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In Marathons, He Manages to Skate By

March 03, 1994

Frank Genco of Covina plans to set a record in the Los Angeles Marathon this Sunday as the first amputee to skate 35 marathons on one leg.

Of course, he concedes, he's probably the only one-legged marathon skater.

Genco, 58, propels his 120-pound body by thrusting his crutches, customized with special shock-absorbing tips, tennis handle grips and arm rests wrapped with red, white and blue duct tape.

A hypnotist by trade, Genco got the idea to skate a marathon from a client, a competitive roller skater from Long Beach. He raced the Long Beach Marathon in 1979 and got hooked.

Since then, he has raced every Los Angeles Marathon since the event began nine years ago, and has finished all of them. It takes him a little under four hours to complete the 26-mile course.

He lost his right leg when he was 3 because of a birth defect, but Genco says he never felt limited.

"I come from a large family, with 11 brothers and sisters, so I did everything they did," he said.

That included biking, swimming and leading a Boy Scout troop. But one-legged marathon skating was a sport he developed himself.

Along with the trials all marathon runners face--heat, thirst, exhaustion--Genco has his own. Strewn with cast-off paper cups, the streets are an obstacle course. One year, he slipped on a cup, Genco said. Another time it was an orange peel, another time a piece of candy.

"The runners are really great," he said. "They picked me up, threw me on my crutches, and said keep on going."


Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge has named Mary Brosius of Pasadena rose curator for its new international rose garden.

A professional horticulturist, Brosius was one of 12 applicants for the job, which includes supervising maintenance, volunteers and student interns; training docents, and developing educational programs.

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