FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Legacy runners reflect on 25 years of marathon experiences
Field of 25,000 brings at least that many stories to Sunday's race
LOS ANGELES – March 20, 2010 – Sunday's race will be the 25th edition of
what is now called the Honda LA Marathon presented by K-Swiss. It started
out with a record number of 10,787 entrants in 1986, the most ever for a
first-time marathon race.
On Sunday, there will be 233 men and women at the starting line who will
be running their 25th Los Angeles Marathon, a little more than 2% of the
original field, who brought their experiences to a news conference at
Dodger Stadium on Saturday.
Flavio Bisignano, who at 83 years of age is the second-oldest legacy
runner, told reporters that "I'm doing this to stay healthy and well. I
think in life we have to work hard, play hard and give back. In '69 and
'70 I was a war correspondent in Vietnam, so with all the tramping around
I thought I better get in shape. I've run about 120 marathons.
"I broke my femur with the help of my dog eight months ago. I need to be
cautious but I'm going to hobble along tomorrow and it's going to take me
a long time, but I'm going to finish. I enjoy the companionship of other
The youngest legacy runner, Aimee Wyatt, was just 16 at the inaugural race
and remembered, "I started this with my sister. I was visiting Los Angeles
at Christmastime and saw it being advertised on television. We thought it
would be fun. We'd run about seven miles in the Bay-to-Breakers and
thought we could make at least part of the marathon.
"We started running, went along and looked at each other at the halfway
point, and said this is still fun, so we kept going and finished five
hours and 40 minutes later. It was a long run. In the ensuing months we
forgot about the recovery time and thought it would be fun again."
One of the visual trademarks of the Los Angeles Marathon is the giant
letters spelling out "LA" and the race number at the start. That's another
tradition the legacy runners have carried forward. "For the first
marathon, the family of Elaine Herfert made a great big sign and put it up
in the air so her husband could see where they were in the massive crowd
in the starting line," remembered Lou Briones, known as "Legacy Lou" for
his work in helping to coordinate the legacy entries. Briones said that
Herfert's husband "was ill and couldn't come to the race.
"The following year the Herferts came back and made a sign, "LA II." It
became a tradition. Elaine was a Legacy Runner until 2006 when she had hip
surgery, and didn't finish. In 2007 there was no sign. In 2008 the Legacy
Runners decided we should carry on the tradition. In 2009 we went to
numeric numbers instead of Roman numbers and changed the logo with the new
ownership." Briones, co-coordinator Denny Smith and others will carry the
giant "LA 25" signs in bright orange on Sunday morning.
Briones also commended the marathon organizers for the new Stadium to the
Sea course, starting at Dodger Stadium and finishing at Ocean Avenue and
Santa Monica Boulevard in Santa Monica.
"The new organizers consulted with a lot of the running community and
asked us what we'd like to have on the route and what would be a good
experience," he explained. "This course is a result of those discussions.
The course is hilly. The hills are going to be in the first 10K so it will
be nice to get them out of the way early. The last 3.2 miles is downhill,
not a severe downhill and everyone will love it."
Two non-legacy runners with interesting experiences also spoke to
reporters, one of whom – Ravi Rajan from Los Angeles – will run two
marathons on Sunday! "My plan is to start tomorrow morning at 1 a.m. from
the finish line in Santa Monica and run to the start line at Dodger
Stadium," he said. "I plan to get there, if I follow my directions
correctly, by 6 a.m. and then start with everybody at 7:24 and get back to
the finish line.
"I look sane, but I'm a little insane. I came up with this idea to do a
double marathon through my dad. My dad is legally blind and attends a
school that teaches him how to use the computer by feel. I thought if I
run the marathon and ask my friends for a $1 a mile that would be great,
but if I double the distance than I double the money. I have some crazy
friends who have volunteered to crew for me while I run who will hand out
food and water in the first marathon. The second marathon I'll be on my
own, but that won't be a problem."
A special guest at this year's Marathon is Lt. Jeremy Arnett of the 56th
Stryker Brigade from the Pennsylvania National Guard. He was the organizer
of a "shadow marathon" at Camp Taji, Iraq last year, which was
logistically supported by LA MARATHON LLC and run on the same day, a
continent away. "The support was phenomenal," he said. "It was
overwhelming the amount of support they provided us. We were expecting
about 200 runners, but we ended with 467 runners. We only four heat
casualties. We had one general who made it within three-tenths of a mile
of the finish line and he went down. He needed four IVs. After he finished
his four IVs. he went back to where he went down and finished the race …
ran across the finish line. It was something they will always remember."
How Arnett came to Sunday's race was equally dramatic. "The 56th Stryker
Brigade was deployed home in September 2009 and I kept in contact with
Ginger [Williams, the race's community relations director]. I was doing
the Marine Corps Marathon and the L.A. Marathon surprised me with a visit
by Ginger, who invited all of us who ran at the Camp Taji marathon to run.
"I'm looking forward to the course. It's going to be a vast improvement
over last year (at Camp Taji). I'm taking my camera on it and I'm taking
Arnett is being supported by 2010 Honda LA Marathon sponsors K-Swiss, who
provided him with a set of racing gear and especially by Don Francisco's
Coffee, which will make a donation in honor of Arnett to the Special
Operations Warrior Foundation. Arnett chose the charity, which he
explained "creates scholarships for children of the fallen to be able to
continue their education and go to college."
Legacy co-coordinator Smith annually creates a poem to help motivate the
legacy runners to keep their streaks alive and summed up the sentiments of
many of Sunday's runners this way:
It's now Stadium to the Sea . . .
A course designed so brill-i-ant-ly ...
For greater L.A. and the world.
Eyes will be poppin'
Jaws they'll be droppin'
But when we run down Rodeo . . .
There'll be no time for shoppin'.