Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Wild Mountain Runner Newsletter - Vol. 2 No. 2 August 2005

Gilbert Varela, Editor Freddy Perez, Founder

Gato Ruben "Cremitas" Arteaga Dies

The WMR club has lost a very dear friend and runner. Ruben "Cremitas" Arteaga passed away August 4, 2005 at the age of 60. Ruben, was nicknamed "Cremitas" because he used to cover his body with a variety of creams before running. He enjoyed the social atmosphere the club offers and became a very active club member. Ruben was known for his good nature and generosity. Many times, without being asked, he would donate running gear and uniforms to the club. The club will miss him very much.

Funeral services will take place August 10th at 4-8pm at the Ingold Funeral Home, 8277 Junipero Avenue, Fontana, California 92335. _____________________________________
Seven Wild Mountain Runners Run at the San Francisco Marathon and Half Marathon:
By: Gilbert Varela

Congratulations to the following runners who ran this year at the San Francisco Marathon and Half Marathon. Abel Ibarra, Patty Kuhn and Berith Velasquez represented SF WMR chapter and Chis Quesada, Gina Messisco, Rosa Arevalo and Gilbert Varela represented GR WMR.
Abel at 51 years of age, finished the marathon in 3:16:13. (See his profile below). Patti Kuhn, running in the 45-49 age category, finished with an excellent time of 4:26. After running a total of 12 marathons, Patti loved the San Francisco Marathon. "I love this beautiful city. It is a little hard because of the hills but it is a wonderful city", said Patti. Berith, at 50 years of age finished 175 in the overall women field and placed 6th out of 125 in her age category. Great job Berith!!

Gilbert Varela at age 56, finished with a time of 4:25. Running in the half marathon, Chris Quesada glided through the Golden Gate Bridge and finished with a time of 1:34. "It's a very tough course, especially mile 4 to 5 and after the Golden Gate bridge (about mile 9)". said Chris. Click photo to enlarge. Chris finishes 27th place out of 645 - Age Division. Rosa Arevalo, who wants to eventually qualify for the Boston Marathon, finished with a time of 1:56 in the marathon. "I just need to train harder", said Rosa. And running for the first time in an organized run, Gina finished with a time of 2:16. This lady has a lot of potential!!

Special Thanks to -
Ramon *Frisco Kid* & Anne Quesada for the hospitality--we had a really great time. Your place is very lovely.

