Awards Make Michael Run

All his life Michael Lalum, 45, wanted to be a winner.

Which is why he runs. And runs.

Every weekend for the past 10 years, Lalum has run in some type of race, sometimes four a weekend.

Now Lalum, assistant manager of a Newport Beach pharmacy, is running in night races during the week in El Monte.

Most of them are 5k and 10k races that he says are good training for marathons--he has run in 27 of those. Although he hasn't won a marathon outright, he has finished first in his division a number of times.

"I do it because I'm awards-oriented," Lalum explained.

The trophies he has garnered over the years fill a complete room in his Orange home.

His own records show that he has won 500 awards in the 610 races he has entered since 1979. He claims 60 first-place finishes in his age group.

Lalum has a pending record before the Athletic Congress, the group that keeps records for the Olympic Games and for colleges and high schools. It would be a new record for the number of trophies won in a 40-month period.

Since his early school days in Leeds, N.D., "I was driven to win,' said Lalum, an admitted precocious child who was thought to be a child prodigy on the trumpet. "I started winning in play events in grammar school. I liked to win."

Lalum said he had a relatively average life until 1979, when he went looking for a way to reduce stress in his business life and to raise his self-esteem.

"I started running and won a 10k in my age group and that winning formula came back," he said. "It was great for me and I got hooked on running."

Lalum said winning became an obsession again.

"I got flyers and information on races all over Southern California and carefully selected the races I thought I could win," he said. "I know there are people who don't think kindly of that method."

Besides winning, Lalum feels that running offers other rewards, such as a fit body, "and when you go out with a heavy mind, it will disappear. When I race, I start noticing things around me. It's like smelling the roses again."

"It must beat alcohol and drugs and all that other stuff," added Lalum, a nondrinker.

But Lalum is noticing that his race times are getting slower. "I have to tune into my body more now that I getting older," he said.

In fact, Lalum is thinking of changing his running ways.

"My wife (Marianne) isn't a runner, but she supports what I do and comes to all my races," he said. "She's my best friend, sort of acts as my coach."

In the near future, he said, the focus will shift to things that he and his wife of 12 years can do together. But Lalum said he also might go back to playing the trumpet, one of the reasons he began running.

"I figured if I couldn't play lead trumpet on the 'Tonight Show,' I had to do something else that I was good at," he said.

Acknowledgments--Jon Jackson, a 17-year Orange County Transit District driver, will compete in the Oct. 3 American Public Transit Assn.'s National Bus Roadeo in Houston after defeating 17 other finalists in the Orange County Bus Roadeo. The Irvine resident will be up against 250 drivers in the nationwide event. It was the first time he had entered the annual bus roadeo in Orange County.

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