We are so saddened to hear of Legger Gordon Alexander’s passing, tragically killed in an unfathomable accident a few weeks ago. He was so full of life and taken from us way too soon. He was such a positive, kind and generous person who volunteered with his partner Lisa Digger, a long-time 9.5 Legger, at the recent shoe drive. Gordon had also just run his first half marathon distance ever in training, which he was so thrilled to achieve.
On behalf of the Leggers, Lisa (Gordon’s partner) and Cat (Gordon’s long-time friend) pay tribute to him in the posts below.
On this Saturday’s run (12/10) look out for our LEGGERS’ tribute to Gordon Alexander at the Baywatch Headquarters turnaround.
Lisa and Cat will be at the Baywatch Headquarters turnaround with Gordon’s running shoes and surfboard, another of his passions. Please take a moment to wave and say “hello” as you run past and remember one of Gordon’s favorite sayings, “it’s another beautiful day!”
By Lisa Digger
Gordon was a new member of Leggers in the 2022-2023 season and relatively new to running. But like everything Gordon did, he approached it with enthusiasm and energy.
Gordon’s running journey began before the Leggers season as I was starting my training program for a fall marathon and Gordon, being my loving, supportive and encouraging partner, said he would join me on my training runs. Gordon and I hiked, backpacked and surfed and he was also a 5th dan karate black belt. This meant he was strong, quick and physically fit so when he started running with me (at my pace) he found it quite easy!
Prior to this, the farthest Gordon had run was 10k and he enjoyed seeing our mileage slowly increase through the summer up to 8 miles and then hitting 10 miles! Being an engineer, Gordon loved the statistics and tracked his runs and challenged himself to improve his times and splits. We entered the 2022 Santa Monica Classic, along with our friend Cat, the first road race Gordon had competed in and he set a couple of personal targets – to run under 8:30 minutes per mile pace and to come in the top 10 for his age group. He planned his run and training and was over the moon to achieve both which was also a personal best for him for a run of this distance.
A couple of weeks before his passing, Gordon and I ran 13.1 miles, partly with our 9.5 Leggers pace group. It was his first half marathon distance ever and he was so thrilled to achieve this milestone. It’s one of my beloved memories of running with Gordon, he was so happy and took a video of us as we ran along the Santa Monica beach path back to 1450. I know, if he were still with us, he would have gone on to enter the LA marathon.
Gordon was one of the kindest, most cheerful, positive and generous people you could wish to meet. He made everyone feel welcome and was always happy to serve and help, volunteering at the recent Leggers shoe drive.
I have no words to describe how much I miss Gordon. He supported me in my running in so many ways – training with me; calling me when I was out on super long marathon training runs to make sure I was ok and to motivate me; massaging my tired legs after long runs… and so much more. I will continue to run the miles for both of us, knowing you’re always by my side.
By Cat Lukaszewski
My friendship with Gordon Alexander, while decidedly not centered on running, was notably bookended by the two marathons I have run. I met Gordon through my running partner and fellow Legger, Lisa Digger. Lisa and I met on an 18 mile hike through the Santa Monica Mountains in the summer of 2019 and quickly discovered that we had both been injured while training for the LA Marathon earlier that year. We were determined to try again and joined the Leggers for the 2019 – 2020 season, successfully running the Los Angeles Marathon in March of 2020, when the United States was on the verge of entering into the pandemic lockdown that would change our lives forever.
Early in the lockdown, I decided to further embrace hiking while addressing a running injury and joined Lisa and her then friend Gordon, both avid hikers, for a backpacking trip up San Bernardino Mountain. Bagging the peak was epic. Many others turned around, discouraged after post-holing in a thick blanket of snow, but not us. We microspiked our way up an icy snow filled ravine to the top and glissaded down the same ravine on the return. It was a total thrill for my first backpacking trip since high school. I quickly learned of Gordon’s great enthusiasm for getting out in nature – hiking, surfing and so much more. It was contagious and I immediately felt that I had much to learn from this man, who was a born teacher, always eager to share his impressive breadth of knowledge with anyone willing to learn. Before long, I found myself wanting to know everything! It helped that we shared a love of photography and he never tired of my frequent stops to capture interesting vistas. Gordon taught us about the flora and fauna of Southern California along the way. We often stopped to look – and listen.
The three of us went on to have many more adventures and bag many more peaks, completing the Classic Southern California Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge, climbing Mount Whitney in a day and car camping or backpacking in Zion and Yosemite, near Death Valley and through the Carrizo Gorge Wilderness. There were other trips I regrettably couldn’t make for some reason or other but Lisa and Gordon, by then romantically partnered, hiked everywhere – they did it all! On our journeys, I made a point of absorbing every one of Gordon’s teachings. He helped me figure out how to open my stiff bear can on cold mornings and coached me, gently, in overcoming my fear of Jetboils. I learned so many things! Once, on a particularly challenging and very cold backpacking trip near Death Valley, Gordon, an environmental engineer, literally saved our lives by figuring out how to fix some long piping that had frozen and cracked, leaving us without a viable water source in a remote ghost town. It was after that trip that my mother began asking, “will Gordon be there?” every time I announced that I intended to tackle a daring new feat. Gordon became my LA dad. I claimed him as such. Or so I thought! It wasn’t until after he passed that I realized just how many disciples he had. I was just one of a huge number of the beloved “sports fans” he had taken under his wing over the years as he instructed in both hiking and martial arts.
More recently, Lisa and I turned our primary focus back to running as we trained for the 2022 New York Marathon. We started with our Boston Bound and 9.5 Leggers friends during the off season and renewed our memberships when the official training began. This time, Gordon joined Leggers along with us and ran with the 9.5s. In September, the three of us ran the Santa Monica Classic 10k together – Gordon’s first road race. Upon crossing the finish line, he gave the same “woo hoo” shout he’d give when we summited a mountain or conquered some other physical challenge. Whenever I passed him running with the Leggers, Gordon would hop out of formation and give me a shout and a high five, always with a goofy smile on his face. Although Lisa had to pull out of the New York Marathon, which took place not long after Gordon’s accident, I ran the race for all three of us – Gordon, Lisa and me. I felt their absence (an understatement) and hope that Lisa and I will be able to run NY together in 2023.
It is difficult to believe that Gordon is gone. Those of us who count ourselves among his students had so much more to learn. My promise to Gordon is that I will continue to hike and to run in his honor. Lisa and I will be tackling many of the challenges we had planned together, always in remembrance. Every morning, I wake up and hear Gordon say, “it’s another beautiful day,” as he did first thing on each morning of our travels together. He will live on for as long as we seize the day.