Two Decades of Dedication: Legends Celebrate 20th Year of HOAG OC Marathon

May 2, 2024

“Terrific 25” to join over 25,000 entrants for 2024 Hoag OC Marathon Running Festival this Weekend

Orange County, California – May 2, 2024 /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – This Sunday marks a special milestone for the Hoag OC Marathon Running Festival as 25 legacy runners, known as “marathon legends,” prepare to participate for the 20th consecutive year.

Among them are individuals whose lives are as varied as their backgrounds—from an 84-year-old former Playboy bunny to a 34-year-old high school U.S. history teacher, along with a retired aerospace IT specialist. They all share the distinction of never missing a race, covering either the full marathon or the half every year since the event’s inception.

“We refer to our legacy runners as marathon legends,” said Race Director Gary Kutschar. “Their commitment showcases not only personal endurance but also the history of this event as a community tradition, which has seen its fair share of memorable moments, from inclement weather to record participation in 2024.”

Come early Sunday morning, the 25 Marathon Legends will line up in front of the VEA Newport Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, and dart off, continuing a tradition that now spans two decades.

Few people have led as fascinating a life as the 84-years-young Vikki Richardson, who began running at the age of 50 when she decided to run a marathon to celebrate the milestone birthday. Like all the Legacy Runners, she vividly recalls the first race, when participants braved a cold rain.

“I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which I stuffed in my bra,” she said. “That’s where we carried a lot of things. It was the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich ever.”

A member of the Inland Empire Running Club, Richardson lives in West Covina and practices the run-walk method, alternating running for one minute, walking the next minute.

“The fun for me,” she said, “is the ability to move myself under my own horsepower. I can speed up. I can slow down. I can run hills. I can run down hills and that amazes me. I don’t’ need to slow down. I’m already slow enough”

She said she never envisioned being a Legacy Runner.

“It just kept coming up every year and I was encouraged to come back. People like (race director) Gary Kutscher encouraged me. I love Orange County, and I look forward to seeing the incredible people.”

At 34, Tara Razi is the Legacy Runners baby. She ran the half marathon back in 2004 when she was 15, a sophomore at Aliso Niguel High School and was training for a marathon.

She kept her legacy streak alive one year despite undergoing toe surgery a couple weeks before the event. While a student at Chico State, Razi scheduled her Study Abroad program to Australia in the fall semester so she would not miss the race.

When he was in his late 40s, Richard Eimers was inspired by watching his son Matthew run on the Newport Harbor High School cross country team, which won a state championship.

Said Eimers, who lives in Newport Beach, “I said, ‘Gee, he lost a lot of weight. He’s slender. I can do that.’”

And so Eimers, now 79, took off on his own running adventure, which now includes 38 half marathons, 22 marathons and 12 ultra-distance marathons.

It takes perseverance and dedication to keep a streak intact for two decades. Eimers demonstrated his resolve one year when he was building a retaining wall two weeks before the race and a wooden post fell on his big toe.

“I wasn’t wearing steel-toed shoes, and it felt terrible,” he said.

But he gutted it out come race day, finishing the half marathon in his slowest time ever, 2 hours, 54 minutes. His fastest time is 2:02.

What keeps Eimers coming back is the running community.

“It’s seeing people you haven’t seen in a long time,” he said. “It’s good to see the Legacy Runners. If you see them running down the course, I think, ‘Oh, you’re still around!’”

Running is a family affair for the Eimers. Sons Matthew and Mike have run multiple races together with their father. Matthew helped train students at the Davis Magnet School to participate in the Kids Run The OC, where students run 25.2 miles during a 10-12 week training program, then run the last mile the day before the marathon.

In fact, running has now seeped into the third generation of the Eimers family. All three of Matthew’s children participated in the Kids Run The OC program.

“The OC Marathon and Half Marathon is great,” said Matthew. “The course is beautiful, one of the most beautiful courses I’ve ever seen.”

Other OC Marathon and Half Marathon Legacy Runners include Gary Citron, Vicki Walker, Yen Darcy, Iyob Tessema, Carl Rogers, Wendy Baugh, Dexter Emoto, Louis Salgado, Dean Kozono, Melanie Tsutsumi, Mary Garmshausen, Jim Grimes, Raul Herrera, Issam Khalaf, Jean Laroche, M.G. Montgomery, Dana Mosell, David Schaefer, Leo Sitton, Tracy Vasquez and Sharon Zamora.

For more information or a complete race weekend schedule of events, visit OCmarathon.com.

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