Marathons Stops and Starts

FRESNO, Calif. Dick Beardsley plans to be just another face in the crowd when runners cross the finish line Sunday. But Beardsley is no average marathoner. He's a legend, best known for finishing second in the 1982 Boston Marathon -- the infamous "Run in the Sun" -- and he reaches back to those early days to give advice to people running this weekend. "If you think you're going slow enough at the beginning, you're probably going a little too fast and you need to slow down," he said.

Like the runners, drivers will have to slow down. Long rows of Port-A-Potties at Woodward Park are not the only sign of the upcoming marathon.

18 electronic road closure signs and countless orange pylons warn of traffic trouble on Sunday. For churches inside the marathon route, the trouble will probably keep some worshippers away. Masses will carry on as scheduled here at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, but it will take a convoluted detour just to get here. They posted it in their weekly bulletin and parishioners who tried it say the detour will take an extra 15 minutes.

The Lord of Life Lutheran church in Clovis canceled its early services and postponed its 11 a.m. service until 11:30 a.m., hoping runners will clear the streets by then.

Marathon organizers actually altered the route this year to make it less inconvenient, leaving Willow Ave. open for example. But the marathon is no inconvenience for vendors at the Health and Fitness Expo. They set up Friday afternoon to sell athletic gear, drinks and other running accessories.

Beardsley will also be there, delivering a motivational speech to let runners know they're in for a big change. "When you cross that finish line, it'll change your life forever," he said. "You'll never say you can't do something again." And that includes beating a legend. Because of injuries, Beardsley expects a lot of people to finish ahead of him.

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