Hundreds of marathon runners outfitted in bright shirts and shorts lighted up downtown Los Angeles early Sunday morning as friends and family members shouted, waved encouraging signs, guided them to water and urged them to keep going.
Maria Perez and her family made it to the sidelines just five minutes before runner Coco Vasquez passed them. When the smiling woman saw her relatives jumping up and down, she ran over to hug all six of them before taking off again down the street.
Perez, 53, said this is the second time she has watched her sister run Los Angeles' big race. She and her sister, Susie Gamboa, 39, brought their children, who stood with handmade signs that read "Go Tia Coco! Keep on going!"
Several groups of family members were scattered along the race route, Perez said. With a family of seven sisters and two brothers, Coco Vasquez's fan club will get her through the race, she said.
The sisters are to participate together in the Revlon Walk for breast cancer later this year, in support of family and friends they have lost to the disease. Their group grows each time they do the walk, and this one will be the biggest, Perez said.
Vicki Lane, 60, was decked out in a bright pink shirt and sequined hat as she waved a plastic clapper and sign, urging runners on. Lane said she was waiting for her son, who would help push his best friend's wheelchair in their first marathon together.
The two have been seriously training for about six months, she said: Chris Meyer, 32, pedaling with his arms and Ryan Lane, 31, supporting from behind the wheelchair family and friends helped buy.
She said she's cheered for her son through the heat and the cold in all six marathons he has previously run, but that she still gets a knot in her stomach every time. This one will be special, she said.
Meyer has a damaged nervous system, and completing his first marathon will be a great team effort for the pair, who have been best friends since kindergarten, she said.
"Even though the disease is getting to him, he's not going to sit down and let it take him," she said.
The Chino Hills resident jumped and ran into the street when her son approached, cheering and urging them to keep going. She quickly helped fill cups at the fast-depleted water station nearby, before she and best friend, Claudia Kidmy, 45, moved on.
Next stop, Hollywood.