon communities.