Ryan Rodriguez had two location options to choose from for his leg of a countrywide relay. His choices were the city of Banning, in Riverside County, or the town of Amboy, in the Mojave Desert.
Regardless of which area he ran through, the 41-year-old Huntington Beach resident wanted to participate in One Run for Boston — a continuous relay from Los Angeles to Boston that started June 7 and ends June 30.
"Amboy is the hottest place on earth, practically. It can get up to 120 degrees out there," said Rodriguez, who eventually picked Banning as his portion of the relay. "I wanted a leg that was a little bit closer [to home] and a little bit cooler. I didn't want to get into that severe heat."
The event isn't a race but rather a sign of support for those affected by the April 15 Boston Marathon attack, which killed three people and injured 260 others. The money raised during the event will be donated to One Fund Boston, set up to aid victims.
The relay route covers more than 3,000 miles and works its way through 14 states, according to the event's website. Event organizer Danny Bent said the finish line will be where the marathon would have ended.
On Saturday, Rodriguez ran 10.5 miles through Banning and Cabazon and handed off the baton before hitting Palm Spring's city limit.
Before running his stretch in Riverside County, Rodriguez scouted the area to figure out what he was up against.
"It's partially dirt roads and it's very rural, but it's going to be a fun time," he said before the run.
The avid marathoner began running in high school but only started taking the sport more seriously in the past four years, he said.
"It went from a hobby to a love," Rodriguez said. "I've stuck with it ever since and I love every minute of it."
It isn't the first time he's participated in an event honoring those affected by the attack. Huntington Beach running blogger Tiffany Henness organized an event at the Huntington Beach Pier a week after the tragedy, and about 80 runners ran together to show support.
Rodriguez was informed by Henness about the relay in late May and signed up the first chance he got, he said.
"Before this tragedy, the running community was close, but nobody really understood how close the community is," Rodriguez said. "There's just this camaraderie between runners, and I think that between the thousand-plus runners and the 3,000 miles that are going to be ran over the next three weeks, I think this is an important event to be a part of."
The journey across the United States was organized by three British runners who had to trek from London to the starting line in Venice Beach.
Bent, Kate Treleaven and Jamie Hay wanted to do something to show their support for the cause. Treleaven had set up an 8,000-mile continuous relay in England in 2012, and the three figured they would do something similar in America, Bent said.
"It just touched our souls and we realized that we had to do something about it and show our solidarity to those runners who were affected," he said. "This gives people a way to show their support."
The group devised a route through the country and started contacting running groups based around the trail, Bent said. It took time to get the ball rolling but then the idea just caught fire.
"Suddenly it all caught on and people really seemed to connect with it and felt that this is a way to purge the feelings that they've been feeling since that day," he said.