Professor Takes Steps in Marathon

By Esperanza Juarez

Unconventional and spontaneous are both words that could be used
to described Cal Poly dance teacher Wesley Acker. He swung into his
dancing career rather suddenly and is now using that foundation in
preparation for another big step in his life, or steps.

When it comes to making life-altering decisions, Acker’s
impulsiveness continues to this very day. Last year for the first
time, he decided to run a marathon without any traditional
preparatory training. Acker went big by choosing the world-famous
Los Angeles Marathon as his first ever competitive running

While he initially thought his marathon running was a one-time
deal, he was hooked into signing up again as he reminisced about
his previous experience when he was contacted by the organization
about this year’s event.

Acker’s spontaneity was apparent when he was in college. The one
time pre-law student decided mid-college he didn’t really want to
become a lawyer as much as he thought he did. Interestingly, Acker,
a Brigham Young University alumnus didn’t even choose to move into
a remotely similar field. His passion, as it turns out, is dance
and he’s been doing so ever since this realization.

“I started dancing in 1991 while I was in college, so I never
did any dancing before,” said Acker. “In fact, I played a lot of
sports (…) so if you had asked me if I was going to be on a dance
team I would have laughed at you,” said Acker. “It was quite a
career change for me.”

Acker’s dedication to dance is evident in the fact that he
started up the Cal Poly Ballroom Dance Company a quarter after he
began working on campus. The company, which currently consists of
about 36 dancers, will be hosting a concert at the University
Theatre in early April. The program will feature routines of
various ballroom styles such as Latin and swing numbers, all of
which will be choreographed by Acker.

As for the marathon, Acker is once again opting not to follow
any traditional pre-marathon training and is electing to use
dancing and his elliptical machine as his methods of

“I think this is one place that dance has really been good for
me,” said Acker. “It really teaches you how to be in tune with your
body and I think when I’m running the marathon what I’m really
thinking of doing is being very efficient with my movement and
taking care of myself.”

Acker and his unconventional preparation methods were recently
featured on the KNBC channel 4 news as part of the station’s
“Marathon XXII Headlines.” Acker was selected by the station as a
featured athlete after replying to an e-mail from the event
coordinators soliciting participant stories.

“I was a little surprised [that they chose me],” said Acker.

Although there is prize money on the line for the winner of the
race, what will matter most on March 4, as Acker and a few other
thousand athletes embark on their 26.2-mile journey through the
heart of Downtown Los Angeles, are the individual stories of each
and every participant.

It is hearing these stories that will inspire future generations
to participate in the L.A. Marathon.

“I always wanted to [run the L.A. Marathon], so it was good to
finally accomplish that goal,” said Acker. “It’s very much a
personal thing.”

Esperanza Juarez can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (909) 869-3747.

Professor Takes Steps in Marathon

Professor Takes Steps in Marathon

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