L.A. Marathon: Volunteers give support, get inspiration

L.A. Marathon: Volunteers give support, get inspiration
Runners Justin Taeleifi, 28, left, and Jonathan Lim, 26, stop to catch their breath in Beverly Hills during the Los Angeles Marathon. (Samantha Schaefer / Los Angeles Times)

The cloudy morning was brightening, the pavement turning hot. The L.A. Marathon had been on for about four hours, and at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Crescent Drive in Beverly Hills – roughly the 16-mile mark – dozens of volunteers edged the course, eagerly bopping along with outstretched arms, handing water to passing runners.

A pair of Boy Scouts tossed water onto grateful race participants. A runner leaned her head back and spread her arms, letting the water hit her.


A beaming Jordyn Jackson, 13, handed out cups to loping marathoners. It can be a challenge, she said, because you have to pass the cups lightly and the timing has to be right.

Jackson and her cousins volunteered to support a friend running the race for the first time. They tried tracking her bib number, but thought they missed her.

"She came out of nowhere!" said Saamirah Abdul, 33.

Volunteering has been exciting and inspiring, said Samia Abdul, 28 -- calling out names to make runners smile, seeing the diversity of participants, even when someone grabs their cup.

"Everybody's doing it," Jackson said. "If they can push, I can push."

The women said they might give the race a shot next year.

Nearby, Jonathan Lim, 26, had stopped running so he could catch his breath and stretch for a moment, his sunflower costume a good match for the change in weather.

"I don't think anybody's looked at us and not smiled," said Justin Taeleifi, 28, also dressed as a sunflower for the occasion.

The marathon had been on Lim's bucket list and the costume, he said, had definitely helped him keep going.

As runners turned from Santa Monica Boulevard onto Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, they waved their hands at a camera whose image was projected onto a giant screen.

Joggers filled half of the road, passing darkened designer shops on one of Southern California's most famous streets. Tourists peered into store windows along with spectators and some sweaty runners.

One runner stopped to snap a selfie in front of a city sign.

"I'm taking this one slow and documenting it," she said as she ran off.

Near an orange blow-up arch marking mile 17 outside Burberry and Dior, Joel Schwartz stood cheering with his daughter, Isabel, 15.


They came out early to support the students at St. Ignatius in Highland Park participating in the Students Run L.A. Program.

"If you can run 26 miles, you can do anything," he said. "You see that and it's just amazing."


Twitter: @Sam_Schaefer