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A Brief History of The Los Feliz Flyers

The Los Feliz Flyers Running and Adventure Club was conceived in the fitting room of the Sport Shoe one Tuesday afternoon in 1984. Mike Bandoni, the owner of the store, had seen his store grow into a Mecca for runners seeking company for their runs on the trails of Griffith Park, and decided that he should organize them into a club. He asked King Rollins, who worked for him at the time, to become the first coach of the Sport Shoe Running Club and within a few months there were 20 or more regulars running from the store every Tuesday.

One of the first club members was King's wife, Marie Murphy, who at that time was trying to qualify for the Irish Olympic team for the L.A. Olympics. Other members form the original group were Steve Chase, Bonnie Chun and Marc La Plante, all who are still on the running scene. A year later King became too involved in his career as a chiropractor to continue coaching. Mike asked one of the regulars, 4:08 miler Gary Greenberg, to take over as coach. Gary had an agenda for the club beyond running, so he came up with a new name for the club: The Los Feliz Flyers Running and Adventure Club.

Gary added a track workout at Los Feliz High once a week, and most weekends he and the mainly single club members came up with one or other "adventure" to supplement the running. The club took a trip to Hawaii, many trips to Rosarito, Santa Barbara and Catalina, and found many reasons to party the rest of the time. By 1989 the track session had moved to Caltech and the club grown to over 50 in membership.

In 1992 track sessions were moved to the dirt track at La Cañada High School and, at about this time, Gary got married. By March of 1994, Gary had moved to Orange County and started a business, so Don Gillman was asked to take over as coach. For a few months he was assisted by Dave Louis, and then when Dave went back to college, Don Lefkowitz took his place as the club co-coach.

It was decided at this time that the Flyers needed a more formal organization and club structure. The organization was officially incorporated and a governing board (steering committee) was elected . The Wednesday track workout was also moved back to Caltech. Club runs were expanded to 5 times a week, a newsletter was established, and eventually a web site was designed.

In 1998 Mike Bandoni died unexpectedly, but Steve Brothen and Brian Patao hosted Tuesday night runs until early 2003. At that time the runs moved to the ranger station in Griffith Park and the name of the store changed to Griffith Park Sports. In 2006 Griffith Park Sports became A Runners Circle, which offers a Thursday evening fun run.

Don Gillman retired as club coach at the end of 1999. We currently do not have a formal coach, but have filled the position from within the club membership with workout and activity coordinators, and the day-to-day activities of the Flyers are continuing as before. The Flyers currently average between 100 and 120 members, and the membership includes a wide range of runners from potential Olympians to weekend fun-runners. The club is a member of both the Road Runners Club of America and USA Track and Field. Club members compete in road races from 5K to ultramarathons, trail races, track, cross-country (we field mens and women's teams in XC races each fall), and triathlons/duathlons. Popular races for the Flyers are the Los Angeles Marathon, the Pasadena Marathon, and the Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon.

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