AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week By Mile 21 on Anaheim Street by Recreation Park, Dhaouadi was no longer in sight, and Avalos cruised the rest of the race. “I started out too fast and started to get tired at the fourth mile,” Avalos said through an interpreter. “I had to concentrate then, but after that, I felt great, only a little tired.” Still, for the the majority of the race, it appeared as if victory could go either to the 36-year-old Avalos or Dhaouadi, who won the half-marathon in Long Beach last year. Dhaouadi, however, said that marathons aren’t his strongest races and that he typically does better in shorter distances. That doesn’t mean he came in with a defeatist attitude. “No doubt, I thought I could win it,” Dhaouadi said. “But for some reason, my legs tightened up. Really, I just didn’t have enough mileage in the marathon to do it.” Dhaouadi finished in 2:32:53, beating third-place Fermin Sequen by nearly three minutes. Dhaouadi, a 33-year-old from Tunisia who is training out of Albuquerque, N.M., had such a comfortable lead for second place that he was able to walk briefly at Mile 23. Sequen won last year’s Long Beach Marathon, but a repeat looked unlikely early in the race. “Last year, I ran and won and didn’t have pressure,” Sequen said through an interpreter. “This year, there was more pressure to defend the title.” Sequen, a 37-year-old from Guatemala who trains in Santa Monica, said this was only his fourth marathon. He typically runs 10-kilometer and 5-kilometer races. He added that the surface of the course felt different this year, that somehow the ground was harder. Not taking into account the hard, asphalt street for most of the race, conditions were close to ideal. It was windy at times, but cool enough to not hinder the runners. Though the times by the top three finishers are impressive to the majority of marathoners, it should be noted that race promoters’ focus is not to attract elite runners from around the globe. Avalos won $1,500 for his first-place finish, and promoters raffle off $10,000, eligible to anyone who runs in the race. So while the marathon is competitive, the focus is more to attract runners without elite status. In fact, each of the top three finishers said he considered the race part of training. But that should not diminish Avalos’ dominant victory. The native of Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico, was a magnet for cheers throughout his run. He looked at ease, not pained at all, and when he hit Ocean Boulevard on Mile 24, repeatedly got cheers from half-marathon runners whom he was passing. Dhaouadi, who won the 2002 Salt Lake Marathon and was runner-up in the “Race for Literacy’ 8K in San Diego in May, said that he was surprised by Avalos’ impressive showing. He had seen Avalos compete and did not realize he had the potential to beat him and win. Avalos said he expects to return next year, after running a few more marathons. “I’m just looking forward to the next marathon,” he said. “I’m going to keep it up and just keep running.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Most runners compete in the Long Beach Marathon for personal reasons or to behold the course’s breathtaking beauty. Only a select few actually come into the marathon with an honest chance at winning. For Lionel Avalos, he was one of those select few believing he could win, and he left the race with something new on his resume the title of “international race winner.” Avalos, a native of Mexico, won his first marathon outside of his homeland, finishing in 2 hours, 27 minutes, 17 seconds to take the 21st running of the Long Beach Marathon on Sunday. He won by a safe margin, more than five minutes ahead of second-place finisher Chokri Dhaouadi. Avalos and Dhaouadi shared the lead between Miles 6 and 19. By Mile 20, on Atherton Street by Whaley Park across from Long Beach State, Avalos separated himself.