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Holtville runner isn't ‘rusty'

April 25, 2002|By RICHARD MYERS

Sports Editor

Forget the desert heat and Oregon rain. Nothing has slowed Gary Rust's dedication to running.

"I've been running for 19 years and not missed a single day come this July 3," said the 55-year-old Holtville resident Wednesday afternoon as he and his running buddies prepared for their workout on the Southwest High track in El Centro.

Rust has run in races all over the world, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada. He has beaten a former Olympic champion and edged a hometown hero at the finish line. He has competed in marathons and lectured others about running and training.

Mostly though, he runs. And runs some more.

"I probably average six miles a day," he said.

He runs mainly in the afternoons and early evenings. Sometimes while preparing for a big race he will run three or four miles in the morning and then his usual six miles in the afternoon.


Adverse weather doesn't really bother him.

"When I lived in Oregon it seemed like I was running in the rain every day," he said. "And then I moved to the desert where it never rains but it gets hot."

Rust acknowledged sometimes when it gets really hot he might do his training indoors.

"I have a treadmill at home," he said. "There is air conditioning above me, a fan in front of me.

"I also have a TV in front of me and I put on running tapes and work out to them," he added.

In addition to working out himself, Rust works with an informal group, the Imperial Valley Adult Running Club.

"We sometimes call ourselves the Go Fasters," he said.

Like Rust, some of the runners are champions in their own right. Rust coaches El Centro's Dennis Bourland, who recently won the overall title in a 5-kilometer race at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium.

He also coaches El Centro's Arnold Ray, who at age 73 is a former world champion in the 80-meter hurdles for seniors.

Ray can run the 100-meter dash in 13 seconds and the 200 in 30 seconds, Rust said.

Rust and his running club regularly meet Wednesdays at Southwest High.

"I give them each a detailed workout," he said.

The club members also get together Saturdays and take on a large hill near Camacho's Restaurant south of El Centro.

"It's a pretty steep hill," Rust said, saying it is 20 meters up a about a 25- to 30-percent graded slope.

"We run it at full speed," Rust said. "We do it 10 to 12 times at 100 percent."

The grueling workouts have helped Rust achieve a lot of success in running.

In 1998, while competing in at a meet in Eugene, Ore., Rust defeated Lee Evans twice. Evans won the 400-meter dash at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. Rust beat him in a heat in the 800 in Eugene and again in another heat.

"That was pretty special," he said.

Rust also has run three five-mile legs in the 165-mile Hood-to-Coast race in Oregon as one of 12 members of his team.

Earlier this year Rust competed in the Tram Run in Palm Springs, a 3.7-mile race to the tram stop.

Another fond memory came in the early 1990s when Rust ran a mile race in Medford, Mass.

"There was a local hometown favorite," Rust recalled. "All the people there were cheering for him.

"It was pretty wild," he continued, adding he edged the hometown hero by a step at the finish line.

Rust clocked 4:31 in that race. His fastest time for the mile is a 4:21. He ran that competing at a race in Oregon in the masters division for runners 40 and older.

Currently he competes in the senior division for athletes age 50 and older. Earlier this month Rust won the 800 at the Palm Desert Senior Games, timing 2:19.41 while battling gusting winds.

Rust has competed in 10 marathons, including the Chicago race, where he timed 2 hours, 51 minutes for 26 miles.

Lately, though, he competes in shorter distances, especially the 800.

"I've entered six races this year and I've won all six in my age division," he said.

In addition to competing Rust has found time to lecture at high schools and colleges on running techniques and training, including weightlifting.

"Upper body strength is half the race," he said. "Your arms determine the length of your stride and how fast your legs turn over."

Rust plans to work with the Southwest High track team this fall and is planning a 24-hour marathon to raise money for the program.

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