A Run for Fun

TIMES STAFF WRITER

With names like Do Not Resuscitate, Fat Boy Five and Run-A-Muck, it was clear that winning wasn't the main thing on the minds of many of the teams competing in the 16th annual Jimmy Stewart Relay Marathon in Griffith Park.

"Most of us are just here to have fun," said Diane Marshall, an accountant for Universal Studios, running on the team Unaccountables. "It's great to come together and to support a good cause."

The cause that several thousand runners came to support Sunday was the annual benefit for the Child and Family Development Center of St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica. In 16 years, the relay marathon has raised some $4 million from individual and corporate sponsors.

At the starting line, actor and event co-host Robert Wagner said the race has raised money to help the center continue giving "hope and healing to children with special emotional and developmental needs."

"When Jimmy Stewart created this event, I don't think he ever imagined how great it would become," Wagner said. Stewart did not attend but was listed as co-host.

The relay featured more than 650 teams, each consisting of five runners competing over the 26-mile course. Altogether, the competition drew more than 3,200 adult contestants and several hundred children who ran in separate races.

First to cross the finish line was the Cacique team, a male relay squad representing a cheese manufacturer. Its members set a time of two hours, 22 minutes and six seconds. The Los Feliz Fillies were the winning female team, completing the course in two hours and 40 minutes. In the celebrity category, "Entertainment Tonight's" runners placed first.

Though some runners were serious about racing against the clock, others were not as concerned about the outcome.

"We will probably come in dead last," said Vidal Herrera, chief executive of Autopsy/Post Service Inc., who managed a running team called The Stiffs. His five relay runners passed a fake bone instead of a baton as they ran the course.

On the sidelines, Joyce Lartigue was busy instructing and videotaping her 10-year-old daughter Jocelin, who ran in a half-mile race for children. "Her father is the runner, but he is not running here today," Lartigue said. "This day is dedicated to Jocelin."

Nearby, the Feeble Five team, whose members' ages totaled 361 years, completed the marathon course in grand style.

After Legrand Nielsen, 89, passed his baton, a course official was overheard saying: "Thank God he made it, we were worried."

But the tiring course didn't seem to bother Nielsen, who has competed in the marathon for 10 years. "I ran it in one hour and 13 minutes," he said. "Not bad! It's good for me."

His partner, Nyla Cook, 75, said she too enjoyed the run, but she preferred the free after-race snacks. "I'm a chow hog," she said.

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