Newbie and ol’ pro prepare for the 20th Los Angeles Marathon

Above, Rick Wallace on March 9, 1986, the morning of his first Los Angeles Marathon. He had no idea he would still be going 20 years later. Below, Jonathan Friedman will run his first marathon this Sunday.

Malibu resident Rick Wallace will run in his 20th consecutive L.A. Marathon this Sunday. The Malibu Times assistant editor Jonathan Friedman

will be running on March 6 as well, his first marathon.

By Kevin Connelly/Special to The Malibu Times

Frank Shorter knows a little bit about running marathons. In the summer of 1976 in Munich, West Germany, he became the first American in 64 years to win the gold medal in the Olympic marathon. Shorter, 29 years old at the time, finished the 26.2 mile race with a time of just more than two hours and 12 minutes.

“You have to forget your last marathon before you can run another,” he is said to have told reporters about the marathon. “Your mind cannot know what’s coming.”

This Sunday, a local resident and contributor to The Malibu Times and an employee of The Malibu Times will have the opportunity to experience what Shorter was talking about first-hand, at the 20th Los Angeles Marathon.

Rick Wallace, a 47-year-old Malibu resident and Realtor, has been through his fair share of L.A. Marathons already, all 19 of them as a matter of fact. In a recent telephone interview, Wallace said he did not necessarily agree with Shorter’s comment. “I like that I know what’s going to happen before I run the marathon,” he said. “I’ll use my experience and [strength of mind] when I run.”

Wallace is a member of the L.A. Marathon’s Legacy Runners, which is a group of 289 people who have participated in each of the 19 previous L.A. Marathons and are registered to participate in this year’s event. There are 258 men in the group and 31 women.

The oldest member is 80-year-old Albert Pugliese, while the youngest is 33-year-old Aimee Wyatt. Yes, this means Wyatt ran in her first L.A. Marathon at the age of 14.

In preparing for the event, Wallace said he starts from scratch every year. This means he does not train at all from the end of the race in March until sometime in August. He begins training anew every year right around Labor Day.

Wallace said his fastest time was 17 years ago in L.A. Marathon III, when he finished with a time of just more than three hours and 59 minutes, breaking the elusive four-hour mark by mere seconds. He said his toughest marathon for him was L.A. Marathon XVI, which he completed in spite of having flu symptoms and only one hour of sleep.

Wallace ran his first L.A. Marathon in 1985 after being inspired during the 1984 Olympics.

“I thought we were going to finish the race [the marathon] inside the Los Angeles Coliseum,” he said.

Wallace did not achieve coming across the finish line at the Coliseum, but he started something else-a string of marathon appearances that have become more impressive with every passing year.

“I’ll stop running the marathon when I’m 76,” he joked when asked when he was going to call it quits. “I don’t know. I’m going to keep running it every year.”

Wallace hopes to run this year’s L.A. Marathon in four hours and 40 minutes, saying he thinks he will more realistically run it in four hours and 50 minutes.

Another Malibu affiliate who has decided to run this year’s race is The Malibu Times’ assistant editor Jonathan Friedman. While not attending council meetings and reporting on the happenings in and around Malibu, the 25-year-old Los Angeles resident has been training for what will be his first marathon.

“I joined the L.A. Leggers in September and began training with them once a week on Saturday,” Friedman said about his preparation for the marathon. “I have lost 20 pounds since September, after nearly two years of inactivity.”

According to its Web site, the L.A. Leggers is a marathon-training program and running club located in Santa Monica, which schedules group runs most Saturdays. There are currently 1,500 members in the club, which Friedman said also includes Malibu City Manager Katie Lichtig.

Training for the marathon has changed the eating habits of Friedman.

“I used to be a big junk food eater,” he said. “I have cut sweets down to a minimum and I’m eating fruits and vegetables, especially kiwis, which are high in vitamin C and fiber. I have to admit, though, my weakness is still the Pizza Hut buffet.”

As for the finishing time he is shooting for in the race, Friedman said, “I’m pretending I don’t really care, but in reality I want to finish in at least four and a half hours because Oprah ran a 4:28. I think I can beat Oprah.”

Whether Friedman will beat the speedy Oprah Winfrey remains to be seen, but he said he is sure to “go wild on Sunday night after the race.” He will turn 26 on Friday, and plans to celebrate both his birthday and the completion of his first marathon with friends and family on marathon Sunday.

He might also have something to celebrate before the race. According to a National Weather Service report late Monday, the weather in Los Angeles on March 6 will be partly cloudy with the highs in the upper 60s and lows in the lower 50s. This is stark contrast to last year’s L.A. Marathon, when temperatures climbed as high as the mid-80s before the end of the race.