Just after 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Melissa Quintero, 21, curled up in a folding chair on Silver Lake Boulevard.
Her sister Alison, 15, was running the Los Angeles Marathon for the first time. Quintero planned to make multiple stops along the 26.2-mile route to watch her jog by. Silver Lake was the first.
“We’ll scream,” Quintero said in anticipation.
More than 24,000 people took to the streets Sunday for the 34th Los Angeles Marathon, supported by cheering fans, friends and family members gathered along the course that stretched from Dodger Stadium near downtown to the beach in Santa Monica.
As thousands of runners coursed down Sunset Boulevard, spectators clapped and cheered, some banging noisemakers and waving colorful signs. Runners raked the sidelines with their eyes as they passed, waving in delight and recognition when they saw family and friends.
Shortly after 8:45 a.m., a group of runners wearing purple shirts that said “Team Chrissy” paused to take a group photo with their family on Sunset. The group was running to honor their relative Christiana Duarte, who was shot and killed at a Las Vegas country music festival in 2017, the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
Duarte, who was 22 when she died, grew up in Redondo Beach and worked for the Kings hockey team. Her family has run two L.A. Marathons to honor her memory.
“Almost everyone has been touched by a mass shooting,” said Camilla Duarte-Brannstrom, whose partner was running, her voice choked with emotion. “You don’t think you will be until you are.”
At Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, Arielle Miller-Cohen stood waiting and watching, wearing a sign that read, “My husband runs for scleroderma, ask me about it.”
Two years ago, Greg Cohen, a trainer for Equinox, was diagnosed with the disease, which involves the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues. Cohen has run the marathon twice since then, to raise awareness about the disease — something experts say is rare.
“He’s truly a fighter,” said Peggy Hickman, a board member of the Scleroderma Foundation. She stood in a group wearing white T-shirts and holding signs with a photo of Cohen.
Across the street, in front of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, runners snatched paper cups filled with water as spectators cheered. One waved a sign that read, “Get to that finish line, Sheila, the beer won’t stay cold forever!”
“When you come to see the marathon, you come to see the best in all of us,” said Andy Acosta, who left his Glendale home around 5 a.m. to support a Ralphs coworker. “This is L.A. at its finest.”
Outside of the El Capitan Theatre, David Fletcher, 42, waited with his two children — James, 4, and Rory, 6 — for their mother, Brenda, who was running her first marathon. The children clutched homemade signs that cheered on their mom in English and Spanish.
“I wanted to be funny,” Fletcher said, holding up his own sign. It read: “My arms are tired.”
Brenda stopped for a kiss and a photo.
“I love you!” Fletcher yelled.
“I love you!” she responded, as she rejoined the race.
As runners turned from Wilshire Boulevard onto Santa Monica in Beverly Hills, Gary and Dora Anderson waited for their 13-year-old son, Aiden, to race by just before 11:30 a.m. This was the 18-mile mark.
Gary’s neon-yellow sign read: “Aiden, Mom and Dad are so proud of you. See you @ the finish line.” Aiden’s little brother, 4-year-old Caleb — a redhead like his sibling — held a smaller sign that read “Go Aiden” and had a drawing of a boy with red hair.
“I got this so Aiden would come,” he muttered, waving his sign above his head.
Aiden, who goes to Los Nietos Middle School in Whittier, recently got into running and has been training since September, his parents said. His passion, they said, is all the more impressive because he has asthma.
“He’s blowing our minds right now,” Gary Anderson said.
Minutes later, the family stood up straight and faced the intersection. Amid shouts of “Aiden!” a lanky boy in a neon shirt ran toward them, clutching a bottle of juice. He hugged his parents and then kept running.
Watching her son head toward the finish line, Dora Anderson brushed tears from her cheek.
In his 50s, Linwood Bracey quit smoking and took up running. Now 78, he has run the L.A. Marathon nearly two dozen times. He wanted to race this year too, but had to sit out because of an injury.
But Bracey, who lives in Big Bear, showed up Sunday to cheer on his nephew Alex Williams, alongside his nephew’s wife, Gayle Williams. The couple, who live in Cerritos, became runners because of Bracey, she said.
“He motivated us all,” she said.
Around noon, Alex Williams, 62, approached his family, gathered near the 18-mile marker at Santa Monica Boulevard.
“I’m so proud of you,” Gayle told Alex as she embraced him and handed him orange slices and a banana. “You’re almost there, sweetheart.”
Bracey snapped a photo, telling Alex: “Only eight to go. I’d love to be alongside you.”
“Come on,” said Alex, gesturing to the road stretching ahead of them.
“Next year,” Bracey replied.
As the runners approached Mile 26, some were still smiling and waving. Others limped, or walked. One man bounced a basketball.
Over and over again, they heard the same welcome words as they ran along Ocean Boulevard in Santa Monica and approached the finish line: “You’re almost there.”
Cruz Alamillo and his wife waited nearby to catch a glimpse of their 17-year-old son, Andrew, who was running his first marathon. They had been following his progress all morning, stopping at Mile 2, Mile 13 and Mile 22 to cheer him on.
Around 1:30 p.m., his mother Gloria spotted Andrew and began cheering. Cruz banged a cowbell and yelled and cheered as he ran past and waved.
“He looks fresh,” Cruz said. “I’m very proud of him.”
At the finish line in Santa Monica, 63-year-old Frank Sosa took a moment to recover, sitting on the ground with his tennis shoes off, leaning against a chain-link fence. Sosa had survived another marathon — his 11th in L.A., his 19th overall.
He finished the race in 5 hours and 58 minutes, beating his time last year by one minute. After 26.2 miles, he said, even sitting down was hard. At first, his knees wouldn’t bend.
But he was already thinking about his next marathon in Long Beach.
“If you can do a marathon, you can do anything in life,” Sosa said. “You can tell yourself: ‘I finished a marathon, I can finish this.’”