Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sigma Pi's Run for Great Cause

UCLA frat members run to raise money for the Rape Treatment Center
By Eli Smukler, Daily Bruin

Athletes from across the world will be weaving down the streets of Los Angeles on Mar. 2, covering neighborhoods from Hollywood to Crenshaw in the 23rd annual L.A. Marathon.

In the middle of an estimated 25,000 runners and over one million spectators will be a handful of dedicated Bruins, many of whom have had little experience in long-distance running.

This year's philanthropy event for the University of California at Los Angeles Sigma Pi fraternity will be to train and run in the 26.2 mile race. They are gathering monetary pledges from around the community to donate to the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center.

Last year, competing in the same event, the fraternity managed to raise over $7,000 with 13 brothers finishing the grueling crosstown race.This year Sigma Pi is hoping to build on their previous success by opening up participation to people outside the fraternity as well.

"Both Greek and non-Greek, guys and girls, we're trying to get a real broad group of people doing it with us this year," sophomore Michael Spiker said.

Spiker, the house philanthropy chair, has organized a weekly training run where runners get together and run a predetermined distance, progressively longer as the weeks go by.

But by no means is this enough to get in shape for such an intense race. Runners are encouraged to do plenty of their own training during the week. Spiker said he runs three times a week.

"(There are) different trails around campus," Spiker said. "We run the perimeter around the school and down by the beach at Santa Monica. It's a little harder around UCLA because there (are) busier streets, but we do find places to run."

Of the 15 to 20 UCLA students planning to run in the marathon, few have ever had to prepare for a race anywhere near this long.

Junior Matt Sandler has been training with the group since early December. Like most of the runners, Sandler has plenty of athletic experience, playing both high school basketball and lacrosse, but has never done anything like this before.

"A lot of us haven't run (even) 12 miles in our lives," Sandler said. "I'm running a new personal high every week. Each time, I realize I just accomplished another goal for myself."

With the completion of such a strict regimen, the group will look to show up on race day with confidence.

However, Sandler knows their inexperience will be difficult to downplay."As much as you can prepare for running a marathon, I don't think anything is going to actually match the intensity of the day," Sandler said.

The Sigma Pi organized running team is only halfway to accomplishing their training goal. After starting out with a six mile run the first week, they hope to finish an 18-mile set a week before the race.

So far training has gone well and the runners are confident."We all have so many other things we could be doing," Sandler said. "It's the other guys around you that motivate you to keep going and getting better and better each week."

(C) 2008 Daily Bruin
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