Saturday, January 01, 2005

Gato Profile: Roberto "Kadafi" Perez

Gato Profile: Roberto "Kadafi" Perez
by: Gilbert Varela


Roberto Perez trains like he competes and competes like he trains. Those who join his Sunday training runs know that they are in for a serious workout. Those who challenge him in any race know that they will have endured a lot of pain keeping up. To beat Roberto, you will have to spill your guts as the great Steve Prefontaine would say when challenged by competitors. Challenging himself and others has been Roberto's trademark.

Roberto was born in Mexicali, Mexico, the youngest of five children. His love for competition began at an early age. At age 8 his baseball team, Los Piratas, won the Baja California state championship. At age 13, he immigrated with his family to the United States. Roberto later attended Belmont High School where he competed in soccer. At the Los Angeles City Soccer Championships he became a school hero when he scored three goals against Garfield High School capturing the championship. His interest in running began when he saw Belmont's cross-country team compete. Upon seen the competition Roberto said "I knew I could beat them" and soon joined Bob Macias (WMR member) who also ran for Belmont.

After graduating from Belmont, Roberto was drafted into the arm forces where he was honored as a distinguished airborne school graduate. He became a member of the 82nd Airborne Division and was sent to Vietnam soon after the massive 1968 Tet Offensive. No sooner was he in Vietnam when 5 of his 12 man killer team were lost in an ambush. He was soon chosen to be part of a 5 men recognizance team. It was in this capacity that he experienced more action against the Viet Cong. After serving honorably, he was discharged, enrolled at LACC where he studied police science and joined the MECHA Teatro Campesino. Roberto has two adult daughters and one adult son. He is a loving grandfather to Charisma, his only granddaughter. He is married to a wonderful lady named Estela. Roberto owns and operates Runner Freight, a truck delivery business.

Roberto joined the Gatos in 1984 when Freddie Perez met him at Griffith Park and asked him to join his then fledgling team. Since then he has remained a loyal and committed member. As a Gato, Roberto has run 32 marathons, including the Los Angeles Marathon, which is his favorite. He ran his best marathon time at the first LA marathon in 2:50. His fasted ½ marathon was at the grueling San Pedro in 1:17:48. His best 5k was 17:03 and his fastest 10k was 35:06. However, he is quick to say that his favorite run will always be Lake Isabella. At Isabella, Roberto competed in the 38 mile ultra and as a member of a relay team.

Roberto loves to train. His favorite training run is los columpios, a short but intensive farklet style run that uses part of the Tetrick trail. Those who want to get ready for a tough run should try it. (If you dare!). But be careful--Roberto hates "People that cut the course while training."

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