29 L.A Marathons later, Silver Lake man is still running

John Butcher of Silver Lake was not thrilled with his time at Sunday’s L.A. Marathon – about 5 hours, 27 minutes.  Still, the 64-year-old Butcher,  an HIV and cancer survivor, has every reason to be proud. Sunday was his 29th consecutive L.A. Marathon.  He is among the approximately 185 so-called “legacy runners” who have participated in every L.A. Marathon  since the event began in 1986. Three years after his first marathon,  Butcher  was diagnosed with HIV. In 2010,  Butcher was diagnosed and began treatment for cancer.  Still, neither disease kept him from missing any one of the annual  marathons.

Butcher was one of the legacy runners who was featured in a promotional campaign by ASICS, the shoe company and marathon sponsor.   After submitting several  photos of himself for possible use in the campaign, Butcher was surprised to see an enormous Sunset Boulevard super graphic featuring an image of himself wearing dark shorts and a white tank top as he ran in the first marathon.  In an email he sent to friends and neighbors before Sunday’s race, Butcher, who has lived in Silver Lake for 30 years, shared his memory of his first marathon:

It truly is me 28 years ago, my very first marathon at age 36.  It was taken somewhere past 17 miles because I started out with my running buddy, Jim Schoenemann who challenged me to do it, but at 17 miles I hit the proverbial WALL and crashed.  I told Jim to go on, I’d catch up at the finish.  I was running alone and struggling in this pic.  I got to thinking that I might get some “mileage” out of being up on that bill board, but then realized no one is really going to recognize me!  Seeing it for the first time was, well…., like an out of body experience wrapped in a  28 year time warp back to the 80’s … I gather that this brief and unexpected plucking of me from comfortable obscurity is what Warhol offhandedly referred to as everyone’s 15 minutes of fame.  Whatever that means, I hope, while it lasts, that I present myself to the public as an honorable man who happens to be gay and HIV+.

When not running the marathon, Butcher usually runs in Silver Lake along Redesdale and West Silver Lake Drive.


  1. I love this so much! I’ve run 4 LA Marathons and thought I was done due to injuries, but after seeing this, maybe I’ve got another one in me.

  2. John is my neighbor, and such an inspiration to us all! Here is another interesting bit of information from another neighbor…….Some years ago during and especially hot LA Marathon John was over come by the heat, hauled off to a hospital in an ambulance, pumped full of fluids with an IV, released and put into a taxi. John directed the taxi to the spot where he had stopped and then completed the race. It was his slowest marathon – but he’s unstoppable.

  3. You the man John! Thanks for the inspiration! Keep it going!

  4. I concur! Thank you for the inspiration! You are an incredible human being!!

  5. New motivation from John Butcher! I no longer have the right to complain about running.

  6. Just completed my 3rd LA marathon and swore it would be my last. Now that I’ve seen this, how can I not keep going?

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