Culver City, My Home Course

Forty-five years later, it’s amazing that I ever found the film, much less the ability to develop it, from the 1974 Western Hemisphere Marathon in Culver City, CA, the site of my first world record marathon.

This race culminated a rewarding Fall season of racing home and abroad.  In September, I took my first trip to Europe to run in the first Women’s International Marathon Championships in Waldniel, West Germany (yes, when there was a West and East Germany).   It was my third marathon, a new PR (personal record), finishing my first time under 3 hours, running 2:56 and coming in the first American, fifth place overall.  That’s a lot of “firsts” and I was extremely pleased.

The whole trip was as if we choreographed it to perfection, but that’s another story and a different chapter in my book.   The point is that I had an excellent preceding marathon, and I even found a 15-kilometer race in Florence, Italy which I won in a world-best time of 52:15.

Results: Marathon (Waldniel, WG) & 15K (Florence, IT)
Results: Marathon (Waldniel, WG) & 15K (Florence, IT)

This set the scene when I returned to California as written in chapter nine. . . . Excerpt from A Long Time Coming,

Back in Los Angeles,  I resumed training with Laszlo Tabori in mid-October, on a schedule designed for the December marathon in Culver City but including cross- country races. My mileage rose from 70 to 90 miles per week, then topped out at 110 miles before the marathon week.

This preparation included many races. Perhaps the most indicative of my marathon fitness was the Long Beach Prep 16.2-mile race. As the title indicates, this was a benchmark race for the Western Hemisphere Marathon. I ran 1:38:58 – a 6: 06-mile pace.

I also ran the district cross-country championships in 18:41 for 3.5 miles and the AAU state meet in San Diego, 17:28 for 5000 meters in fourth place. My last race before the marathon, two weeks later, was a 10 -mile course, in which I broke a six-minute pace.

As I had for the Waldniel marathon, I again put myself on the carbo-load diet, depleting carbohydrates the first part of the week and increasing protein consumption, followed by a transition day and then increasing carbohydrates in the latter part of the week leading up to the race. This was supposed to enable my body to maximize storage of carbohydrates as a source of energy to fuel the long race. I was pleased that this time I did not become nauseous like before.

On Western Hemisphere race day in Culver City, December 1974, as I warmed up with our friend Bruce Dern, we talked about how others were projecting records for me and my nervous anticipation. He told me he loved his ability to pick winners (as the one who sponsored my trip to the international women’s marathon in Germany when I did not “make” the USA team) and that I should not pay any attention to the pressure, just run my own pace, my own race. I calmly went to the starting line, calmly set my pace, calmly shut out the bystanders and crossed the finish line in a new world record of 2:43:55. Thank you, Bruce!

Bruce Dern

WHM 1974, Laszlo, JQ,Miki

In retrospect, although I was really pleased with the time and especially the record, the race was not necessarily a life-changing event. I logged the finish time into my journal as “N.W.R. (new world record) at Culver City marathon.” We had a team party a week later, where my racing shoes were placed in the Helms Athletic Foundation museum in Culver City by founder Bill Schroeder, and the adidas rep, John Bragg, presented me with new ones.

My training resumed without pause. I went running the next day with Monty Montgomery and the guys around Balboa Park, then did a regular Laszlo workout the following night. I was already back into middle- distance training for the indoor season.”

Helms Hall of Fame 1974





Here is the long lost and found reel of film from the race day in Culver City December 1974.  I find it ironic that the processing service I used to restore this film was also in Culver City, so near the start/finish line that even the technicians recognized it!!  Coincidence?  I think not.  I intend to stop trying to do my own digitizing.  I must have dozens of boxes of photos waiting to be scanned.  I know where to take them now.  Oh, and a special thanks to my friend “Caroline,” who has been prompting me for a few years now to search for any videotape of me running because she was SURE it must exist somewhere. Will wonders never cease?  She is almost as determined as I am.  This is a trait I recognize.

Closing thoughts.
Culver City became my “home course.” The marathon was officially titled Western Hemisphere Marathon (WHM), which we affectionately referred to as the Culver City marathon.  It was my first-ever road race/marathon.  It was the scene of my first-ever marathon World Record.  On the monument which remains at the start/finish line at Overland Ave. & Culver Blvd., the winners’ names are inscribed and I have three titles.  I ran it more times than I can remember, whether in training or pacing a friend for their first race.  Long ago, the marathon faded away, but the monument remains.  Here is Cheryl (Bridges) Treworgy, the first WR on that course and my inspiration to ever run the marathon.  Her record in 1971 was as the first woman to ever break 2:50.  Later, when I claimed my second WR, I became the first woman to break 2:40 (altho’ on a different course).  Still, I have my teammate and lifelong dear friend, Cheryl to thank for inspiration.

Correction:  confirming my  statistics with the Association of Road Race Statisticians, in particular Andy Milroy,

it turns our that my 52:15 time for 15K was never verified for record purposes but he is double-checking for me as I write.  What I did discover, was that the official world best mark was 56:04 at the time, and (surprise) it was also mine, earlier in the same year.