Santa Monica resident Gary Roberts is known as a “Legacy Runner,” someone who has has participated in all 25 of the Los Angeles Marathons.
“I started running long before the Los Angeles Marathon started in 1986,” Roberts told the Mirror. “I had probably run about 75 marathons in total, all around the world. But living in Santa Monica and LA, you want to run in your home town.”
Robert admits to being 65 (“I hate to give out my age because I feel a lot younger than this”) and was 40 when he ran the first LA Marathon.
“They probably had about four or six thousand runners. The course started at the Coliseum and looped around the city and finished either downtown or back at the Coliseum. But 25 years ago we were a lot younger and a lot faster!”
Roberts says he did a lot of training back in those days because he did four or five marathons a year, all the major American races and some in Europe. His best time was three hours, 14 minutes; his best in the LA Marathon was about three hours, 20 minutes (“the time I kind of settled into. If you want to train even harder you can knock a little time off that.”)
These days however, Roberts, a longtime business owner and former CPA, takes it somewhat easier when it comes to preparing for the race. “I do a lot of climbing and quite a bit of walking and I play around with weights a bit but I don’t really run any more. I used to run 40 miles a week but in fact, in this year’s marathon I’m just going to go out and run just like I did last year. I’m in good enough shape; I’ve been through so many of them. I wouldn’t think of going out and running ten miles as a training run.”
Because this year’s Marathon ends in Santa Monica, Roberts, who has lived in the Santa Monica-Pacific Palisades area for 30 years, will be enjoying a special advantage. “I’ll be finishing just a block from where I live.”
In the past, Roberts said, he had to have someone drive him through traffic to the downtown Los Angeles area. This year, he’ll be taking a shuttle to the starting line at Dodger Stadium. “And after it’s over I can just walk home.” Roberts’ wife, children (two daughters, four grandkids), relatives and friends will be cheering for him as he races “I never had any intention of running 24 or 25 marathons but it just worked out that way. Here we are at 25 and I don’t know how many more beyond that — we’ll see.”
Mirror Contributing Writerlynne@smmirror.com