Marathon for PAL
Despite LA Marathon Postponement, Santa Monica PAL Will Create Its Own Marathon For Its Youth Running Program
March 25, 2021
By Andrew Cameron, City of SM
3/17 "I felt so accomplished and felt unbeatable," said 17-year-old Audrialice Evans about running her first race. Running has become a passion for her and 7 youths, aged 12-17 who have been training to run the LA Marathon through the Santa Monica Police Activities League (PAL) running program and Students Run LA. Despite their best intentions, COVID-19 has complicated matters yet again.
With the LA Marathon postponed, the weekly PAL running program has decided to create its own marathon for the students in March.
"We will make lemonade from lemons," says Eula Fritz, Director at Santa Monica Police Activities League. "You can see how inspired and dedicated the youth are by training to run a marathon and we can't let them down."
Newcomer Branden Banks, a 12-year-old middle schooler, has made new friends and is doing something he never thought he could do. Regarding a recent 9.5-mile training run, Banks recalls "we were running up Kenter Hill which is very steep and very hard to run up and I felt like giving up. I pushed myself to finish and I did! I felt proud of myself that I kept on going and going and I didn't give up."
Hawene Alomayehu, a 14-year-old high schooler, is the program's fastest runner. She joined the program last year and completed her first marathon in 4 hours and 16 minutes with a pace of 9:46 per mile. With one done, she hopes to complete five marathons by the end of high school. She has become a mentor for other runners.
"I started running because it is a stress reliever for me," said Alomayehu. "All my worries just melt away when I run and it's also refreshing!"
Evans, a high school senior, agrees, "when I have a rough day, I try my best to turn to running. My mind is constantly crammed with overwhelming thoughts and when I run, everything becomes bearable.
"Some of the runners never ran a race or more than two miles at a time," said Fritz. "Through the program, the youth's confidence blossoms as they discover the power of what they can do."
In partnership with the Students Run LA program, PAL youth experience the benefits of goal-setting, character development, adult mentoring and improved health through PAL's running program. It provides them with a truly life-changing experience to train and complete the LA Marathon. Youth begin their training with PAL in September and run each month in community races throughout the LA area in preparation of the big day. To date over 300 PAL youth have run and completed the LA Marathon.
To help support the PAL running program, please visit http://www.smpal.org.
About Santa Monica Police Activities League (PAL)
The Santa Monica PAL is a nonprofit organization operated by the City of Santa Monica dedicated to providing a safe and supervised place for young people ages 6 through 17. PAL teaches skills, promotes self-respect and respect for others, and helps kids reach out to their peers and to adults. PAL provides free academic and cultural programs and a wide variety of recreational activities. Each year hundreds of youth learn to work and play in groups, with individual attention available whenever it is needed. The Santa Monica Police Activities League is located at the PAL Youth Center at 1401 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404. For more information, call 310-458-8988 or visit smpal.org.