L.A. Firefighter / Emergency Medical Technician, Greg Balandran, from LAFD Fire Station 60 wanted to cross off two big items on his list of goals: to work for the LAFD and to complete a marathon. Coming from a small station in Riverside, he thought of the LAFD as the major leagues.
Since working for the LAFD, Balandran has fundraised for Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firefighter’s Fund and different non-profits. When the L.A. Marathon made the fund an official charity partner he immediately signed up to take part in giving back to the organization.
After successfully running his first marathon, Balandran dedicated himself to doing more and has continued to run and raise funds for the organization annually. 2020 marks three years as an L.A. Fire team member.
He says, “I donate every year since I was a rookie. It was another avenue that I wanted to do when I started to fundraise for Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firefighters Fund.”
Balandran enjoys running mud and 5K races, but before a few years ago, had never attempted a marathon. To get ready for the first marathon, he utilized resources such as asking a friend who ran in many marathons for advice to downloading an app.
As he gears up for the next one, Greg has been following a “mile a day” challenge that his friend created. Starting in June, Balandran ran for 196 days without missing any and is keeping the challenge going as the race draws closer.
He says, “I haven’t gone on longer runs, but been maintaining to run every day. My buddy who started this challenge with his wife, he is somewhere at day 720. He has been running for two years non-stop.”
When going out for a jog, he laces up his shoes and turns up his playlist of house and hip-hop music. Running to music pumps Balandran’s adrenaline and the fast beats make him feel like he is spinning some mixes on stage. If the song is good, he loses track of time and ends up running longer.
An Opportunity to Challenge Himself and Help the Community
“I’m a person who really enjoys music with all hypes. If I run without music, it’s a short run,” Balandran chuckles
Being a 26-mile race, Balandran always looks forward to seeing different parts of Los Angeles that he never gets to encounter on regular basis. The race route goes from Dodger Stadium to the Santa Monica pier. Along the way, Balandran passes crowds of strangers cheering for the marathoners as well as some of his own fellow firefighters working at fire stations on the route. Even though he gets tired, Balandran keeps on pushing and thinks about making the fire department proud during the race.
“You run through Downtown, Hollywood Boulevard, and Chinatown. What’s cool for me is a lot of our stations are moved up to the area. I will see guys that I know that are working and they are yelling and screaming at you,” he chuckles.
The initial goals of this marathon for Balandran are to raise more funds and improve his time, now, he is telling the other firefighters to join him on running outside of work.
Running gives Balandran an opportunity to consistently challenging himself and put more than 100% into an activity while also helping the community.
To support Greg and help him reach his goal, visit: https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/2020-la-marathon-and-la-big-5k1/gregbalandran
By Katherine Abando
Read more about our LAFD Heroes