LA 1 in 1986 was my first marathon. Since
that memorable day, my life has changed.
This event has taught me valuable lessons
about running and about life. I have
learned to pace myself and stay on course
through the many months of training
leading up to race day. I’ve learned to
believe in the power of commitment. This
day has also become a ritual for my family.
Every year, they come together to cheer
on the runners and wait patiently for me to
complete my task. This marathon is so
much more than a road race in my life. It
is a celebration of the promises I have
made to live a meaningful life, to be an
example and to challenge myself physically and mentally.
This year, my youngest daughter Caitlin is running her first marathon! We have trained together &
have forged a new bond between us as runners. It is yet another wonderful blessing that the LA
Marathon has bestowed on me.
Imagine what you Desire
Create what you Imagine
Will what you Create
– author unknown
My single strongest memory is of Muhammad Ali from
the earlier 1990s. (It was at the start of one of our
marathons, heading North on Figueroa from the
Coliseum area). Ali attended many of these earlier
starts, and I’ve done them all, so sorry, I can’t be
certain which year it was.
Ali is up on the Starter’s stand, waving to us as we go
by. Many, many people are chanting, “Ali! Ali!” while
beginning their own personal endeavor. Despite his
debilitating Parkinson’s, Ali came and gave strength to
many of us.
One of the runners going by got so wrapped up in the
enthusiasm that he removed his LA Marathon runner’s
hat and then, apparently without thinking about Ali’s
Parkinson’s, flung it up to him. The hat was flying on a
curve to pass in front of Ali, spinning as a Frisbee does.
I was amazed to watch Ali’s eyes lock onto the hat, and
see his hand snake out to strike and grab the hat
before it flew past. A cheer from the crowd!
something unique to express themselves — Elvis, Nuns on the
Run, Helen of Troy, etc. I carried a backpack that contained
32 small oranges and medical supplies so I could help people
along the way, which I did, and still do from time to time. As
the years went by, more runners began carrying
their own backpack, not as big or heavy as mine, but they
carried just enough to resupply themselves.
Twenty-five years later, my backpack has become smaller and
lighter. I now carry a Big Blue Banner that says, “Mighty
Mighty 14s” (for the L.A. Leggers “14” pace group) that
usually inspires people to go on. I know I’ll finish no matter
what. I just want to make sure other people do, too. It’s
great to give something to people that helps them finish what
A year ago, a week after running the Pasadena Marathon, I
had an accident at work, hurting my left knee. The ER doctor
said it was just a bad bruise. I had weeks and weeks of
physical therapy with no improvement. That’s when the
occupational medicine doctor decided an MRI would be a good
idea. The MRI showed that my left quadriceps tendon was
80% torn and I would need to have surgery to repair it.
Unfortunately, the surgery was scheduled for AFTER the L.A.
Marathon. So, I walked the 2009 L.A. Marathon with the aid of
a cane and the help of four friends and my wife. Two friends walked the first 14 miles, one walked the
entire 26, and another walked the last four. My wife also met us at mile 22 and walked to the finish
line with us.
I was so happy that there was someone to greet me at the end when I got there after walking for 11
A few weeks after that, I underwent surgery to repair the torn tendon. Because it was such a severe
injury, recovery has been slow. My orthopedic doctor cleared me to start running only a few weeks
ago. So, I will be walking the 2010 L.A. Marathon again. In preparation, I walked the Pasadena
Marathon on February 21st with the help of my wife, who walked the last 10 miles. I completed it in 9
hours and 40 minutes, 1 hour and 20 minutes faster than I walked the L.A. Marathon in 2009.
Some final thoughts:
I don’t recommend putting one’s health at risk for a dream like I did. Every one of us has to make a
choice of what we are willing to risk. I know maybe it was poor judgment risking my left knee and not
being able to walk correctly to keep up the Legacy; however, I was willing to take that risk, and if at
worst, pay the consequences. I just hope that I gave some inspiration to others. It is true that
whatever goes around comes around. Call it karma, but I got help myself. Whatever I do for others,
it comes from my heart. I don’t expect anything in return. But, I know that anyone who sincerely
comes from that place, gets a lot back.
Born: Fort Worth, Texas in May 1955 (The Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll)
Ten years and three months in the U.S. Army (82nd Airborne)
Two wars and 52 parachute jumps, day and night
Airborne! All the way!
(including the 24 at L.A.) and several ultras. As everyone, I’m sure, I did L.A. under
all circumstances – 2 times when I had very bad colds, 8 times when I lived in
Sacramento, and so on. The hardest – the year my daughter passed away from
cancer. There are so many good memories, too. It’s so much fun to see other
Legacy Runners on the course and to be recognized as a Legacy by other runners.
Above all, I love the people of Los Angeles who come out to cheer us on and the
volunteers who work just about as hard as we do.