Gondos Cross The Finish Line With SRLA


Isaac Ng, Sports Editor

Eleven participants from Venice High’s Student Run LA Program, commonly known as SRLA, competed and successfully finished the Los Angeles Marathon March 20. 

“We are happy to announce that all our students completed the marathon and received their medals,” said coach Michael Smith, who has led Venice’s SRLA program for 14 consecutive years. 

According to Smith, SRLA’s motto is “completion over competition.” 

“While we always want our students to do their best, the ultimate goal is that the students finish the marathon,” Smith said. 

Freshman Malicka Taffa, who completed her first ever Los Angeles Marathon with the program,  said she was overwhelmed with emotion knowing she was about to achieve her dreams. 

“I started crying in the beginning,” Taffa said. “I’ve been preparing for this since September. It took blood, sweat and tears and a lot of mental strength. But at the end, I felt like light, and I felt proud and happy.” 

According to Taffa, the runners trained on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for two to three miles and the weekends for 22 mile practices. 

Taffa actually thought about giving up on the last six miles of the marathon but ultimately propelled herself to the finish line. 

“At one point I sat down and kind of doubted myself,” Taffa said. “I just wanted the pain to stop but I told myself, ‘You’re closer to the finish than the start line. So just finish it.’” 

Taffa had joined SRLA due to a heart condition and wanted to try something new. 

“I wanted to try something out of the box because I knew it was now or never and running isn’t my thing,” Taffa said. “I wanted to get out of my comfort zone.”