Running at Griffith Park
By: Gilbert Varela

As a 14 year old cross country runner, I first set foot at Griffith Park in the fall of 1963. Our coach Bro. Tom Keegan believed that you could not develop into a competitive runner unless you trained in the park hills. Bro. Tom’s modus operandi entailed planning a "secret" workout, refusing to tell us what the run was until we were warmed up and ready to go.
As the team stretched, we couldn’t help but scan the brush covered hills that I am now so familiar with. Like the rest of my teammates, I was apprehensive if not scared of what to expect. What if we got lost? We had no map and we were told that Griffith Park was the largest city park in the country. As inner-city kids, most of us had not experienced being surrounded by all the thick bush and trees. Are there wild animals out there? Bro. Tom laughed and told us not to worry. He then sat down and gave us detailed instructions on running a trail that had yet to be named Dante’s.
Forty two years have passed and the park remains as pristine and challenging as it did for those who ran in 1963. Little has been done to change the park character. A few buildings like the Autry Museum have taken a little of its character but fortunately, those buildings are at the park’s parameters. There are of course many wild animals, including rabbits, deer, hawks, domestic and migratory birds, rattlers and an occasional mountain lion sighting.
In the course of time, the Wild Mountain Runners have christen many of the running trails according to its degree of toughness and character. Dante’s is out and back 6 mile trail run. To the Spanish speaking runners, the trail is also known as Las Pipas (The Pipes) because water pipes protrude from the ground at the crest of the hill. Although this run is short by WMR standards, it is steep and at times slippery. The reward comes at the top where you will find an oasis – shady trees, water and a picnic area to rest.
Then there is the Snake run, a 9 mile course that starts on dirt and after four miles begins (at Travel Town) to rise and meander through three miles of non-traffic asphalt road. The last two miles are a combination of downhill and flat. Snake provides a great work out for those who intend to develop their hill running skills. As a 14 year old, I ran part of Snake and ended up getting lost for two hours.
Gatos who are training for a half marathon or longer distances, include the Hollywood Sign run in their training schedule. This is an out and back 11 mile course that takes one through dirt trails such as La Lengua de Vaca (Cow’s tongue). Jaime Ortiz, a Gato from South Gate, began calling it Lengua de Vaca because that part of the run is sure to make your tongue hang out like a cow! La Legua is a winding dirt road that merges into a steep asphalt road. This road quickly ascends and is likely to give even the best hill runner a hard time. The road takes you above and behind the Hollywood Sign. Once there, runners will be treated to a great panoramic view of Los Angeles, the ocean and Catalina Island.
In my opinion, by far the most popular of all the trail runs is the Tetrick Trail. This trial was names posthumously after a Mr. Tetrick who diligently walked and jogged the trail for many years. Tetrick is a circular 8 mile dirt trail that constantly meanders through the foothills. There are quick and short hill that challenge the runners at every turn. The course was made popular by the G-pack running club who for many years sponsored the Tetrick Run. Runners enjoyed the bohemian theme which the run was known for. The race was started not by a gun but by a bow and arrow. By mile one male runners could feast their eyes on a totally nude female. A couple of miles later the ladies were treated as well to a nude male. Unfortunately, the park rangers got wind of what was going on and banned the event.
Recently, Roberto "Kadafi" Perez ran Tetrick 30 plus consecutive days with the intention of having WMR christen the trial Kadafi Trail. This was a magnificent feat and all WMR should recognize it as so. (See Chris Quesada’s article Roberto "Kadafi" Perez" Earns his Trail)
Personally, I enjoy running the park because the park is so rich with history that I feel that I am running within an organic museum. Few recognize that before Spain, Mexico and the United States governed California, Griffith Park was home to indigenous groups and the home for many wild creatures. A ceramic exhibition of these early park inhabitants is located at the Ranger Station located at Crystal Springs.
During Spanish rule, the park was part of a 8000 acre land grant called Rancho Los Feliz. After 1821 the Mexican government granted Rancho Los Feliz to Dona Verdugo (Verdugo Blvd. is named after her). Dona Verdugo subsequently parceled out much of the land and eventually most of the land was sold to Antonio Coronel, a distinguished and influential Californio. By 1882, Colonel Griffith J. Griffith purchased the 4,107 acre land. In 1896 Colonel Griffith bequeathed the land to the City of Los Angeles with the provision that the land be used as a park. However, the city has not been true to its commitment considering that it used a portion of the park as a dump. Part of the reason that the city was able to do this was citizen ignorance and apathy. WMR members should be involved in questioning and demanding that the city abide by the wishes of Colonel Griffith.
Wild Mountain runners are unanimous in their opinion that the park is one of the best places to run anywhere in Los Angeles. Gatos enjoy the feeling of running in the wild while at the same time experiencing a tough work out. Anyone interested in running the many running trails should join the Gatos every Sunday between 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Run distances range from 5 miles to 20 miles, depending on your conditioning. See you there!!

SAVE GRIFFITH PARK: No More Development

The following is taken from a website dedicated to saving Griffith Park from further development.

Did you know that despite overwhelming negative community input, the current Griffith Park Plan, now in draft form, proposes the intensive development and commercialization of Griffith Park? Suggested "improvements" include:

- Six multi-level parking structures.
- Two aerial tramways.
- Street widening throughout the Park.
- Introduction of traffic in the interior of the park.
- Division of the Park into separate themed "lands."
- Creation of a hotel, restaurant, culinary school and sports complex in the park’s interior.
- Redesign of the 18-hole golf course at the expense of the Zoo Magnet School.
- A commercial pier on the Los Angeles river at the Los Feliz Bridge.
- Additional public-private partnerships and revenue-enhancing schemes.

What can you do to halt these destructive proposals?

1. Visit and read the Master Plan draft; download and return the response form with your comments.

2. Call, write4 or email Mayor Villaraigoza ( ) and your Los Angeles City councilperson ( ) or call and tell them what you think about the Master Plan. Please copy your mail to Sign and mail the attached Griffith Park Urban Wilderness Petition for Griffith Park Master Plan, Los Angeles Dept. Of Recreation and Parks, 399 Chevy Chase Dr., Los Angeles, California 90039

The Master Plan draft is available on-line at

Upcoming meeting:
Griffith Park Master Plan Community Advisory Panel
Monday, Sept. 12, 2005, 6:30 p.m.
4730 Crystal Springs Drive
Los Angeles, California 90027

Gato Profile: Abel Ibarra discovered running as the key to his health.
By: Gilbert Varela

