Malibu Marathoners Compete in LA

Running 26.2 miles is not an easy task, but a few Malibu residents rose to the challenge at the this year’s LA Marathon on Sunday, Feb. 14. 

The Malibu Times sat down with four local marathoners to discuss their inspirations, goals and unique running traditions.

Amberly Gil

A New Year’s Day tradition sparked a new goal for Amberly Gil. 

Three years ago, she ran 13 miles to ring in 2013, and has added on a mile every New Year’s Day since. This year, the Pepperdine junior logged 16 miles to ring in 2016 and found that she was able to hold eight-minute miles throughout the run — a pace that would qualify her for the Boston Marathon.

“The Jan. 1 run made me realize what I was capable of,” she said. “Once I knew I had a shot, it motivated me to my goal.”

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Gil ran with her goal in mind during her last month and a half of training for this year’s LA Marathon. She crossed the finish line in 3:31:54 and qualified for Boston at only the second marathon she ran in her life.

“I knew I was capable, and the effort I put into it paid off,” she said. “It meant much more than just finishing a marathon.”

Gil hopes to earn a spot in the 2017 Boston Marathon.

Alberto Perusset

Local runner Alberto Perusset has run 107 marathons — 68 of which he has run barefoot — but he will always remember the LA Marathon as his very first 26.2-mile race. 

“There is something about your first marathon you never forget,” he said. “LA is very special for many reasons. It is the biggest race in the area, with almost 25,000 runners. It covers a lot of LA and there are tons of spectators and volunteers.”

Perusset said that staying in shape is the secret to training for so many marathons. He does so by running for an hour every day and doing longer runs on the weekends. 

“People think marathoners run 20 miles a day, but that is not true,” he said. “You need to keep a balance and listen to your body.”

Perusset said that the camaraderie among marathon runners is part of his inspiration to finish marathons. 

“Runners are a big family, and every race you see the same faces,” he said. “When you’re running a marathon, you’re racing against the road and the distance. We all support each other.”

After crossing the finish line in LA, Perusset immediately set his sights on his next race. He has already registered for the the Orange County Marathon on May 1.

“You have to set goals,” he said. “That’s what works for me.”

Ani Dermenjian

Ani Dermenjian ran her first LA Marathon five years ago, just two months after giving birth to her youngest son Alexander. She has run the race every year since, and said that her two sons, Alexander and Christopher, are her biggest inspiration.

“They are the reason I keep going,” she said. “When I feel like I’m going to hit the wall, I call them and they cheer me up.” 

Dermenjian said that training for this year’s race was particularly difficult because she suffered an injury and the race came a month earlier than usual. Despite the obstacles, she crossed the finish line only 15 minutes behind her best time. 

“The boys came out at the finish line and were cheering,” she said. “I looked at my medal and started crying. I forgot all my pain when they put the medal on me.”

Dermenjian said that the high that comes with crossing the finish line keeps her addicted to running. 

“I love dreaming in miles and looking around and seeing all the champions that are running with me,” she added. “You see all kinds of people running and feel so honored to be a part of them all.”

Rick Wallace

Very few people can say that they have run in every LA Marathon, but Malibu local Rick Wallace is one of them. 

Wallace has run all 31 LA Marathons, earning him a spot in an elite group called the Legacy Runners. Over the years, Wallace has seen the LA Marathon cycle through a number of different courses and evolve into a race with thousands of participants. 

“There are more participants, much more support and it is a much bigger deal,” he said. “For the past six years, they have done the best course from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica.”

Wallace starts his training from scratch each year in November and does some of his training runs with the Legacy Runners group. He crossed this year’s finish line in a time of 5:09:29.

“I had a second wind and got a time I was happy with, so that was nice,” he said. 

Next year’s race is definitely on Wallace’s agenda, as he hopes to train better and break five hours. 

“My goal is to keep going year after year, and maybe working my way to 40 years.” he said.

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