Is this a road race or a comedy club? Looking to boost the spirits of the approximately 25,000 runners pushing through the L.A. Marathon on Sunday, onlookers lining the route often leaned heavy on the humor.
Take Sean Nielson and his wife, Kim. Standing near the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue, he rang a cowbell and held a sign that read "Less Walken More Cowbell," a reference to a Christopher Walken skit on "Saturday Night Live."
A red-faced runner saw the sign, smiled and pulled out her iPhone for a picture. "My son's gonna love that!" she said. Moments later, a pair of runners shouted "More cowbells!" at Nielson, who promptly clanged his cowbell harder.
Meantime, his wife clutched another sign, this one adorned with images of "Downton Abbey" characters and reading, "I did a marathon last night so I know how you feel.”
The Glendale couple, both 45, said they were on hand to support three friends who were running the marathon. Though they had never been to the L.A. Marathon, they said, they'd supported their friends at other events in the past.
"My wife usually loses her voice by the end of the day," Sean Nielson said, as Kim cheered nearby.
In a bag, they had a sign ready to pull out when their friends made it to the intersection -- about 10 miles into the 26.2-mile race. "You aren't almost there," it read.
Rolando Medina, 22, was standing just before the 10-mile mark in Hollywood and holding a sign offering encouragement to his brother, Chato, who missed Medina as he ran by.
"I chased my brother because he didn't see me," Medina said, laughing, as he explained how he had to weave through the crowd with his sign to catch up with his brother.
Shortly before 10 a.m., Medina said he had yet to see his friend, Buzz, who was also participating in the marathon.
"It's his first marathon," he said. "He's just trying to finish."
When he does finish, Medina said, all three will probably spend some time relaxing on the beach in Santa Monica.
Meanwhile, Alvin Fong, 45, was on the lookout for his sister, who he dropped off in the morning at Dodger Stadium. He woke up at 4:45 a.m. and drove her from Los Feliz to the stadium, where the race began.
Fong, who is a runner himself, said he wants to run the Chicago Marathon. On Sunday, though, he was just out supporting his younger sister.
She's trying to beat a time of four hours, 25 minutes, he said. When asked if he thinks she can do it, he said quickly, "Yes!"
"On a great day like this," he added, looking up at the cloudless sky, "of course!"
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