No one can grasp the concept of 26.2 miles until we have run it. Emotions reach the breaking point, when we see and finally enter the finish line. We cross that 26.2 mile marker after having spent the morning on the road, and we see the volunteers who hold out our medal and congratulate us. Some of us can barely focus, others are in shock and elated at the same time, we cannot possibly articulate how we feel in that moment. I know because today I have looked at the LA Marathon from both sides, as a runner and finisher last year and as LA Marathon Ambassador and medal volunteer this year.
The first wheelchair competitors crossed the finish line after 1 hour and 23 minutes. These are men and women who lost a limb and were told they would never be able to run again. And, here they are: Faster and stronger than ever. Over the course of the next three hours my cellphone timely updated me of the progress of 26 people, special and very dear to me in my heart. I nervously swiped across the messages, praying for the safety of all of them. Alvaro was the first to cross at 3 hours and 12 minutes. Words cannot possibly describe how I felt in that moment. Relief, gratitude, love, happiness, respect and pride -- the emotions overcame me all at once, as Alvaro rushed over to hug me. I didn’t want to let him go. Then they all came, one by one, Eduardo, Liz, Kevin, Michael, Brad, Jon . . . all exhausted, but alive and well. And I gave them their finisher medal -- what a honor to know these remarkable individuals I have the privilege to call my friends.
Ten hours of placing medals around necks, taking four to six seconds for each medal, and complying with picture, tight bear hugs and even some kisses on cheeks requests: After 26.2 miles these astonishing runners deserved it, and I am so proud of every single one of them. Congrats, LA Marathoners, you did it -- and it was truly a privilege sharing this moment with you!