Determination drives Bautista to finish line

Being among the best is something most people aspire to; for Sal Bautista, being among the top 10 runners or the first Latino to finish this year’s marathon has transcended an aspiration, as he hopes to turn it into a reality at this Sunday’s L.A. Marathon.

Bautista has been running since his senior year in high school.

Three years later, Bautista hopes to run the Marathon in two hours and 25 minutes.

This means cutting 13 minutes from his time during last year’s marathon , cross country and track coach Dean Lofgren said.

“I expect to be in the top ten runners or be the first Latino to finish the marathon,” he said.

In an effort to accomplish his goal, Bautista has been training intensively for more than a month.

“I ran six to seven miles a day and then I ran more,” Bautista said. “One month ago, I was running twenty-two miles a day.”

Bautista has accompanied his rigorous training with a diet filled with plenty of vegetables and carbohydrates.

However, as Sunday approaches, Bautista has had to reduce the strain with which he trains in order to avoid overexerting himself.

“I am running easy (ten miles a day) because I want to rest and take it easy,” Bautista said.

Bautista has not only sacrificed himself physically; he passed the opportunity to win first place in the state finals as a 10,000 meter track runner as part of the EC track team.

His love for the marathon goes beyond his desire to run intercollegiate track, Lofgren said.

“(Bautista’s absence) is just a potential big loss of possibly the best 10,000 meter runner in the state for us this track season,” Lofgren said.

Bautista’s teammates have also felt his absence. Nevertheless, they support his decision and wish him luck, teammate Keith Phiboolsook said.

“All I can say is that (the team) has been a little different (without Bautista,)” Philboolsook said. “Good luck Sal, run hard, run fast and break two hours and 25 minutes.”

Bautista said he looks forward to returning to training with the EC track team next season.

Bautista’s effort in this year’s marathon has not been in vain. He said that he hopes to one day become a professional athlete.

“I want to be in the 2008 Olympics, that is my motivation and that is my dream,” he said.