Winner of Malibu Race Competed in Memory of Friend, Malibu Olympian

Malibu Half Marathon winner Bolota Asmerom (left) with Sylvie Torrence

The winner of the competitive portion of the Nov. 4 Malibu Half Marathon and 5K Run/Walk ran the Pacific Coast Highway race in the memory of an elite runner who called Malibu home.

Long-distance and 2000 Olympic runner Bolota Asmerom, the 13.1-mile race’s winner with a time of one hour, 11 minutes and 25 seconds, was a member of Team David Torrence. The team was made up of participants who took part in the event to honor Torrence, a pro middle-distance runner who passed away on Aug. 28, 2017 at the age of 31, just a year after representing Peru in the 2016 Summer Olympics. 

In an Aug. 19 interview, Asmerom, 40, a collegiate track athlete at the University of California, Berkeley, in the late 1990s, said his friendship with Torrence began during the younger’s time in the Bay Area as a Golden Bear. 

“He was like the young guy trying to keep up with me in workouts,” Asmerom said. Asmerom said he and Torrence’s friendship grew from there. At one time they were roommates, and when Torrence joined Asmerom in the professional ranks they would often travel to races together. 

“The fire in him was a little bit different from the other kids,” Asmerom said. “David had that fire, but it was a happy spirit. It was like, ‘How are you so competitive, but happy?’ So full of life and positive, but so competitive at the same time.”

During his nine years as a pro runner, Torrence competed and had victories in the one mile and 800-, 1,000-, 1,500-, 3,000 and 5,000-meter races across the globe. He represented his mother’s home country in the Olympics, and had dreams of founding a running program for youths in the South American nation. Torrence was also a staunch voice against athletes using performance-enhancing drugs in track and field. 

Thirty-two of the Malibu Half Marathon and 5K Run/Walk’s more than 2,200 participants were members of Team David Torrence. 

Bianca Torrence, David’s mom and a participant in the 5K Run/Walk with her daughter Sylvie, said the group came together in her son’s honor because he was an amazing athlete and well known in the running community worldwide. 

“David was the athlete’s voice for anti-doping and encouraged everyone to stay fit, eat healthy and always advocated for clean sports,” said Bianca, a local Realtor. “He was a kind, gentle, caring soul and fearless when it came to competing and standing for what is right.”

Asmerom, a track coach, said he was not surprised so many people cherish their memories of Torrence. 

“Even when he was alive he did so many amazing things,” he said. “David touched everybody in the same way. He made them feel like his best friend. He made you feel like you were his whole world.”