DOWNTOWN — This year’s L.A. Marathon represents something old and something new for runner Julia Mallon.
She is considered one of the 14 elite female runners in this year’s race, but for her, the running part is old hat. A recent transplant to Santa Monica, Mallon said that she’s using this race to accomplish two goals: qualifying for the U.S. Olympic marathon trials and learning her new town.
“This was a last-minute decision,” Mallon said of joining the field. “It’s in my backyard. I like to go out for races in the communities I reside in.
“There is something about running a marathon on streets you’re familiar with.”
In the short month that she’s lived in Santa Monica, Mallon has found the city by the sea to be a place where she can put roots down and raise a young family that includes husband Jon and daughter Ashlin Rose.
In fact, this year’s marathon will be a family affair.
Jon Mallon will be competing along side his wife, which makes for an interesting in-family rivalry, one that Julia Mallon isn’t afraid to say is dominated by her.
“I always beat him by 10 minutes,” she said. “We’re keeping track and I’m winning.”
Helping her maintain her dominance over her significant other is daughter Ashlin Rose, who is a common running companion. The two head out onto Santa Monica’s city streets; mom in jogging shoes, 14-month-old Ashlin Rose comfortably nestled in her baby jogger.
“The baby jogger has been my friend,” Julia Mallon said with a giggle. “I take her along with me. I have somebody who helps me out.”
If all goes well, Julia Mallon hopes to finish in 2 hours, 45 minutes, which would qualify her for the Olympic trials later this year. Her personal best is 2:46:17, which she accomplished at the 2004 U.S. Olympic trials.
While this will be her first L.A. Marathon, it isn’t the first she’s run since the birth of her daughter in early 2009. Just three months after giving birth she was back competing in marathons. She raced in another three months later, clocking a time near 3 hours.
“I did OK,” she said of those races. “It wasn’t great, but I jumped into those to have a good time, not win.”
Aside from the serious business of trying to set a personal best and qualify for the Olympic trials, Julia Mallon said she’s excited by this year’s revamped route.
Dubbed, “Stadium to the Sea,” the route wends its way from the starting line at Dodger Stadium through Downtown L.A., Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and the VA Greater Los Angeles before ending on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica.
Marathon organizers created the new route to show off some of the region’s landmarks.
“We’ve elevated the experience for the runner and elevated the look and feel of the marathon,” L.A. Marathon Partnerships Director Dave Klewan said during a press conference this week.
From Julia Mallon’s perspective, organizers have been successful.
“[The route] looks great to me,” she said. “It is going to be a gorgeous course. I hope the crowds will get out there to enjoy it, too.”
And, being a runner first, Julia Mallon said she likes the elevation profile of the race. She likes that it is basically down hill with little variation. She said that’s “her kind of race.”
She hopes the route helps her set a personal best, but would be happy with just having a good time and qualifying for the trials.
“One thing that I’ve learned about marathons is you have to go in knowing what you want to achieve,” she said. “It isn’t about going out there and being top five or 10.
“You better run your race. [Other runners] know what they are doing, you better know what you’re doing.”