Thirty-three and counting.
Sylmar resident Jim Davis, 77, maintained his stature as a Legacy Runner, the select group of men and women who have taken part in and completed all 33 Los Angeles Marathons to date, as he crossed the finish line on Sunday, March 18.
He also shaved 22 minutes from last year’s time finishing in 7 hours and 19 minutes.
Most importantly, he enjoyed the day without incident. Last year, as he was walking to the car that picks him up after the race, he fainted and hit his head, ending up at the hospital that night and with a nasty gash as a souvenir.
This year he trained a little more, Davis said.
“The last month and a half I was walking every day,” he told the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol, which has been keeping track of his LA Marathons for the past three years.
“I feel great, I’m walking pretty good,” said Davis, who began running after a friend invited him to take up the sport. He’s been running continuously for most of his middle age.
In 1986, Davis entered the inaugural Los Angeles Marathon. Finishing that first competition, he recalled, was surprisingly easy.
He ran the 26.2 mile course in just over four hours without training or experience.
Running became addictive, he said. Davis did it every day, either in the morning or late in the evening, in hot or cold weather. In his more active years, he’d ran in multiple marathons — even the challenging Boston Marathon, which Davis qualified for after completing the Portland Marathon in just over three hours.
He joined long-distance running clubs, taking 31-mile loops through Santa Clarita, Placerita Canyon and other spots in the Valley. At several stretches in his life, Davis was running 70 miles a week.
He has incurred health problems in recent years, but continues taking part in and – most importantly – finishing those 26.2 course miles every year.
To put it another way, Davis has run 864.6 miles worth of LA Marathons. And counting.
“It’s awesome to see the effort that people make to keep their legacy. Some of them are limping and everything,” Davis said of his fellow Legacy Runners, some of whom are now in their 80s.
Davis is approaching his octogenarian years as well. But he doesn’t let that deter him, nor slow him down.
In Sunday’s race, “I felt great, I felt very strong, I didn’t shuffle too much. I was walking for seven hours and I still feel good right now,” he said.
At the end he said he was just shivering, so “I came home and had an electric blanket, and it was on. I spent most of the time in bed.”
That shivering may have been due to the weather. Cloudy skies, 59-degree temperatures and moderate humidity kept conditions cool for the estimated 24,000 Los Angeles Marathon runners who challenged the course that took them from Dodger Stadium to the Santa Monica Pier.
Firefighters treated 72 people for medical problems during the race. Of those, 10 people were hospitalized — four of them with immediate, life-threatening medical issues.
In West Hollywood, an MTA bus on a marathon-caused detour scraped two parked cars on a narrow side street.
But Davis didn’t suffer any setbacks.
“Nothing’s hurting,” he said Monday night as he continued to recuperate.
He will rest for a week, in part due to having had replacement surgery to both knees — the right one in May of last year.
That knee was giving him problems the Friday before the race, when he went to pick up his race package.
“I could hardly walk. I had to go down the stairs backwards,” Davis said. “The same thing happened a couple of weeks ago; I couldn’t walk without a cane. It was painful. But Sunday I woke up and it felt fine. The pain never got worse,” he said
“I kept a good, strong pace and that was exciting.”
And he’s ready to keep the streak going. There are no more knee surgeries on the way, which he hopes will allow him to train longer and maybe have an even faster time.
But whatever happens, the plan is still the same as it has been for the past 33 years.
“I’m ready for next year. I plan to be there,” he said.