For the most part, running is a spiritual outlet for Thor Ericson and his family, but it goes even deeper than that.
He sees it as a way of preserving family togetherness, sort of like “the family that runs together, stays together.”
“There is a lot of deterioration going on in family life and one of the ways to relieve the pressure is to do something with the children,” he said. “I see running as one of the ways.”
Ericson, a Whittier junior high school art teacher and pastor of La Habra Community Bible Church, has a simple explanation. “We run together because we want to be together, and we like to have it witnessed by the Lord.”
And the father has a quaint way of explaining another reason for the family sport. “My wife enjoys it, and it helps keep her trim, and she likes that. And I like that.”
The 6 of them--Thor, 46, Janice, 46, Noel, 18, Shawn, 15, Megan, 12, and Wyn, 9--just ran in Sunday’s Los Angeles Marathon and all finished the race despite the heat that caused so much discomfort for them.
“We ran together for a while and talked about the marathon and other races we ran in and what we learned from them,” said the father, who finished the race with two of his sons by his side while his wife and daughter completed the race together.
“Shawn was just too much for us and completed the race far ahead of us all,” he said. But he noted that the family had dinner together where they relived the outing.
Shawn, only a freshman at a Whittier high school, has already lettered in varsity track.
“Mostly, we talked about all the help everyone gave us with water and food during the race and that’s what helped us the most,” he said.
Thor Ericson has long found running an ideal time to think. “You can get in a lot of creative thinking while you’re out there keeping your body in shape,” he said. “After you get over the pain that running sometimes causes when you first start, a person can learn to enjoy some deep thinking.”
But running is just another aspect of family cohesion, the father said. “It’s nice to do something with the entire family, especially in a sport where we can all be together. It builds a lot of family character.”
It didn’t take much to entice the children into running. “Kids just love to get rewards,” he said. “We’re living in a rewards-system society, and the thought of winning a trophy is fantastic for them.”
Everyone is the family has won trophies. So many, in fact, that they had to build a special trophy closet.
And at Thanksgiving time, the entire family has a different role. They help out in Janice Thor’s pumpkin patch business in La Habra. An art teacher, she offers classes on how to paint faces on pumpkins.
“I guess if we didn’t decide to be a family that runs together,” said Thor Ericson, “it would be something else. Maybe we would be painting together.”
Ice sculptor Mark Daukas of Newport Beach is on a cold roll, so to speak. He has won just about every ice-sculpting contest he has entered, including the U.S. Championship, and he just added the International Ice Carving Team Championship in Japan to his credits.
“This is the biggest honor of all,” said Daukas, who teamed with Steve Rose of Boston. “We really didn’t get any money for winning. It was mostly an honor. In fact, I lost a lot of out-of-pocket money paying the expenses. . . .”
The two took 48 hours to carve the winning fantasy art piece called “Hard Climb,” featuring a voluptuous woman, a saber-toothed tiger and a muscular man with a sword.
Peggy Gene Evans, a former ballerina who now performs as a tap dancer, had a dilemma. Everyone wanted to have a party for her 95th birthday on March 25.
“Several of the girls wanted to give me a party and if I chose one, I was in trouble with the others, so I decided to throw a party for myself,” said Evans, of Newport Beach, who still takes tap-dancing classes and performs with a group called the Happy Hoofers.
And what a party it is going to be at the Newport Beach Tennis Club. She already has an invitation list of 112, including boyfriends and husbands who no doubt will be treated to a little tap-dancing performance by “the girls,” as she calls them. “I can call them that because most of them are 30 years younger than me.”
But this party is just the beginning. “I’m going to start saving my money so I can throw myself a party for my 100th birthday,” she vowed.