Richard Crater will be competing in the LA Triathlon this weekend for the 13th year in a row, but he considers his role as a legacy athlete to be part of a much bigger life journey.
“I’ve been clean and sober for the past 22 years,” said the 54-year-old Agoura Hills resident.
As part of his recovery, Crater turned to sports after being dared by a friend.
“[My friend] asked me to do the 1988 LA Marathon with him,” said Crater, recalling his foray into running. “It was very painful because of the minimal training we did.”
Call it sheer determination or pure obstinacy, but Crater has been returning to the streets of LA year after year since then.
“The concept of being a legacy runner or athlete appealed to me so it was a bit disappointing that I missed the first two years of the LA Marathon,” said Crater, a computer engineer who was born and raised in Van Nuys.
When he heard that the Triathlon was debuting in 2000, he jumped at the chance, even with a minimal swimming background.
“I took classes within the community and took a weekend swim camp to prepare for the roughly mile-long swim leg,” he said.
He still does not swim as much as he runs and cycles, but Crater persisted and is one of only 14 athletes in the LA area to have completed the LA Triathlon 13 years in a row.
“This 13-for-13 feat is pretty neat,” he said.
In addition to successive LA Marathons and being a legacy triathlete in the LA Tri, Crater is also a Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon legacy runner and a budding 50-states marathoner.
The latter is an exclusive group of marathoners from all over the country who travel to all 50 states, completing at least one marathon in every state. Crater just returned from Billings, Montana where he completed marathon #22 of the 50-state streak.
“I just like the personal challenge of doing things year after year,” he said, discussing his accomplishments.
According to Crater, the weather for the past 13 years has usually been on the athletes’ side. “Nothing wild like the freezing rain one year during the LA Marathon or the 90-degree temps at the finish another year,” he said.
His favorite part is the bike course, which is mostly uphill. Some years, his times are faster than the year before.
“I try to do better every year but you can’t always predict the outcome,” he said, adding that he’s been battling plantar fasciitis lately, an inflammation of the thick tissue at the bottom of the foot.
“This time around, they’re on both feet, so we’ll see,” he said, seemingly unperturbed.
Crater has more important things in mind, including his 13th LA Triathlon, which is taking place this Sunday, September 30. On Saturday night, the 14 legacy triathletes will also be feted at a VIP dinner.
Watch out for him amongst roughly 2,500 participants hitting the Pacific Ocean off of Venice Beach when the start gun goes off for the 0.9-mile swim. The same triathletes will then jump on their bikes and cycle 24.8 miles across LA before finishing off the race with a 6.2-mile run.