The ESPN Radio reporter spends his days running down stories and going for training runs.
One day Beto Duran will be lugging his tape recorder into Staples Center, cozying up to Kobe Bryant, scraping the inside dirt on the Lakers.
A day later, Duran might be pointing his car toward Chavez Ravine, fighting the media horde after Clayton Kershaw tosses another gem. Day 3 could mean heading to Westwood, working on a piece about UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley.
Adjusting the words slightly on an old saying: it’s a tough job being a Los Angeles sports reporter for ESPN-Radio’s 710, but somebody’s gotta do it.
“I really am living the dream,” says Duran, 36, born, raised and still living in Carson. “I always say, ‘Don’t wake me up.’ I’m afraid somebody’s going to tap me on the shoulder and say, ‘You’ve pulled this off long enough. Get back to reality.’”
Duran not only can run down stories, he can run, period. Duran has lined up for every Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon and will be there for the Oct. 26 fifth edition.
As runners go, Duran is hardly the uber serious type, keeping a log on every workout, counting fat gram intake, breaking down quarter-mile splits. He doesn’t even know his Rock ‘n’ Roll PR.
“One fifty and change?” he says, his voice trailing off to indicate the uncertainty.
This much he does know about the clock.
“As long as I beat two hours,” he adds, “I don’t care.”
The fifth of seven children born to Mexican immigrants, Duran delivered the Daily Breeze newspaper as a kid. But before securing rubber bands around the paper, Duran would devour the sports section.
While he was an excellent student at Carson High, Duran had no idea what he wanted to do for a career.
“A doctor? A lawyer? I had no clue,” he admits.
He was working as sports editor of the school newspaper when the teacher said he had a knack for writing and might consider it as a profession.
“I didn’t know you could make a career out of this,” he says. “I guess all those years of being a paperboy I was learning something.”
Baseball was his preferred sport at Carson High, lining up in the outfield, erasing would-be base hits. He ran cross country in the fall to stay fit.
By his early 30s, the 6-foot-1 reporter weighed 210 pounds. Wanting to shed some weight, he committed to the first Rock ‘n’ Roll L.A. Half Marathon and hasn’t missed once since. He now weighs 200 pounds.
As you would expect from a man who’s paid to string together words, Duran’s eloquent in describing what moves him to run.
“Running’s the only workout you can’t cheat,” he says. “If you’re lifting weights, you don’t have to do all three sets. But once you start running, you’ve gotta turn around and come back.
“If you have a cramp, if you hurt, you can’t listen to your body and stop. You have to keep plugging away. And I know this sounds esoteric, but it helps you in your professional and personal life. You have to keep plugging away.”
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Like any reporter who deals with athletes on a daily basis, Duran has his favorites. Count Kobe at the top of his list.
“Kobe is at his locker after every single game, win or lose,” he says. “And he speaks his mind. You may not want to hear it, but he speaks his mind.”
He admires Bryant’s work ethic too.
“I’m not saying it’s every game, but there are games Kobe shows up at 4 for a 7:30 tipoff,” recalls Duran. “The only people there are the guys working on the lights, Kobe and a coach. He might work on one drill, over and over. Then, come game time, he’ll execute the move. There’s a method to his madness.”
And some athletes rub him the wrong way.
“The superstars are usually the nicest,” he says. “The ones who think they’re superstars but aren’t, they’re the worst.”
Duran has run one marathon. His time: 5:01:00. “It rained like a monsoon,” he says.
He underwent knee surgery last February and has restricted his training to trails and soft track surfaces. To cross-train, he has added cycling with plans to race a triathlon.
The father of a 9-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter, Duran typically gets in his runs after dropping off the kids at school.
“It clears your head,” he says.
Showing his professional versatility, he contributes to Time Warner Cable’s Lakers coverage, in Spanish and English, plus announces boxing.
He pays life lessons forward, often dropping in on high school journalism classes and sharing his tale.
Says Duran, “I tell them, ‘If I can do it, anybody can do it. Dream big, work hard, stay quiet and it can happen.’”
About The Author:
Don Norcross is a San Diego-based sports writer, follow him on Twitter @Don_Norcross.