Going the Distance

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

When she crossed the finish line at the Los Angeles Marathon on March 24, Mathilda Hveem was greeted by a familiar face—that of fellow international au pair Sarah Daly, who had just completed the race herself and wanted desperately to share the moment with her Cultural Care Au Pair comrade.

International au pairs Sarah Daly (left) and Mathilda Hveem wear their race medals proudly after running the Los Angeles Marathon in March. They are currently living in Pacific Palisades.
Photo courtesy of Jane Bisson

The two trained for the race together and in doing so formed a bond with each other and their Pacific Palisades host families that will last a lifetime.

An au pair is a young adult between the ages of 18-26 from another country who lives with an American family for up to two years through the U.S. Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program. Au pairs typically provide up to 45 hours of childcare per week while learning about American culture.

Daly, a 23-year-old from Essex, England, went to Loughborough University (two hours north of London) where she studied psychology for three years. She has been living in the Riviera since December 2017 and ran the scenic 26.2-mile course from Dodger Stadium to the Santa Monica Pier in four hours, 31 minutes and 50 seconds.

“The training was very difficult but so worth it,” Daly said in her distinct British accent. “I joined LA Roadrunners in January and we trained every Saturday morning in Venice. On Mile 20 I hit the wall and I needed to use the bathroom, which added a few minutes to my time, but I’m happy. My brother and sister flew from England to be there and my host family was so supportive. The twin boys ran the last mile with me and gave me that extra push I needed. I grabbed some water and my sister was tracking Mathilda on the LA Marathon App, so I got to see her finish. We were really overwhelmed!”

Hveem, a 21-year-old from Karlstad, Sweden, set a personal goal to finish in under five hours and she did just that with a clocking of 4:58:24.

“I played soccer all my life and thought it [marathon running] was just for elite athletes, but everyone can do it,” said Hveem, who volunteered with Cultural Care at last year’s LA Marathon at the water stand on Mile 24. “We didn’t decide to run this year until mid-August and started training together five days a week. We did a short run, a medium run and a long run, increasing the mileage every week and we ran the Pasadena Half-Marathon in January.”   

Hveem’s sister was an au pair before her in the Bay Area and inspired Mathilda to become one too.

“I came at the end of August 2017 so I’ve been here a year and seven months now and it’s been more than I could’ve ever imagined,” she said. “I’ve gone hiking in Temescal and Topanga Canyon, of course the beach, amusement parks like Disnleyland, Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain, sporting events like the Lakers, Dodgers, Kings and Galaxy and concerts… Justin Timberlake Wango Tango and Jingle Ball.”

Hveem is living in the El Medio Bluffs with the Lee Family, who have hosted au pairs from Sweden, Poland, Australia, Germany, Great Britain, Austria and Switzerland.

“We have embraced this program so fully—it’s helpful to have an extra set of hands but it’s like having another family member in our home,” host mom Jennifer said. “My husband [Jin] and I have four kids and each of them has a different relationship with the person staying with us… it’s an enriching experience for everyone. We learn some of their holiday customs and recipes, we keep in touch with them and a couple of them have even come back and visited us.”

Daly is living in the Riviera and her host mom Robyn Casady, one of the co-chairs of the Pacific Palisades Baseball Association’s Pancake Breakfast in March, is delighted with the bond her twin boys Ford and Boone (who play on the Mustang Cardinals) have with their adopted sibling.

“We were always interested in having a young person from another country come live with us,” Casady said. “She’s become their big sister and it’s so great to have someone around to help them with homework and do things with them outside. She gets to see baseball through their eyes. We went to London last summer and Sarah told us where to go. On the day of the marathon we walked up to San Vicente from our house, so the kids could run the last mile with her. They really wanted to do that.”

As for Daly and Hveem, their time in Pacific Palisades will soon be coming to an end, but their friendship will continue on.

“We live 10 minutes apart  so we’ve really gotten to know each other, spend time together, travel to places together… and it’s been fun for both of us,” Hveem said. “As far as the culture difference, one thing I’ve noticed is that Americans are more open. Here, you can be in the grocery store and start chatting with someone you’ve never met. Also, it’s much warmer. In Sweden it gets to 75 or 77 degrees in the summer, but nothing like here.”

The two awoke at 3 a.m. on race day to catch a shuttle bus to Dodger Stadium, separated at about 5 a.m. and didn’t reunite until the end of the race.

“What have I enjoyed most about living here? Everything!” Daly confessed. “Driving along PCH, going to Malibu, shopping in Beverly Hills, hiking up to the Hollywood sign was magical, going to see the Grand Canyon. People are more friendly here.”

She also plans to run another marathon when she returns to the United Kingdom.

“My sister did the London Marathon last year and is doing Paris this weekend,” she said. “I’m super competitive so I want to do one to catch her.”