Fifty-one year old Abel Ibarra remembers how he struggled to breath as he choked during one of his many asthma attacks. Many nights he could not sleep as he struggled to breath normally. He had sought medical help but it was not until he discovered running that the cure happened. "I thought that maybe running would clear up my respiratory system. So I started to run and within six months I felt the difference" said Abel.
Abel starting running in 1982 and has not stopped since. He knows that if he stops the asthma will begin to creep into his life. Although at first Abel only ran to help his asthma, running has become part of this life. He proudly sees himself as a loyal and capable WMR runner.
He started slowly but by 1984 he found himself running longer and faster. He then discovered competitive running and started to register for many of the local 10k runs. He realized that he had competitive running potential when he ran a 38 minute 10k at one of his first races.
He credits much of his love for running to the Gatos. "In 1984 I used to run at Hansen Dam and met three Wild Mountain Runners, Freddy Perez, Pedro Ponce and Ramon "Apache" Cuevas. I soon joined the club", said Abel. Abel has remained a loyal and dedicated member of the San Fernando Wild Mountain Runner chapter. Abel can always be counted to be there when the club needs him.
With long strides and pendulum swinging arms, Abel is known for a gutsy and unrelenting running style that challenges anyone close to him. Even his voice sounds firm and proud when he talks about his best marathon time of 2:48 at the 1987 Long Beach Marathon. His best 5k was timed at 16:40 at the famous Aztlan Run in East Los Angeles.
Abel said that his favorite race is the Los Angeles Marathon.
At 51 years of age, Abel continues to focus on his running realizing that training is the key to great running times. Training once again paid off at the July 31, 2005 San Francisco Marathon. Abel finished with a fantastic time of 3:16:13, placing 153rd out of 3123 runners. He placed 7th out of 280 males in his age division. Congratulations Abel!
Married and the father of two young children, Abel came to the United States in 1975 by himself. Abel states that he left from Michoacan, Mexico seeking a better life. In the process he discovered that running made him healthy. "I love running and if you can call it a vice, it is a great vice" exclaimed Abel.
GATO PROFILE - Ray Prizgintas
By: Gilbert Varela

It would take volumes to cover all that is Ray Prizgintas. One of our senior members, Ray is a mixture of ageless wisdom and physical strength. Ray has done it all. Born in Lithuania, he was forced to flee the Nazis at the height of World War II. Under President Harry Truman’s Displaced Person Program, he arrived with his parents in 1949, not speaking a word of English. With hard work and a kin mind he earned a degree in physics. He now works for the Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena.
A true lover of the long run, Ray has ran over 160 marathons! This feat has earned him membership in two exclusive running clubs, the 50 States & D.C. Club and the 100 Marathon Club (not to mention WMR). His running has taken him to every state of the Union, to London, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Canada and to the very famous Rotterdam Marathon. His favorite marathon is Boston, which he has ran 5 times. His best marathon time was 2:47:11 in 1981 and ran his fastest 10k in 35:30 in 1985.
One would think that after so many marathons, he would consider them all the same. "As I look back, I can visualize the course; not every mile but I can visualize the scenery and the people." he said. He considers the Pittsburgh Marathon as the worst marathon experience. It started at 10:30 a.m. and by then the temperature was 85 degrees. He managed to finish. He considers the Fiesta Marathon in Phoenix, Arizona as his best marathon experience.
As a member of the Sheriff’s Mountain Rescue Team and to keep fit, he began to run at age 40. In 1981he joined the G-Pack runners of Griffith Park. Ray’s advice is "Enjoy running and don’t push.". He loves the social aspects of running and that is why in 1988 he joined the Wild Mountain Runners. Since then, Ray has been one of our most faithful members. For those of you who know Ray, you can appreciate his great humor, running advice and gusto. After a long run, there is nothing that he enjoys more than a cold (sometime room temperature) beer and a lot of laughs with his WMR friends.

(The following article was printed September 1990 )

Home Run 5/10k, Elysian Park, September 9, 1990
By German Alonzo (El Coach)

The hilly course and heat didn’t intimidate the Wild Mountain Runner pack as they placed four runners in the first ten places of the 10k race. Leading the pack was Bell Gardens resident Joel Sanchez. Joel finished fourth overall with a time of 34:12. Wearing the Gato singlet for the first time was Enrique Castro. Enrique, a former professional fighter turned runner, finished fifth overall ten seconds behind Joel. Jaime Ortiz, recovering from the Santa Monica Marathon, finished behind Joel with an excellent time of 35:12. Not far behind Jaime was Salvador "Chava" Arellano finishing with a time of 35:52.
Other Gatos who finished were Pedro "Navajas", Gilbert Varela, Roberto Rivas, Mario Molina, Enrique Castaneda and Javier "Sahuayo".
In the 5k the Gatos were without the services of Alfredo Vallejo, Benito Cruz or Roberto "El Chino" but Jose "Pepe El Brochero" Gomez saved the day as he finished a strong 14th overall with a time of 16:45. He was followed by yours truly with a time of 17:34 and placed 23rd overall. Then came Ignacio Fonseca (17:43, 25th), Steve "Llaves" Keyes (17:47, 26th), Ernesto "Mostachon" Davila (19:15, 40th) and last but not least, Francisco Licea with a time of 20:30.

