SOMETHING NEW(ER) CELEBRATES SOMETHING OLD. SOMETHING OLD CELEBRATES SOMETHING NEW

The Los Angeles Marathon Legacy Runners gathered in Culver City, California, yesterday to celebrate their 38th completion of the LA Marathon. There were 107 Legacies before the 2023 race started on March 19th at Dodger Stadium. 95 remained standing when all the counting and timing was completed in Century City. Every year the stakes go up, the odds get longer. The average age of the Legacy Runners is 68. 

But even as the years exact their toll, the camaraderie, affection, determination, and resilience of this special group remains undiminished. Even Alum legacy runners continue to show up and support their brethren who have been able to maintain through another turn of the calendar. 

I had been invited to this post-race celebration many times, being a legacy broadcaster myself. But until this year, I was unable to attend. This year, however, I made the drive up from San Diego with Toya, there to reminisce with old friends, meet new ones, and continue to share the stories that make the sport a special part of each of our lives. 

I also had a chance to peddle some of my books, as many of the LA legacies are members of the Baby Boom generation whose parents, like mine, lived through World War II.

Signing my book for ex-Legacy (36 years) Johnnie Jameson, a fellow native of St. Louis.

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Thanks to Lou Briones and Cliff Housego (pictured below, Lou on the left) for putting the celebration together.

Thanks to May DuBois for hosting yet another year.

May Dubois, our hostest
Master emcee Cliff Housego interviews the Unknown Runner (with a nod to Chuck Barris and the Gong Show). He had the show humming from the start. Like a good sprints starter, the job was to get 'em up, then get ’em out. We obliged obediently.
John Chin wondered, tongue in cheek, which of his streaks would last longer, the LA Legacy, or his marriage to Joyce (now in year 37).  
The fastest LA Legacy, Trini Robles (L), and competitor/friend, John Araujo, already thinking ahead to next year’s battle. Trini is running Boston on April 17th!
“Marathon Goddess” Julie Weiss, another guest, just topped $1 Million raised for pancreatic cancer research in honor of her dad. 
John Sheehan, teacher and coach for 38 years. “The Marathon is a constant in my life when there is so much adversity.”
John’s outlook was echoed by Arlene Fichman, who also shared stories of overcoming life’s challenges via the marathon.

The youngest Legacy is Aimee Wyatt, 53 (she ran the first LA in 1986 as a 16-year-old). The oldest Legacy is Claude Bruni, age 86!

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The idea for a legacy group at the LA Marathon began in 1990, when those who had run the first four were called “Fivers”. In year 15, the idea of legacy recognition ramped up.

Then, in January 2005, before the 20th anniversary race, I emceed a cocktail party at the plush, 290-seat Mary Pickford Theater in Hollywood for the then-289 Legacies. Olympic filmmaker Bud Greenspan was a special guest on what many called “a magical night.”

As the years gave ticked on, time has maintained its ruthless pace, and the LA Legacy number has continued to shrink. There were 182 Legacies left in 2014; 137 in 2019; 116 in 2022; 107 in 2023. Now, 95 remain heading to 2024.

Thanks to the ever-effervescent Denny Smith for coming up with the LA Legacy group, in the first place. Year 39 beckons. Recover well, rest easy.

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In the something old celebrating something new category, The Boston Athletic Association and Bank of America announced today that BofA will become the first presenting partner for the Boston Marathon beginning in 2024. The signing comes after the BAA’s 38 years with John Hancock Financial Services ends this year.

JH was Boston’s first ever sponsor in 1986, and it was both life-saving and groundbreaking, a partnership that advanced the fortunes of both the marathon and JH.

By adding Boston, BofA will now sponsor two of the six Abbott World Marathon Major events, Boston in the spring, Chicago in the fall. BofA has been with Chicago since they purchased LaSalle Bank in 2007.

The fact that BofA has taken on Boston is a testament to the value they must have accorded their long relationship with Chicago. It also underscores the value of major marathons as investment properties from a sports marketing standpoint.

“Bank of America saw us a different,” said BAA CEO Jack Fleming in a text message following the announcement. “And it sees opportunities in the future, more than just with the marathon, but in everything we do.”

That last bit makes the BofA sponsorship broader than John Hancock’s, as they focused specifically on the Boston Marathon.

As with JH, though, in acknowledgment of the Boston Marathon‘s century-plus heritage and iconic stature, the BofA name will not appear first in the new title, but after as the Boston Marathon presented by Bank of America. All in all, win-win. Onward!

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