Reverend Dr. Joyce Stickney gazed around Dodger Stadium as the sun rose in the early morning of March 20 and took the sight in.
“It’s the first time I had seen Dodger Stadium so empty,” said the pastor of St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church in Malibu.
There was no baseball game happening on the famed venue’s field. Instead, Stickney and around 300 other Team World Vision participants met in the stadium for a few moments of prayer before they went to the starting line of the 37th annual Los Angeles Marathon, which was outside the stadium’s doors.
The members of Team World Vision, a Washington-based Christian humanitarian organization, were set to run and walk in the famed L.A. running spectacle to raise funds and awareness for clean water in Africa. The group prayed to be joyful in hope, faithful in prayer and persistent in the face of affliction.
“It was hopeful,” Stickney said. “We were running for humanity; running for the good of the world.”
Then, it was off to the races.
Stickney, 51, was one of six individuals from St. Aidan’s that participated in the L.A. Marathon’s Charity Challenge, a 13.1-mile half marathon within the overall marathon. The group included Malibuites Elizabeth Ulmer, 60, and Jonathan Graham, 61; Martha Lira, 50, and Doug Suddarth, 55, of Los Angeles; and Joe Pickard, 74, of Westlake Village.
Daniella Feightner, 58, was another Malibuite who was in the Charity Challenge. Twelve fellow city residents —Amir Rahimi, 40; Ani Dermenjian, 55; Chris Doran, 45; Chris Wizner, 39; Dashiel Ross, 31; Garrett Castillo, 57; Mary Hawkins, 78; Rick Wallace, 64; Ryan Needle, 31; Steve Ellis, 67; Steve McLean, 83; and Thomas Pentz 43— ran the full, 26.2-mile marathon course, which began at Dodger Stadium and winded through Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills before ending along Century City’s Avenue of Stars.
Over 15,000 people participated in the endurance event, which was won by 25-year-old Kenyan John Korir in 2 hours, 9 minutes and 7.1 seconds on the men’s side. Delvine Meringor, 29, also from Kenya, but a Romanian citizen, won the women’s race in 2:25.03.
Stickney had laced up her sneakers for the half marathon twice before the coronavirus pandemic. Before hitting Los Angeles’ streets for this year’s event, the avid tennis player kept her racket swinging, cycled, and walked. Stickney said the race was wonderful and enjoyed seeing Los Angeles’ streets and buildings from the view of a runner, instead of a car zooming by.
“It felt like a celebration of Los Angeles,” Stickney said taking note of all the spectators that cheered marathon participants on. “It was so good to be back in the streets of L.A. It was good to see all that positive energy.”
Needle was the fastest finishing Malibuite in the marathon. The former Malibu High cross country athlete completed the race in 3:44:52. Doran ran the course in 3:53:14, and Ellis finished in 4:13:22. Ross finished the marathon in 4:22:24 and Castillo crossed the finish line in 4:41:59.
Wallace, a Realtor and The Malibu Times contributing writer, has run in every version of the L.A. Marathon since its start in 1986, when the race began at the Los Angeles Coliseum. A member of the Legacy Runners, a group of individuals who have ran in every L.A. Marathon, he finished the race with a time of 5:57:23.
Dermenjian, who has now run in 12 L.A. Marathons, finished in 5:53:25. Rahimi completed the race in 6:32:37. Hawkins finished in 6:22:25.
The Charity Challenge was within the overall marathon. Charity runners started the race at Dodger Stadium, then merged with the marathon course from miles 6 to 18. Then, the charity participants continued on their own race route.
Graham finished the Charity Challenge in 2:03:26, and Feightner in 2:16:49. Ulmer’s race time was 2:42:55. Stickney finished in 3:47:44.
The times of the other St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church members were Lira (3:08:17), Suddarth (3:08:17), and Pickard (3:37:44).
Two Malibu faces that were missing from the event were Alberto “Barefoot” Perusset and Emily Gallin.
Perusset finished November’s L.A. Marathon in 6:59:35, sans any shoes, of course. He had run in 18 consecutive L.A. Marathons, and 250 total marathons, and had completed a world-record 214 marathons barefooted before he passed away last December.
Gallin was the fastest American woman in the 2020 marathon. She finished the women’s race fourth overall with a time of 2:36:04. Gallin didn’t participate in this year’s marathon due to the birth of her son, Pearce Gallin, on Feb. 3. She has her sights set on next year’s race though.
“Hopefully, I can run some races by the end of May,” Gallin said via text message. “I’m signed up for the Carlsbad 5K, which is a super-fast race. We’ll see how my recovery goes.”
Stickney recommended that everyone participate in the L.A. Marathon at least one time.
“It’s a great experience,” she said.