Written by John Ferrari / Photographed by Michael Neveux
In 1989, Torrance Memorial Medical Center patron and Golf Tournament committee
member Dave Klein ran the Los Angeles Marathon—his first. His goal
then was to run a marathon every 10 years, but in the 30 years since he
has outdone that by just a bit. He also is a member of Tiger Squadron,
a precision formation flying team based in Southern California. The Squadron
puts on thrilling exhibitions flying vintage warbirds. Pulse caught up
with Dave to ask about his dual odysseys.
How and why did your goal change after that first marathon?
My goal was to run a marathon at age 30, 40, 50 and 60. I ran them at 30
and 40, then took a break. When my kids were growing up I didn’t
think I’d be able to run another at 50, so I ran the Los Angeles
Marathon again at 46, thinking that would be the last one.
I’d heard about people running marathons in all 50 states and thought
that was a great goal, so I ran in Chicago and St. George, Utah, in 2011
and 2012. I had such a good time in Chicago that I ran the New York City
and Boston marathons too. Then I completed a series called the World Marathon
Majors, which added Tokyo, Berlin and London.
My wife, Song, and I had the opportunity to travel when we became empty
nesters, and we mixed in races along the way … even in Antarctica,
where we ran through the snow, ice, mud, penguins and cold. Once we had
run in Antarctica, it just made sense to try to join the Seven Continents
Club. After running in Melbourne, Australia, and Santiago, Chile, we’ve
run marathons on six continents.
In August we’re going to Kenya to run with Masaai on the last continent.
Our sons, Christopher and Jonathan, will be joining us; they will be running
their first marathon with me as I finish (hopefully) my last.
How much do you run in an average week?
I use a 16-week program to train for marathons. It starts at about 30 miles
per week and gets up to 50 miles per week about three weeks before the race.
What does running do for you, besides keeping you physically fit?
Running gives me the opportunity to have some quiet time to think about
the day’s events and plan for tomorrow. I think it keeps me a little
sharper mentally too.
How do you stay committed to running? Do you allow yourself time off from
Sometimes it is difficult to keep the training going. After a race I usually
take a few weeks off. It’s definitely hard to start training after
a long break, but I feel so much better after a few weeks.
Do you run alone or with others?
I do both. Normally I run during the lunch hour for 4 to 7 miles around
my office in Torrance, and I’m on my own. Long runs on the weekends
are much more enjoyable with friends. We generally run on The Strand from
Torrance Beach up to Manhattan Beach or on various trails around Palos Verdes.
What’s your favorite marathon?
The Boston Marathon would have to be my favorite. I was lucky enough to
join Team MR8 to raise money for the Martin Richard Foundation; he was
the 8-year-old boy who died in the bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon.
Wearing the team jersey during the run was truly humbling. The energy
during that marathon is incredible.
What can you tell people starting a (hopefully) long-term exercise program
to help them stick with it?
Start at a level you can achieve easily and add a little bit to your program
regularly. Once exercise is part of your everyday regimen, it becomes
much easier to accomplish. It really doesn’t take a lot of time;
a little bit every day adds up.
You’re also a pilot with the Tiger Squadron; how did you become involved
with that group?
My father was a pilot for Western Airlines and Delta when I was growing
up, so I guess there was a little bit of flying in my blood. I started
to learn how to fly in 2007 and bought a Cessna 182 in 2008. I became
partners in a slightly larger plane after that and my partner was interested
in learning about formation flying. It’s been a great experience.
When we’re flying together it takes 100% concentration to perform
safely. The level of expertise and camaraderie amongst our Squadron is
truly phenomenal. •