Not everyday one gets to celebrate a 70th birthday, so Melda Dean decided to do something special for El Segundo.
The 70-year-old beach city, known for producing oil and baseball's Brett brothers, is the birthday girl in this case. Dean is only 58 but thought 70 was a nice round number. So one night she began running and by noon the next day she had covered 70 miles.
Her husband, who started her running 13 years ago, encouraged her. "I was celebrating my birthday," she said after the run. "My husband said, 'Why don't you do 70 for the city's birthday.' I love this town."
Dean, an ultradistance runner, has completed even longer runs. She has run the Western States 100 and is preparing for the Pacific Crest 50 in San Diego next month. But this one was special because it was for her hometown. She even received recognition from City Hall.
Dean devised a circular course a little longer than four miles, starting at her home. During the 16 laps through darkness, cold and hills she used her home as her aid station.
"I started at 9 p.m. Saturday and ran all night," she said. "A friend paced me over the first 20 miles. After a while it felt like it was just a dream. At times I walked--but I walked pretty fast. I finished about noon."
Dean began running with her husband on the El Segundo High School track. She found she liked it--the longer the distance the better. She likes to train around Topanga Canyon and the Santa Monica Mountains. She doesn't time herself during runs but says she always finishes in time.
"If I run real fast I don't get anything out of it," she said. "I get a lot more out of ultradistance. I do competitive runs but I don't ever wear a watch. I just listen to my body and go at my own pace."
The Brett brothers will be among former El Segundo High baseball stars on display in the annual El Segundo Alumni Game and Eagle Family Reunion on Feb. 14 at Recreation Park. George and Ken Brett, pitcher Scott McGregor of Baltimore and umpire Darryl Cousins will be among the players for the odd years vs. even years 1 p.m. game.
Pregame activities will include batting practice at 10 a.m., a photo and autograph session at 11:45 and a home run contest at 12:50.
Proceeds go to the school's baseball program. Players from 1960 through 1982 are invited to play and can contact Coach John Stevenson at the school.
Morningside High graduate Elden Campbell is making his way through the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball wars pretty successfully for a freshman. The 6-10 center helped Clemson get off to a 18-1 start and a Top 10 ranking.
Campbell is the team's first big man off the bench and is the fifth leading scorer at 10.3 points per game. He leads the team with 46 blocked shots, second in the ACC, and is shooting 57% from the floor. He also leads the team in points per minutes. However, he also leads the team in fouls, limiting his playing time. Against Duke last weekend he scored 10 points in eight minutes but fouled out.
Campbell is part of a California connection that is helping resuscitate Clemson. Also in the lineup are guard Michael Tate from Compton and forward Larry Middleton from Taft High.
Running enthusiasts can get their share of competition at the fifth Los Angeles Dietitians Food and Fitness 5-K and 10-K runs in Playa del Rey on March 8 and the eighth Tom Sullivan St. Patrick's Day 10-K in Torrance on March 15.
The Playa del Rey races will start on Vista del Mar north of Imperial Highway and finish at lifeguard station 53 on Dockweiler Beach. Entry fee is $10 with a T-shirt or $6 without by Feb. 21. The 5-K will begin at 8 a.m., preceding the 10-K at 8:15. The course is sanctioned by the Athletics Congress. Nutritional counseling will be offered before and after the races and Ellen Coleman, a triathloner and author of "Eating for Endurance," and Evelyn Tribole, a national-caliber distance runner and author of "Eating on the Run," will appear.
The Tom Sullivan 10-K will be held at Del Amo Fashion Center and will again benefit the Blind Children's Center. Entry fee by March 5 is $12 including T-shirt and complimentary refreshments. The race will begin at 8 a.m. and include several special categories, including a wheelchair division and 200 pounds-plus division.