Cal State LA alumna and Assistant Track and Field Coach Julia Budniak ran an inspiring race and finished third in the 31st annual Los Angeles Marathon.
Budniak, who also coaches cross country, was running at a blistering pace when she began to hit the wall near mile 20. Then she heard her name and looked up: Golden Eagle track and cross country team members were cheering her on. The inspiration pushed her past exhaustion and across the finish line.
"They helped me a lot," Budniak said Monday morning. “They ran with me and cheered."
She captured the bronze medal with a personal best time of 2 hours, 44 minutes and 44 seconds. It was her third L.A. Marathon, which have been the only marathons she has run.
"I really had fun," said the 34-year-old Budniak, who was relaxing after her grueling performance, which was three minutes faster than her previous best time. "I can barely walk."
After the race, Budniak enjoyed the spotlight and took questions from reporters at a news conference. She said she made sure to mention that she coached at Cal State LA. She was joined after the race by head Track and Field Coach Tina Fernandes.
Originally from Poland, Budniak earned a master's degree in nutrition from Cal State LA in 2013. She has been a Golden Eagle coach for three years.
Budniak said she's looking forward to running another marathon. But for the time being, she is savoring her medal-winning performance. "I'm really grateful for the opportunity.”
Photo: Julia Budniak displays the Polish flag after her medal-winning performance in the L.A. Marathon. (Courtesy of Budniak)