By Mary O’KEEFE
Months of training came down to 26.2 miles that weaved through Los Angeles streets, past Hollywood landmarks and down to the beach in Santa Monica.
Over 24,000 runners pounded the pavement on St. Patrick’s Day to participate in the 28th Annual ASICS L.A. Marathon. The weather was not too hot, not too cold. With no rain, clear skies and nothing but miles and miles ahead of them, runners took off from Dodger Stadium at about 7:29 a.m. Sunday morning.
Among the massive number of runners were local marathoners including kids and community leaders.
Rosemont Middle School started PWR (Power Walking and Running) Club this year and over 20 kids from the club ran and completed the L.A. Marathon. The middle school students and one high school student trained since September with mentors including Terry Parker and Brad McDonald.
Parker is a marathon veteran who brought Student Run L.A. to Rosemont Middle School years ago. Rosemont was one of the few schools outside the L.A. Unified School District that had joined SRLA. The program was very successful at Rosemont until a few years ago when, due to budget issues, schools outside of the LAUSD could no longer participate. Parker had stepped down due to knee surgeries and a replacement for the coach was difficult to find, so the program went dark until this year.
Parker had seen what running and finishing a marathon meant to the kids he had coached. Despite still having knee issues, he decided to start a running club that would train kids not only how to run but how to walk the 26.2 miles as well.
“This time I decided to add John Wooden’s ‘Pyramid for Success’ [as part of the program],” Parker said.
Each week Parker would give his kids a pyramid skill, like perseverance, that would help them see it through those miles and push them through after they hit “the wall.”
Coach McDonald, also a marathon runner, was there pushing them on while giving them encouragement and support. He spoke to the kids about how to push past the wall, the point when runners feel they may not be able to go on. For some it is mile 17, for others it’s mile 22, but during a practice McDonald told the runners they would all face that challenge.
“You just push through it and then you can make it,” he said at an early morning Rose Bowl run.
Lucas Martos-Repath, an eighth grader, felt tired and sore after his first marathon, but he wasn’t sorry he ran it.
“It was worth it,” he said.
When asked what surprised him about the run, he said, “How easy and how much fun it was running through all parts of Los Angeles.”
Martos-Repath added the club members couldn’t have completed the run without the coaches.
“I want to thank them for starting the club and encouraging us to finish,” he said.
In an email after the race, Parker wrote to his runners:
“Way to go guys and gals – you all finished the 2013 L.A. Marathon!! Therefore you are all winners in my book. Now relax this week and rest up. Remember next Monday, March 25th, to wear your medal and the fluorescent yellow-green marathon T-shirt. Wear it proudly. I am so proud of all of you and your incredible effort over the past six months.”
The kids weren’t the only ones who are proudly wearing their finisher’s medal. Locals Chris Waldheim and Mary Pinola walked the marathon as they have for years. They do this as part of a fundraiser for the Mary Pinola/CV Chamber Education Fund. Waldheim, owner of J’s Maintenance, is a strong community supporter who is the volunteer power behind events like Oktoberfest, Relay for Life and Prom Plus.
“This was my seventh marathon,” Waldheim said. It was about number 20 for Pinola.
Over the years, the course has changed. In the past, it started at Universal Studios and ended in downtown Los Angeles. The course to the beach is relatively new.
“This course is really a fun mix of Chinatown to Hollywood to Brentwood to Santa Monica,” Waldheim said. “The best thing about continuing to do it is that our age brackets increase and our standings continue to improve. Mary was 46th in her division this year!”
Besides the upcoming Smart-A-Thon, this is the biggest fundraiser for the Mary Pinola/CV Chamber Education Fund. Pinola has an anonymous donor who matches the amount raised if she passes the $5,000 mark and, thankfully, “she has done that for almost all the years since I started walking,” Waldheim added.
“Two years ago we had torrential rain, last year was 50 degrees and windy most of the day and this year was overcast, but on the warm side. The bands, community groups, spectators, etc. that line the route are amazingly motivating. Everything from Mariachi music to Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’ kept us going,” Waldheim said. “The thousands of volunteers manning the water and aid stations are welcome relief for most, but this is the second year that I have carried all my food and water for the day, bypassing all the aid stations. I like being self-supported, it adds a layer of planning.”
This L.A. Marathon was an emotional one for the family and friends of Amir Teymouri. Teymouri died in a fatal car crash on La Tuna Canyon Road on March 7. He was a husband, father, friend and volunteer/mentor. He had touched many lives through his work at Montrose Church and its youth center. Teymouri had been training for the L.A. Marathon and was going to run it as a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
“His first marathon was the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in June,” said Sonia Meena Rahm, Teymouri’s sister.
A cousin had been diagnosed with lymphoma eight years ago. In support of their family member, Rahm signed up to run the Long Beach Marathon. Her parents and brother Saeed came out to cheer her on and they soon decided to join the marathon fundraiser. In 2012, Teymouri joined the family of marathoners and ran in San Diego.
Rahm said he reached his goal of raising $2,000. By all accounts, Teymouri was someone who could reach out to everyone. He would listen to kids at the youth center, help guide them and encourage them.
Jeff Carr’s son was one of those middle school students that Teymouri had touched. He decided not to let the dream of running the marathon slip away. He formed a team and together they ran the 26.2 miles in Teymouri ‘s memory.
Teymouri’s friends Carr, Andy Reyes and Adam Leach, in a relay-type run, joined Rahm, her brother Saeed Teymouri and sister-in-law Adriana Teymouri. Another friend, Brian Robertson, organized and coordinated the runners.
“We didn’t know each other when we started the race,” Carr said of Teymouri’s friends and family. “But by the end, we were all family.”
Both Carr and Rahm said they felt Teymouri with them as they ran.
“One thing that happened … we were running and we saw this guy with a sign that said, ‘Go Team Amir,’” Rahm said.
“He was yelling, ‘Go Amir team’ so we asked him if he knew Amir,” Carr said. “He said ‘no.’ He had seen the story on KTLA and was so touched and moved by it he wanted to do something.”
The entire family came out at the end of the race and crossed the finish line for Teymouri.
In a way, the race was an extended wake for Teymouri.
“We talked about Amir during the race, shared stories and laughed,” Carr said.
“We saw how many lives Amir had touched,” Rahm said.
In the end, the race meant something to everyone who ran it. It meant support for the community, a gesture of support for a lost loved one and for those young kids that crossed the finish line … it meant they could do anything.
The run for Teymouri was also a fundraiser to help his family. Donations are still being accepted and checks can be made payable to Montrose Church with “Teymouri Family Fund” in the memo line. Mail the donations to Montrose Church, 2678 Honolulu Ave., Montrose 91020. Or send an electronic donation through http://montrosechurch.org/teymouri.