Talking about Running, the LA Marathon, and Yoga with Tracey Russell
The Conqur Endurance Group manages the Los Angeles Marathon. Their CEO Tracey Russell is the woman who runs the marathon–well, she really runs the organization that puts on this community event. In addition to being a devoted runner, Tracey is an avid yoga practitioner who took some time to talk to LA YOGA about her yoga practice, marathon initiatives, and more.
LA YOGA: What are some of the things that make the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon an integral part of the city and a must-run race?
Tracey Russell: This year will mark the 33rd year the Los Angeles Marathon has been in existence. More than ever, it has become such a staple within the community as a unifier that truly embodies the Los Angeles spirit. Our marathon runs through four cities and countless neighborhoods, each with individual characteristics and personalities. The Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon stands out as an example of the diversity in greater Los Angeles and showcases the determination and grit that exists within our city.
The marathon unites people of all ages, ethnicities, and genders. This is the case whether you are running in the marathon or cheering on the sidelines. Many runners participate in the marathon to support and celebrate others through the significant fund-raising efforts for one of our 75 charity partners that collectively raise nearly four million dollars each year.
The 2018 Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon Initiatives
What are some of the initiatives you are excited about for the 2018 Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon?
TR: The new LA Loyal Program is an exciting initiative we created this year. It is inspired by our 144 legacy runners who have run the previous 32 marathons. LA Loyal celebrates our runners and those who run our marathon consecutively. We wanted to create a program that not only celebrated our existing loyal runners, but also one that appeals to new runners who want to start their own legacy and run with us year after year. We are recognizing those with two- and five-year streaks with cool swag and those who have run 10 or more with a coveted gold medal which features the original 1986 Los Angeles Marathon medal mark.
Cross-Training: Yoga and Running with Tracey Russell
You mention that yoga is your favorite non-running activity. Do you have any go-to practices, teachers, or studios in LA?
TR: The best part about Los Angeles is that wherever I may be, whether it’s Downtown, Midtown, or the West Side, I can always find a great yoga studio. I kiddingly tell friends back east that yoga in LA is like Starbucks, there’s a studio on every other corner. My go-to studio is YogaWorks in Larchmont or Los Feliz. I’ll practice at the Westside Studio when in NYC for business. Some of my favorite teachers in LA include Colleen Garrity, Ella Cojocaru, and Joe Kara. I always try to get in a class with Laurie Sleep when in NYC.
Is anyone ever surprised by your love of yoga?
Not really; so many people in LA practice yoga and over the past several years, a lot of runners have seen the benefits of incorporating yoga into their fitness routine.
What do you feel are some of the reasons why yoga can be a helpful practice to combine with running?
My motivation to begin practicing yoga was to increase flexibility and focus more on my breath. As someone who didn’t carve out time to stretch after runs, practicing yoga taught me better alignment and how to safely and effectively stretch. That was nearly 10 years ago. The increased flexibility certainly helped my body respond better to the miles I was logging on the roads. As my teachers over the years have taught me about the importance of breath, I’ve been able to incorporate that thinking and practice when I’m off the mat and at the office or out on a run.
Making the Marathon Personal
Do you have a personal story you would like to share about being a part of the Conqur Endurance Group and the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon?
I have been here now close to five years. In this position, I was given the opportunity to reimagine what our business could be. I am particularly proud of the work our team has done in re-engineering and re- branding our business to be able to work more effectively with business partners and to communicate more deliberately with our participants. We have reason to be proud of the significant difference our charity program makes for thousands of people in our community. More dollars are being raised each year for incredible and worthy causes here in the LA community.
It is also very rewarding to know that our team plays a big part in helping people overcome obstacles and challenges in their lives through their participation in our marathon and our other events. We have a site on our home page called “My LA Moment.” Here runners can post personal stories about why they are running the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon. So many people are running it for someone else. It is special to read these compelling and amazing stories that are a testament to the profound impact our marathon has on so many lives.