Nick Riddall is an engineer in charge of driving the fire engine at Fire Station 21, serving South Los Angeles, with the Los Angeles Fire Department. He has been a firefighter for 15 years. He’s also a seasoned marathon runner in training for his 10th full marathon, the 2017 L.A. Marathon.
This is the first year Widows & Orphans has been an official charity of the L.A. Marathon and Nick says it’s an honor to run for this cause. He says he hopes knowing there are other firefighters out there who run the L.A. Marathon for this cause will inspire more people to run.
“I’ve always thought it would be really nice to have firemen running. I know a bunch of the guys who do run. We either see each other when we’re out running or during the marathon. Having the Widows & Orphans do this is great because we can actually support our own cause. This is why I jumped at it when I heard about this,” Nick says. He hopes this generates big support. “It’s good to support different charities but especially this one.”
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Nick grew up seeing the L.A. Marathon take place each year but never paid much attention to it. He was more interested in soccer and that’s how he stayed fit. He took notice though when his mom ran the marathon but it wasn’t until after the birth of his son that Nick realized running the marathon was something he really wanted to do too.
“I always played soccer to stay fit, but by this time I wasn’t playing much soccer anymore. I was never very competitive so I never really thought this was something I would do. After training and doing it successfully the first time, I really enjoyed it. I’ve run the L.A. Marathon every year since then. I’ve also run the Carlsbad and Long Beach marathons a couple times each,” Nick says.
Nick heads to work early and goes for runs. When he’s at work he runs on the treadmill. When he gets off work he tries to run again before going home. “Over the weekends, you just fit it in whenever you can. I have a decent schedule. With a firefighter’s schedule though it’s hard to stick to a hard and fast schedule, but I always feel so much better after I run so I make sure that I get it in.”
He prefers training alone to group training. “It’s something I like to do more on my own where I can run at my own pace but I have run with other groups at times.”
His number one goal is to finish the marathon and he says he’s been lucky enough and blessed that he’s always been able to finish. He always tries to better his finish times with each new marathon. “My first one I just wanted to get done in under four hours and I was able to do that. Wherever you set your goal you just barely make it. I got in with 3:59 so I said for the next one I’ll get in 15 minutes faster. I set the goal for 3:45 and I got in with a time of 3:44. I’ve been trying to get in under 3:30 but I’m sitting right now around 3:34 so timewise I’m always trying to get better.”
How well you do really comes down to how much you put into it. He says there are so many tangible things. So many little things here or there that can make or break your day or your event. “Maybe you couldn’t sleep or it’s just little things from the night before. Maybe it’s just your entire training program. The last two or three years, we were moving. There were so many projects with the house. Hopefully this year I won’t have any of those issues while trying to achieve the goal.”
The weather is a big factor for Nick. He prefers running when it’s cool but says it’s been really warm the last few years so he’s not sure if it’s more the mental toll or the body toll, but it takes a lot out of him over time.
Nick has started generating money already and believes fundraising is important. He set up his L.A. Marathon peer-to-peer fundraising page and says it’s the same platform he’s used over the last three years when fundraising for the Boys & Girls Club of L.A. and Pasadena.
“I may be able to raise funds for both Widows & Orphans and the Boys & Girls Club this year….I try to get the message out on social media to let people know what’s going on.”
-Denise Schlegel, Freelance Writer