Runnin’ the streets of Bakersfield


Dylan Bryant

Digital Managing Editor

Nearly 2200 runners from 25 states, and one runner from Ethiopia, came together at CSU Bakersfield on Sunday, Nov. 18 to participate in the third annual Bakersfield Marathon. The race kicked off at 7 a.m. on the Red Brick Road outside Dorothy Donahue Hall. The runners headed north and looped around Bakersfield College before heading back to CSUB, crossing the finish line located on Don Hart Drive East.

The Bakersfield Marathon is a USA Track and Field-certified Marathon, and also includes a half marathon, 2-person half marathon relay, and 5K that take place simultaneously. Elite runners can use the event as a qualifying opportunity for the Boston Marathon, while novice runners might use the opportunity to run their first official race.

The first runner to cross the finish line was CJ Albertson from Fresno, CA, coming in at 2:19:45. Albertson set a new course record for the event. Only 15 seconds behind him was Ethiopia’s Mohammed Temam Hussein. Gisele Schaaf of Lakewood, CA placed first amongst the women, finishing at 3:02:43.

Race Director David Milazzo mentioned the significance of Sunday’s event for the running community in Bakersfield.

“This is driving running interest, which there’s already quite a bit in Bakersfield,” said Milazzo. “So we are seeing a growth. The first year 1,650, last year 1,850, this year a little over 2,150,” said Milazzo, speaking of the number of participants in the race.

Bakersfield’s Jacob Tackett was amongst those participants, finishing at 3:30:06. Tackett says Sunday’s race was his 18th marathon, and his 3rd in Bakersfield. “I just train all year long, I try to always keep in that shape. I’d say for the marathon, just training a couple weeks before, trying to get the body and the mind ready,” Tackett said.

He offered his advice to those considering running a marathon. “Being hydrated, being trained, just being ready for it mentally and physically. A positive attitude is number one, along with hydration. That really is the key,” said Tackett.

Travis Fitzgerald of Concord, CA was perhaps the only participant to complete the race barefooted. Well, close to it anyways. Fitzgerald wore a pair of thin sandals called Earth Runners for the race, and says he has now completed four marathons in them. “I started back in 2010, and I couldn’t run more than seven miles without like awful, excruciating knee and back pain,” said Fitzgerald.

“I fell into minimalist running, I started training actually like barefoot, barefoot. I lived on the east coast and there was this quarter-mile stretch of broken oyster shells. And so I ran back-and-forth on that [beach] on this five-mile loop, and it taught me to run soft and gentle,” said Fitzgerald. He says the sandals fit best with his running style, and he likes them because they allow his feet to dry quickly. He responded to those surprised by his feat – “I marveled at everyone wearing shoes.”

Anusha Kumar of Menlo Park, CA ran her first marathon on Sunday. She finished at 3:45:42. “I wanted to break 4, and I was definitely under that, so I’m happy with my time,” said Kumar. Kumar says concerns about poor air quality were on her mind, but that didn’t deter her from participating. “Even today I don’t think it’s completely in the good category, but I had been training for this, and this was kind of the only one available in this time slot. So I think it’s tolerable for this one day.”

The Air Quality Index for the Bakersfield area on Sunday was 155, according to This means the air quality was categorized as “Unhealthy”. Wildfires across the state have contributed to the poor air.

Milazzo said concerns over the air quality were a huge issue going into race weekend.

“We take it very seriously. At the same time, we want to have a race,” said Milazzo. “We know that most races will run unless you get up into that 200 range, even though it can be unhealthy for sensitive groups… We were trying to be as accommodating as possible, but at the end of the day, we were going to have a race,” said Milazzo.

“I’m really glad that they continued holding it, because I’m from the north bay, and I know a lot of races in that area were cancelled. So I’m really glad I had this opportunity,” said Kumar.

Milazzo spoke about his goals for the Bakersfield Marathon going forward. “Growth. We’d like to see this thing get up into the 3,000 runners by next year,” said Milazzo.

“This is kind-of a double-edged event. It’s a running event of course, and so we want to stay true to the things that runners like and we want to present a race for runners. But then, it’s got a secondary side which is that it’s a community event. It’s got nothing to do with running, it’s about bringing people together… so really we want to bolster the running, and we want to bolster the community, at the same time.