Chris Louie has run 132 marathons, and as many as three in three days and five in seven days. His first one, which he didn’t attempt until after age 30, was the Los Angeles Marathon. Louie often serves as a pacer for a group of runners who intend to finish a race within a certain time. Since he has run so many marathons, it was not at all ludicrous to ask him to choose a couple handfuls that he feels are his favorites — he has so many to choose from. —The Editor
Los Angeles Marathon
At what other time is there no traffic on the streets of Los Angeles, allowing you to run free in the middle of the street? Starting at Dodger Stadium, the course this year wound its way through the streets of L.A., Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Hollywood and Beverly Hills, and finished at the Avenue of the Stars. The marathon annually attracts more than 22,000 participants and is normally held in March. But this year, due to the pandemic, it was run in November.
Avenue of the Giants Marathon
Located in Northern California, the Avenue of the Giants Marathon takes runners on a scenic tour of Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The 300-foot-tall giant redwoods line the course while the flowing waters of Bull Creek and Eel River are almost always in sight. Held in May and September, the 10k, half and full marathon options provide something for the whole family. Hiking, swimming, biking and fishing are just some of the options to enjoy before or after the race.
Moab Trail Marathon
Starting at an altitude of 5,900 feet at Dead Horse Point, the course makes its way toward central Moab. As the gentle trail winds downhill through a canyon, spectacular views of the red sandstone, green junipers and giant pine trees greet the runners. With 1,500 participants in the full, half or 5k, the Moab Trail Marathon is one of the hidden gems on the race calendar. Being able to run while taking in the vistas makes this race a favorite for outdoor enthusiasts.
Santa Clarita Marathon
Nestled just north of Los Angeles, the annual Santa Clarita Marathon celebrates its 25th anniversary in February 2022. Held mainly on the paseo trails within the city, the full marathon course provides a glimpse of many neighborhoods. This certified course can be used to obtain a Boston Marathon qualifier and has pacers to help you reach your goals in both the full and half-marathon distances. As this is my hometown race, I hope to see you there.
Running a marathon in Tanzania can be awe-inspiring. At the start, you can toe the line with several elite runners from Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia. Their finishing times in the range of 2:10–2:25 would earn them a podium finish in most marathons. The course starts at the local stadium in Moshi, and the first few miles are an out and back, which affords you the opportunity to see the lead pack effortlessly gallop at a 5-minute-per-mile pace. At the 15km mark, the climb starts up the mountain with the steepest being a slope of 9.8%. Your quads will thank you as the route returns down the same slope, providing for a fast finish back to the stadium.
Machu Picchu Marathon
Described as one of the most difficult marathons in the world, the course follows the Inca Trail from just outside Cusco to the legendary Lost City of the Incas. With more than 10,000 feet of climbing from start to finish, the run starts near the archaeological site of Llaqtapata at 8,400 feet and reaches its highest point of 13,800 feet at Dead Woman’s Pass. Descending and climbing three more “hills” including Runkurakay Pass at 13,000 feet, the course earns its challenging reputation. The history and ruins along the way take one back to an ancient civilization that used a similar path to get to the sacred Machu Picchu ruins.
Started in 1897, the Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon and one of the world majors. Qualifying times are based on age and gender, and with more people running marathons, the field has continually become more competitive. Starting in the small town of Hopkinton, friends and family members line the streets as the course makes its way through eight cities and towns. Along the course, the “Women of Wellesley” enthusiastically greet all runners before they make their way to the town of Newton, home of Heartbreak Hill.
Great Wall Marathon
In endurance sports, when you hear the proverbial phrase of “hitting the wall,” it means you must slow down or even stop running. But running on a wall is another challenge. The first five miles are run on the Great Wall, where uneven cobblestones made slick through wear and tear greet you with every step. After finishing this portion, the course leaves the wall and traverses villages where the locals greet you with smiles and much-needed bottles of cold water. The last few miles take you back to the wall for a final climb. The views from the wall of the surrounding valley help to make the 5,164 stairs you climb more bearable.
Death Valley Marathon
Normally, one would think it would be too hot to do anything in Death Valley much less run a marathon. However, with a race date of late January/early February, the temperature at the start is consistently in the low 40s and rises to the low 70s by midday. A special feature of this race is that the entire course is below sea level and relatively flat. As you wind your way through the valley, it affords you views of surrounding mountain ranges, including the Panamints and Cottonwoods.
Among the many marathons that Chris Louie ’91 has run are five of the world’s major marathons and the Boston Marathon, which he has completed five times. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in the LMU Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering.