As one of the more than 19,000 runners and racewalkers to compete in the 11th Los Angeles Marathon, I feel a sense of pride to have been part of the human thread that wove the city together for a few hours last Sunday. I shall not forget the hundreds of hands I touched along the way, each giving and receiving energy. Each face in the wonderful 26-mile-long cheering section--full of wonder and hope--seemed to say what was good about Los Angeles.
Residents from each neighborhood welcomed us, encouraged us, urged us on. Volunteers by the hundreds sustained us, kept all of us safe and relayed energy that helped us cross the finish line. Thanks to everyone, including the various sponsors, who organized and helped out with the marathon.
* Your March 4 article, which detailed the color of this year's marathon, truly captured the spirit of the event. For those who participated in the race or watched the festivities from the sidelines, it was second only to the 1984 Olympics in experiencing Los Angeles at its best.
From watching Muhammed Ali move through the crowds to cheers of "Ali! Ali! Ali!" to the wheelchair cyclists who make us appreciate the meaning of true grit, not to mention the incredible blend of people represented both in the race and along the streets, it was a day to be remembered. It embodied the physical and spiritual strength and the joyfulness that is the very essence of Los Angeles. Ours is clearly a community glued to- gether with guts, attitude and optimism.
Exec. Dir., New Los Angeles
* L.A. Marathon by bike:
The exhilaration began before dawn as we approached the city with its handsome skyline and glittering lights from the high-rise buildings. As an ocean of participants lined up along Hollywood Boulevard, hundreds of men and women from every ethnic group stretched and warmed up on the stars embedded in the sidewalks of this famous street. At 6 a.m. the starting gun went off, and a tremendous roar filled the morning sky as dozens of massive speakers blasted our city's unofficial anthem, "I Love L.A."
This intimate tour of the City of Angels included high speeds down Sunset Boulevard through Echo Park and Chinatown, where we broke to the south and continued down Figueroa to USC. Thousands of flag-waving supporters lined the streets of Exposition and then Crenshaw. We worked our way up Rossmore through Hancock Park; where the sweet smell of freshly cut grass and early spring blossoms inspired me to say out loud that I'd rather be here than anywhere else at this moment.
The ride was over much too quickly as we hit the finish line at Hollywood and Vine, where Mayor Richard Riordan greeted us. The sounds of gospel music appro- priately filled the Sunday morning air as could be accomplished only through the great spirituals performed by some of our local church choirs. They sang with a passion that was truly moving. I think I'll do this again next year.
* I know that I will be called a spoilsport for writing this letter, but here I go anyway.
The individuals who planned the marathon seem to have overlooked some things. Consider:
* Low-income people from the central city, who are dependent on public transportation to get to work, last Sunday found themselves having to walk up to a mile to make connections between buses on opposite sides of the marathon route, thereby ending up late to work.
* Handicapped access: I met a man on the outside perimeter of the race who had to wait several hours for a bus with sufficient room to accommodate his wheelchair.
* Elderly people who may have wanted to go to church found themselves unable to do so because their church was on the other side of the route, etc.
That Greek soldier who collapsed and died after running the first marathon must be spinning in his grave.
DANIEL A. SMITH