Sunday, January 30, 2005

Hansen Dam Training - SF

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Hansen Dam 9 Mile Steady Run - SF

Sunday, January 16, 2005

La Tuna to Brand Library Verdugo Mt. 18 Miler - SF

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Big Tujunga Road Run 20 Miler - SF

Freddie and Barefoot Ted ran 20 miles up Big Tujunga during a thunderstorm!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

GATO PROFILE: Gilbert Varela

GATO PROFILE: Gilbert Varela
By: Chris Quesada

Running has become a part of Gilberts 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 fathers 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 fathers 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 runners 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 didnt 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 Stuntmans 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 cant forget that race because it was raining and 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 WMRs. 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 childrens footsteps and become runners.

GATO PROFILE - Ray Prizgintas

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.

Gato Profile: Abel Ibarra

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.

WMR Member List

Wild Mountain Runner Club
Branches include:

San Fernando (SF)

Hansen Dam (HD) and

Griffith Park (GP)

Huntington Park (HP)

Long Beach (LB)


Freddie Perez, Founder WMR
home 818-367-5462

Mike Meza
818-365-3977 (new number)

Barefoot Ted McDonald
818-332-7944 ext. 4

Guadalupe (Lupe) Alba

Rodolfo Trejo

Edwin Palencia

Dagoberto Perez

Mario Sanchez
323-702-4987 (new)

Hector Soria

Antonio Arevalo

Ruben Gomez

Felipe Melendrez

Adalberto "Flaco" Mendoza

Aaron Rodriguez

Elio and Israel Perez

Gilbert Varela
(323) 258-5152

Chris Quesada

Ismael Ortega

Bob "He's back" Macias

Herminio Garcia

Francisco "Paco" Licea

Ismael "El Coach" Favela

Julio "JJ" Jamarillo

Felipe "Big Dogg" Reynoso

Carlos Chacon

Raymond Prizgintas

Roberto "Kadafi" Perez

Ernesto "Mostachon" Davila

Diego Nava

"2-mile" Larry Mendoza

Victor " Mountain Goat" Carrillo

Rosa "Legs" Arevalo

Donna "Speedy" Pittman

Magdalena Fernandez

Dave "Guero" Matson

Fernando Mejia

Mario Molina

Benjamin Caro

Jaime Ortiz

Berith Velasquez

Rafael Ramos

Carmen Preciado

Paola "Miautwo" Fernandez

Araceli & Ricky Menjivar

Salvador Ponce

Gregorio Rodriguez

Elias Garcia

Rigoberto Contreras

Jose Luis Loera

Maurilio Amezcua

Carlos Larios

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 ¬Ĺ marathon was at the grueling San Pedro Ĺ 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."

Gato Profile: Araceli Aguilar

Gato Profile: Araceli Aguilar de Menjivar sees patience as the key to running.

By: Gilbert Varela

Throughout the history of the Wild Mountain Runners, few women have joined the club. Yet those few ladies have contributed a great deal. One of these ladies is Araceli Aguilar de Manjivar.

Araceli is no ordinary runner. She has placed 15th overall in the women division in one of her best Los Angeles Marathons with a time of 3:07. She completed the 2001 Las Vegas Marathon with a time of 1:26. For those who have had a chance to compete or train with her, you know what a tough runner she is. You would think that she has been running all her life but this is not the case.

Araceli was born in Puebla, Mexico, the place where a small army of Mexicans defeated a large and well organized French army in 1861. One wonders whether her strength comes from an ancestor who fought in that battle. But Araceli is more down to earth attributing her running abilities to simple patience. She learned patience at a very early age. She tells the story of her grandfather whose philosophy of life was based on patience. "Once he came home after having been robbed of all his money. Yet he was calm and unmoved. He said that he was not in need and that the person who robbed him needed the money! "

Araceli started running by coincidence. At age 19 I moved in with my mother. I would do my work and leave. I felt angry at the whole world. A few of my friends ran and they invited me to run.√ģ Araceli began with short runs around the block She increased her running were she was running up to 15 kilometers at a time. I loved running. I felt like Forrest Gump. Running cleared my mind.

Araceli enrolled at a teaching college and after completing her studies, she taught a short time in Mexico and then came to the United States in 1989 to study English. She enrolled at Los Angeles City College. Once as she was running around the track she was approached by the cross-country coach who, with the help of an interpreter, convinced her to join the cross-country and track team. She became their most valuable female runner. With a time of 19:05 in the 5k, she rarely lost a race.

Araceli joined the Gatos six years ago and has since become one of the clubís most dedicated runners. "I love the friendship, the long runs and the social activities that go with the club" said Araceli. She particularly refers to the Lake Isabella as her favorite run.

A few years ago, Araceli married Gato Ricky Menjivar and hopes to have a family. She also wants to continue teaching autistic children. "It takes a lot of work and patience working with autistic children but I get a great deal of joy watching their improvement" said Araceli.

Araceli wants to repeat her 3:07 marathon time. She realizes that reaching that goal will be difficult, but with patience and hard work, no one can underestimate this Wild Mountain runner lady to repeat this feat.