Profile of Gilbert Varela
By: Chris Quesada

Running has become a part of Gilbert’s life. When I asked Gilbert what running means to him, his response was "Running is a combination of fun, friendship and spiritual release. As silly as it may seem, running is my religion. My religion has no altars, sermons or gothic buildings. Running helps me to introspect and think. I have felt intellectual catharsis several times and almost always I am able to find emotional and spiritual relief through running"
Born in Tijuana, Baja California, Gilbert is now 56 years young. Gilbert was only seven years old when he and his brother Ruben (who was about eleven) were inspired to run by his father who was an avid runner in Mexico during the 1920s and 30s. When Gilbert was a kid, his father would take him and his brother by the railroad tracks and run short distances. They ran after his father but could never quite catch him. His father’s passion for running has shaped Gilberts life and taught him lessons. He told him and his brother stories about his (father) childhood when they were poor. He can still recall one story his father’s told about him growing up. "My father would spot a jackrabbit and begin to run after it. The rabbit would run in spurts and he just continued to run after it. It would go on for a long time until the rabbit could no longer run and hide. He would then grab it and take it home for food". These stories, have been a great inspiration.
Gilbert came to the United States in 1958. In 1963, when he enrolled at Salesian High School located in Boyle heights, he already had the love for running. He joined the school cross-country and the track team. He ran three years cross country and four years track. He ran the mile and two mile, so decisive that he had earned the nickname "2-Mile Varela". Salesian inspired him to be competitive even when he felt nervous and stressed. "A coach named Brother Tom Keegan knew how to maximize a runner’s potential and he taught us how to run with pain". Coach Keegan was a tough old running coach who had his students run 4 mile warm ups and then have them do 20-22 – 440 track repeats. It is no wonder Gilbert is so talented in running.
Like many runners, Gilbert was burnt-out with running for a few years. Concentrating in school, he earned his B.A. in sociology in1972 and received his Juris Doctorate in 1978 and began to practice law. As a father, Gilbert has instilled hard work and dedication to his kids "After work, I would play with my kids, watch the news, drink one or two beers, read, go to sleep and work". Gilbert would have never been able to accomplish any of these achievements without hard work and dedication. He has ruminated ideas and thoughts on a run "I have thought out and resolved professional issues and problems that have come up in my law business during long runs" He has applied running in his life.
In 1978, Gilbert heard CBS was sponsoring a 5k and 10k run, he was naturally inspired to run again. With very little training, he ran the 10k in 39 minutes (average of 6:20 mile pace) earning a second place in his age category. This motivated him to run again. Gilbert started to race 10k runs just about every weekend. Gilbert ran the 1986, ‘87, ‘88 and ‘90 L.A. Marathons. His goal was to break 3 hours. Never running better than a 3:10, he ran the 1990 Long Beach Marathon with this intent. "Hitting the wall" at mile 24, he ran his last two miles at a 10 minute pace. "I didn’t care anymore whether I finished or not, I just wanted to stop. Then I saw the large clock by the finish line. It was 2:59:36. All the Gatos were there yelling at me to break 3 hours. I got a surge of energy and sprinted in, finishing with a time of 2:59:59!!" Gilbert remembers this as his most memorable moments.
He did most of his work outs in the track until his introduction to the Wild Mountain Runners in 1984. "I saw some runners dressed in red and white with the Wild Mountain Runner logos. I introduced myself to them and they invited me to run the Hollywood Sign the following day." It was the most excruciating running experience he ever had.
His favorite races include the challenging Lake Isabella- a 38 mile relay were he ran the 12 miler leg; the Long Beach half marathon; the Run Across L.A., a 10 miler that began in Century City, went through parts of the Wilshire District and finished in central L.A. There he set a personal record of 1:02. He once took 2nd place in his age division in the Stuntman’s 5/10 K. He ran his best 5k at Costa Mesa back in 1989 with a finishing time of 16:36 (By the way, money are being offered for that kind of time nowadays) His best 10K was at Westwood Memorial 5/10 k finishing time 34:54. Best marathon at Long Beach with a finishing time of 2:59:59 and best half marathon at the Boulevard Run with a 1:17:39. He distinctly remembers this half because it was raining and very windy. "I can’t forget that race because it was raining…it was windy and there was Roberto "Kadafi" Perez right on my ass all the way…we battled to the finish. I think that was my favorite race ever".
My final question to Gilbert was, do you think you will run forever? "I do believe that I will always run. I see myself when I see old men and women struggling to complete a run. It is part of my nature and it keeps me moving forward. The only thing that can keep me from running will be the inability to move my legs. Hopefully this will never happen".
Gilbert has been the club liaison who has been designated as the primary contact person between the WMR’s. The role played by Gilbert is to foster communication between SF, GP HD, and other WMR chapter. He is one of the dedicated senior members who represent the Wild Mountain Runners effectively.
Gilbert has been married with Lucia for 30 years and is the father of four adult children and has two grand children. He hopes that his two grand kids, now 2 and 4 years old, will follow in his and his children’s footsteps and become runners.


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