Two cities, many stories

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Thousands hit the streets of Fresno and Clovis for the 8th annual Two Cities Race Sunday morning.

Crowds of supporters lined the pathways of Woodward Park to cheer on runners of all ages and abilities. Each took on the course with the same goal-- to cross the finish line. But every single one of them had a different reason for competing.

Amanda Whitten came in 11th among all women competing in the full marathon portion. She's run in 43 races around the country, But, said there's nothing like running at home. "It's our hometown race. You see all of your friends-- you see so many familiar faces and people we know, it's awesome to be able to show our community we have an awesome running community here supporting each other."

It's that support that brings "Team Joseph" to the Central Valley from San Luis Obispo every year. This group of men rallies around 21-year-old Joseph Cornelius, who was born with a severe case of cerebral palsy that's left him unable to walk or talk.

Joesph's father, John Cornelius, began taking him out on walks when he was younger. Those walks turned into runs and they've progressed to triathlons, marathons and half marathons-- all for Joseph. They each take turns pushing the 21-year-old in a covered wheelchair and, side-by-side, cross the finish line together.

"If he's happy, I'm happy. The support of this course and the people in this community are incredible. And I thank you for that-- Makes my son feel so special," said John.

For Jackie Ryle, her support comes in the form of two teddy bears and a stroller filled with 15 pounds of rocks. It's something the longtime runner has to do because of a balance issues. As she approaches her 75th birthday next week, she hopes this activity will keep her going well into her 90s. "It's thrilling to be able to do it, it's thrilling for me, at my age, to do this-- I'm grateful, don't take it for granted, I'm thankful every day."
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.