It began with a social hour. Then there was dinner. After that came music, a guest speaker, a slide presentation and an awards ceremony.
It took almost four hours to complete the activities, but none of the 100 people who sat through it seemed to mind.
Just about everyone at the Glendale Adventist Academy cafeteria had stamina. They knew how to pace themselves. Sitting through a marathon meeting is no sweat when--like a great many of those in attendance--you've run a real marathon.
Welcome to the awards banquet for the Adventist Marathon Clinic, the program that can turn just about anyone into a marathoner--especially those who have only run away from exercise before.
"Through the years, man has become selfish, idle and so dependent on machinery that he has forgotten how to use his God-given gifts," said Fred Hosillos, clinic director. "Man has great potential and it's not hard to tap it."
Connie Febre of Eagle Rock was in less than average condition when she joined the clinic in January, 1986.
Febre, 35, had been injured in 1980 while working as a nurse. She was helping a partially paralyzed patient out of a wheelchair when the man lost his balance and fell on the 5-foot-1, 95-pound Febre.
The result was a herniated disc on three levels, subsequent surgery, pain and a diagnosis from the surgeon that she might never walk normally again.
Febre underwent therapy to strengthen her back and to build up the muscles in her left leg, which had atrophied two inches after her injury.
The pain was still there when she joined the clinic as a walker, but it gradually diminished as she built up her endurance and strength and began running.
In December, Febre finished the Honolulu Marathon in 5:26:00.
"It was the most satisfying thing I ever experienced," said Febre, who is training for the Los Angeles Marathon on March 1. "I felt like such a winner, especially after being told I might never walk normally again. It's given me a lot of confidence and I'm very appreciative of being healthy."
Hosillos, 46, has been helping people find improved health and confidence--and in some cases find each other--since he started the running program in 1982 in his hometown of Iloilo City in the Philippines.
Hosillos was invited by the Southern California Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to import his program to Glendale in 1984 and since has helped launch similar programs in Rolling Hills, Temple City and West Covina.
The clinics, which cost $30, are open to people of all ages and religions. Alumni include a 71-year-old woman who completed a 15-K race in 1984. The next clinics will begin March 7 and are geared toward the person who has never run before.
"Three years ago, I thought only the finest athletes in the world could do a marathon," said Horst Bokerman, 50, of Temple City. "But the approach and techniques in this program help make goals seem reachable. It doesn't scare you away.
"What is taught has nothing to do with speed. It has everything to do with endurance. The people who stick it out are amazed. After they get going in the clinic, they're usually curious and ask themselves, 'Can I go beyond this? "
The regimen was developed by John O. Wagner, a Honolulu cardiologist who devised it 13 years ago as a cardiac rehabilitation program.
Participants must have medical clearance and in some instances undergo treadmill tests before they begin, but Hosillos said anyone who follows his program sensibly will be able to run nine miles at the end of the 12-week course. Those wishing to venture into longer distances may stay on for a 36-week program.
Each clinic is broken into beginner, intermediate and advanced groups. Beginners start by jogging 30 minutes three times a week at a 15-minute-a-mile pace. For the true novice, even that pace is comfortable. For anyone with some jogging experience, it's hard work to keep from going faster.
Hosillos stresses the social benefits of running. In addition to the individual activity Sunday mornings at a local park to discuss health-related topics before undertaking a group run. If you can't hold a conversation while running, you're going too fast. The emphasis for participants is on finishing, not winning.
At the end of each year, participants from the four clinics get together for a December trip to Hawaii for the Honolulu Marathon.
"They're not looking to produce any world-beaters," said Bob Lowe, 51, of Burbank, who ran last year's Honolulu Marathon in 4:34:00. "Twenty-seven people from the clinic went over to Hawaii and 27 finished. When you're done with the race and turn around and watch some of the other people come in, you have to admire their determination. It's amazing."
For many people, the running boom of the '70s came to an end on July 20, 1984, when Jim Fixx, who wrote "The Complete Book of Running," suffered a heart attack and died while running along a state highway in Hardwick, Vt.