As runners from all over the world geared up for the 34th annual Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon, Kathy Kartalis, the senior vice president of Skechers Global Product, laced up her running shoes, too.
Kartalis joined over 24,000 runners along with 170 Skechers employees on last Sunday. The marathon draws athletes from over 63 countries and all 50 states in the U.S.
Aside from overseeing the production of the official gear for the marathon, Kartalis is quite the runner herself. The senior vice president has been running recreationally for over 30 years. But Kartalis, who typically runs short distance, decided to train for the 13.1-mile run.
“As a short distance runner, I decided it was time to go the extra mile and participate,” Kartalis told FN.
Skechers Performance, a division of Skechers USA Inc., became the marathon’s title sponsor back in 2016. Kartalis said the decision to take over as sponsor came as a surprise to many.
“When we first started with the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon in 2016, people were surprised,” she recalled.
With a slew of accomplishments, such as winning another Runner’s World award for the Skechers GoRun Razor 3 Hyper shoe and four years of sponsoring the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon, the company has become a credible force in the running world. (And to add to that list of accomplishments, Meb Keflezighi won the Boston Marathon in Skechers GoRuns back in 2014. The brand ambassador has also competed in the Olympics wearing Skechers, as well.)
Kartalis said that she decided to participate in this year’s half marathon event after a group of colleagues split into a three-person relay for a race last year.
“We had a great time and I loved racing towards the finish line, tired and dripping, but feeling a true sense of pride and accomplishment,” said Kartalis.
Over the years, Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based Skechers has incorporated a wellness program for staff. Through the program, various running groups have formed across departments, making it the perfect landscape to take on this year’s marathon.
To train for the iconic marathon, Kartalis, who lives half a mile from the water, would lace up her GoRun Ride 7s and run between Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach every morning. Still, it took patience to bump up her endurance.
“Since I was already a regular runner, I slowly increased my distance from 3 to 4 miles last year, to 6 to 7 miles. Two months before the marathon, I pushed it to a weekly run of 8 to 11 miles,” Kartalis shared.
Her secret? It’s all in keeping at your own pace.
“To just start, at whatever pace you have, and go from there,” Kartalis said. “Your body will let you know what a comfortable distance is and even if you never get to a full marathon, there are 5-10K events that you can join to feel the camaraderie of the running community.”
With contributions by Charlie Carballo