By Mayra Ventura
At only 16 years of age, Antonio Martinez participated in his fifth Los Angeles Marathon, running with Students Run Los Angeles (SRLA) Feb 14.
Martinez has been running the LA Marathon since 2011 with the exception of last year. He is currently a junior at Aspire Ollin University Preparatory Academy in the city of Huntington Park. He is enrolled in the spring semester at East Los Angeles College, taking calculus and an English class.
More than 25,000 runners participated in the “Stadium to the Sea” course. Beginning at Dodger Stadium, participant ran west through some of Los Angeles’ most iconic landmarks and neighborhoods until reaching the finish at Santa Monica Pier.
The 31st Annual Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon featured a melting pot of elite athletes, legendary runners, SRLA student runners and runners from different counties and all over the country. Participants in wheelchairs were also present.
Martinez is one of the thousands of teenagers and preteens who participated in this year’s LA Marathon with SRLA.
“The LA Marathon is a good experience. The triumph is the main piece, it’s about finishing it, it’s about the mental and physical endurance, not only about running,” Martinez said.
Students Run LA was made possible thanks to Harry Shabazian, a teacher in East Los Angeles who had finished the marathon and felt a transformation from the experience.
He then challenged his students to train and run the LA Marathon with him the following year. Students that were labeled underachievers and misfits, not only finished the marathon the following year, but continued on the path to higher education.
With the efforts and dedication of Shabazian and the teachers who joined him, in 1989 Roberta Weintraub, a member of the Los Angeles Board of Education, saw a change in dropout prevention with the program. She and Deputy Marsha Charney proceeded to establish the program in LAUSD.
In 1993, SRLA became an independent organization, but maintained the same mission and vision for LAUSD students.