2012-03-29 / Family
Thousand Oaks father, son conquer LA Marathon together
Though the main goal of most 14-year-olds is simply to survive the awkward and trying years of early adolescence, Colina Middle School student Trevor Burtzloff set the bar a little higher for himself.
At 8 a.m. on March 18, with the temperature a chilly 44 degrees, the Colina Middle School student and his father, John, joined about 23,000 others in the L.A. Marathon.
Trevor finished with a time of three hours, 42 minutes, coming in 22nd out of 725 runners in his division (male 17-and-under).
He was second among roughly 80 14-year-olds competing in the world-class endurance race.
“There weren’t a lot of people my age running, so I feel pretty good,” Trevor said of his time.
A budding forward for a Conejo Valley-based traveling basketball team called the Kings, Trevor completed the 26.2-mile course almost 45 minutes ahead of his father, who inspired him to run in the marathon.
“When I saw (Trevor) at the finish line, I’ve got to admit, I was pretty choked up,” Burtzloff said. “We hugged it out pretty good.”
Seeing her son and then her husband cross the finish line was an amazing experience, said Jamie Burtzloff.
“ When I saw them come around the corner I was bawling like a baby,” she said. “It was emotional.”
The decision to run
John Burtzloff, a former baseball coach for Westlake High School, said he wanted to run the marathon to get in better shape and cross an item off his “bucket list.”
He was skeptical when his youngest son asked in August about joining him in the worldclass race.
“I didn’t even realize that kids of 13 and 14 were doing marathons,” he said. “I didn’t even know if it was legal.”
After a little research and determining it would be safe, Burtzloff, 42, gave in.
“Trevor has always been a really, really good runner,” his father said. “Naturally, he could just run long distance.”
Jamie Burtzloff said she knew her son would be fine.
“Trevor can run forever,” she said. “It’s just some weird thing.”
Bernie Budnik, a physical therapist at Westlake Physical Therapy on Jensen Court, often treats young long-distance runners.
“Sever’s disease, Achilles tendonitis, things like that,” he said, adding, “Typical runners are pain-free if they stretch properly and are fit.”
Though long-distance running can lead to injury, Budnik said, it will not cause long-term damage to a child’s body.
“ I have nothing against a 14-year-old running a marathon,” Budnik said. “This is something young people train for for months. They know how to increase their mileage and how to hydrate and how to eat properly.”
The father-and-son team ran an average of eight to nine miles a week for six months to get their bodies prepared for the run from Dodger Stadium to the Pacific Ocean.
“Trevor and I would go for a couple short runs during the week and then would go for a long one on, like, Sundays . . . the farthest we went was 18 miles,” John Burtzloff said. “We’d always run from our house towards Sycamore Canyon.”
Trevor, who hasn’t run track since elementary school, called the marathon “physically and mentally challenging.”
“I ran with my iPod and sang a song in my head to try and not think about how far I was going,” he said.
But Trevor’s favorite rappers couldn’t distract him as he neared the end of the course.
“I hit a mental wall,” he said. “I felt awful. I literally wanted to die.”
His father was also feeling the pain.
“At 22, 23 miles you’re miserable,” he said. “You get weird thoughts, your legs feel like crap and you want to stop.”
But stopping was not an option, Burtzloff said.
“The driving force was my two sons,” said Burtzloff, whose other son, Timmy, is 15. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to be an example of determination.’”
Trevor and his father both said crossing the finish line was a relief.
“The exhaustion I felt was crazy,” Burtzloff said. “But it was really cool to finish and experience this with Trevor.”
“ I was glad it was over,” Trevor said, adding, “It was a big deal. I’m so proud of what we accomplished.”
After the end of race, they received medals for their participation.
Then it was nap time.
“We got in the car, drove home and went to sleep,” Trevor said.
As the pain in his legs is fading, Burtzloff said he’s become increasingly interested in running another marathon and beating his time of four hours, 29 minutes.
“I’d like to try really hard to run it in under four hours,” he said. “If I did it again, I would train way more consistently (and) follow a more hard-core training program instead of just flying by the seat of my pants.”
Though Trevor has no plans to run another marathon, he said he wants to run cross country at Westlake High School next year.
“I’ve got the running bug,” he said. “I’m addicted.”
One of Trevor’s classmates, Vinny Corso, said he’s proud of his friend’s accomplishment.
“I knew he was gonna finish strong. He’s just that kind of kid.”