GATO PROFILE: Freddie Perez

GATO PROFILE: Freddie Perez

Freddie Perez remembers San Fernando when there were more orange groves than cars and his father drove a tractor next to a place that raised thorough bred horses. "I still remember some of the horses' names. There was one called Cholo and another called Sundance. We where surrounded by trees and I would often gather wood for outside cooking." From age two to the age of 9, Freddie's home was a hayloft and a saddle room.

The eldest of three bothers and a sister, Freddie had to bear the most responsibility of meeting the every day chores that come with country living. But Freddie was restless and active. He remembers being tied down to a tree because "I was too travieso". Conflicting with his competitive and energetic spirit, his parents prohibited him in engaging in after school sports. "There was little league and other things but I had to go home" said Freddie. "Sometimes I would lie to my mother that I got in trouble and had to stay after school just to so I could play sports. I would get a whipping but I got to play!" laughed Freddie.

By middle school he was showing his interest in running. He won several ribbons in the 50 and 100 yard dash. A coach once wrote in Freddie's year book "The way you run the bases, I'll be looking for your name in the record books."

High school sports interested him a lot but he was too short for basketball and too small for football. But this didn't mean that he wasn't tough. "I don't know what I said to upsetthis huge football center but he came after me. I beat him up and gave him a black eye. After this the football coach wanted to recruit me" said Freddie. By the 10th grade he decided to joincross country and his interest in running soared. He was not the front runner but he managed to train hard enough to become their fourth man. In 1956 they won the regional cross country championships. Looking back to the 1954, Freddie still remembers watching Roger Bannister break the 4 minute barrier in the mile. This event had a lasting effect on Freddie, inspiring him to continueto improve his running.

After high school Freddie trained only part of the year in anticipation of the San Fernando Mission Run. "Then I started to pick up race applications and started to run more often.But in those days if you ran the streets some people would holler at you and some would try to run you over!" exclaimed Freddie. That is when Freddie decided to run the hills and mountains surrounding San Fernando. "But as much as I ran, I could not break 40 minutes in the 10k. Then I started to do farklet style training and my times improved", said Freddie.

Another event that inspired Freddie was watching Frank Shorter win the 1974 Olympic marathon. "By winning the marathon, Frank Shorter started the running craze and running became more popular in the United States." By 1976 Freddie got together with his compadre Pedro Ponce, his cousin Pepe Perez and Nacho Fonseca. He was soon was running 30 mile runs at Mt. Wilson on Saturdays to train for the Western States 100. He would occasionally run with Jim Pellon who came in 2nd place 5 times. Freddie never ran the 100 mile run but his training made him stronger. He later joined a group of runners who worked for General Motors in Van Nuys. Because Freddie did not work for General Motors, he was denied a uniform. Freddie decided to organize what would become the Wild Mountain Runners.

When asked how he came up with the club name, Freddie recalls running Condor Peak and Little Tujunga trials. As he ran by the Wild Life Way Station, he could hear the roar of the mountain lions. But one day remains prominent in his mind. "As I was running this trail, my foot prints all of a sudden came upon the prints of a mountain lion. Our path met and the lion's prints followed mine until his paw prints disappeared into the brush." His contact with the mountain lion inspired Freddie to come up with the club name.

As the club has grown, so has Freddie's running talents. At 65 year of age, his running abilities seem to improve with age. At the 2005 Santa Clarita Marathon, Freddie ran an amazing 3:26! His best marathon was in 1983 when he ran 2:46:53 at the Bakersfield Marathon. He has run every Los Angeles Marathon and is a member of the prestigious Legacy Runners. His best LA Marathon time is 2:55. Freddie likes to quote a famous runner who said "Running changes a person and a marathon changes your life." How true this is.

Freddie remembers many of his races but his most memorable run was the 1988 Lake Isabella 38.6 ultra marathon which he won in 5:06. The Lake Isabella captures the essence and spirit of Freddie's personality. He challenged a very grueling run with the intent of winning it. Each time he would come up short but he never gave up. He kept trying. He quotes Carlos Lopez of Portugal who won the 1984 Olympic Marathon who said "The more you run, the better you run". Indeed, this is what Freddie is all about. Never give up and keep trying.

Freddie lives in Sylmar, California and is happily married to his lovely wife Arcelia. He has three adult children and hopes to someday have grandchildren who may someday be Wild Mountain Runners. He envisions the Wild Mountain Runner club as a club that can inspire young runners because as Freddie likes to say "Running changes your life".


Wild Mountain Runner Club Workouts:

Griffith Park

Night runs ‚??

Monday thru Thursday
Location: Griffith Park ‚?? 2nd parking lot (Miniature trains)Time: 5:45 pm - 6:00pm
Easy to Moderate 5 -8 miles on trails or roads -

Weekend runs ‚??

Saturdays and Sundays -
Location: Griffith Park ‚?? 2nd parking lot (Miniature trains)
Moderate Hills and trails- 8- 15 miles (Hollywood sign, 5 points, Greek theater, etc.)

Morning runs -

No set schedule (depending who shows up)
Location: Griffith Park ‚?? 2nd parking lot (Miniature trains) Time: 4:45 am
Hills, trails, flats 6-8 miles

(Note: Locations and runners may vary due to weather conditions, race events, party the night before, etc...)

San Fernando

Sunday June 5, 2005