What is SRLA?


SRLA participants running the La Puente 10K race.

SRLA, also known as Students Run LA, is a non-profit program for middle and high schoolers that helps them train for the Los Angeles Marathon. SRLA is made for anyone and everybody regardless of your differences. On the SRLA website, it says, ”Students Run LA prohibits discrimination, in all of its programs and activities, on the basis of sex, age, race, color, religion, creed, national origin, marital status, disability or sexual orientation.” There is no discrimination and it’s welcome to anyone willing to try it out. SRLA is possible because of the support of volunteers and sponsors. It has groups all over the Southern California.  


It all began in 1986 with Harry Shabazian, Eric Spears, and Paul Trapani. When Harry challenged his students to run the marathon with him, Harry’s students doubted that they could finish the marathon, but even when struggling through low self-esteem, they managed to do it and went on to succeed in the future. The SRLA website states, “Hearing about their success, Roberta Weintraub, an LAUSD Board Member, invited Harry, Paul, and Eric to her office to bring this opportunity to students throughout Los Angeles…” As result Students Run LA was born in 1989.


The goal of SRLA is to help students become a better version of themselves and allow students to achieve things they never thought they could do. They also want to help students have a growth mindset, such as ”can do” attitudes and not ¨can’t do.¨ It supports them in making better choices for their future such as choosing healthier food choices, exercising daily, graduating high school, and going on to college. Another benefit from SRLA is that you receive medals, a way for you to show off your achievements and be proud of yourself. Teacher and Students Run LA coach Carl Finer said, “ SRLA teaches students that with hard work and persistence they can do anything; also it helps students develop a positive support network that can last even beyond participation with the program.” 


SRLA has had lots of positive impacts on students. It helped students cope physically and mentally. Running is a way for students to get through their problems, teaching them skills such as determination and resolution. In a New York Times article a student said, “I used running as a way to cope and keep me going, not just physically but also mentally.“With all the work, and the A.P. classes, I used it to help with my mental health. It taught me grit and perseverance.” Additionally, SRLA has allowed students to accomplish things they never thought they could do and it helps develop the characteristics and qualities of a person. Some of these included being more disciplined and ambitious.  


Running itself isn’t the only reason why the program is awesome. It’s also a great program because of how it gives back to other communities with SRLA Cares. They do this by having community projects throughout the training season, such as collecting money and food and donating that to those who need it. Additionally, SRLA is also great because of the people you meet and the relationships that grow stronger through this journey. SRLA is a community that is like a family to runners. Their team is super important because they push each other to not give up and keep going. It doesn’t take long to think of people like your family when you’re surrounded by great people who won’t give up on you, and you won’t either.