For some runners, life is a marathon

During last year's Los Angeles Marathon, Charles Delvalle was in a wheelchair, watching the marathon on television while recovering from a coma, unable to participate in the race he had been running since 1995. On Sunday, he was back on the course dressed as Uncle Fester, a character from the television show "The Addams Family," as he has over the past few years.

"This is my coming-back-to-life marathon," Delvalle said.

From elite runners who make a living running marathons, to ordinary people who run for a cause, a charity or for fun, the LA Marathon seemed to bring those who participated together.

Unlike Delvalle, who ran the marathon just for fun, Abigail Gregg had a more personal motivation for making the 26.2 mile trek across Los Angeles.

"I ran the marathon because 30-something years ago, my mother ran it," she said. "It was sort of one of those things. I was living in Los Angeles for four years. I was carrying on the tradition."

Sunday's marathon was Gregg's first, much like her mother, whose first marathon was in Los Angeles as well.

Julie Weiss, a Santa Monica native, is a mother herself. On Sunday, she ran her 52nd marathon in as many weeks in an attempt to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer, an illness that ended her father's life in 2010.

"I knew that I needed to do something dramatic, something big, to make a difference, to spread awareness," said Weiss, who also has a full-time job as an accountant for a commercial real estate company.

Another runner who participated in the race for a cause was Christian Alvarado, a blind 27-year-old who lost his vision due to optic atrophy while in high school. He ran this year's marathon on behalf of the Fulfillment Fund, a charity that helps high school students do well in school and enter college.

"One of the reasons why I do it is to prove to the community that my blindness is not a disability; it's just an additional challenge that motivates me to accomplish all my goals," Alvarado said. "Anything is possible. There is nothing that can stop you except your mind."

Jeffrey Lemberger is two years sober, after having been addicted to drugs and alcohol for 10 years. He ran the marathon as a part of Team Beit T'Shuvah, a residential treatment center in Los Angeles.

"I've gained a sense of spirituality through running marathons," Lemberger said.

Lemberger said Sunday's race was his 10th in the past year. His goal is to run 20 by December. Larry Rosenblatt chose to run his 22nd marathon to raise funds for a family in need. Through his employer, Synchronoss Technologies, Rosenblatt ran to support the Everett family, whose four children, all under the age of 20, lost their parents during Hurricane Sandy. "This is a heartfelt tragedy," he said. "It touches all people." For runner Cesar Marquez, the marathon was more than just running a race. He proposed to his girlfriend, Miroslava Rojas, as she crossed the finish line. She said "yes."

The marathon started early Sunday morning at Dodger Stadium, with the wheelchair participants taking off at 6:55 a.m. Shortly after, the elite women runners began their 26.2-mile run, 18 minutes and 35 seconds ahead of the men.

The race ended on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, just blocks away from the Santa Monica Pier. Thousands of people gathered to meet their loved ones and cheered for runners as they crossed the finish line.

In her marathon debut, Aleksandra Duliba of Belarus came in first for the elite women with a time of 2:26:08, leading her to win the gender challenge. Erick Mose of Kenya won the men's race with a time of 2:09:44.

Merissa Weiland contributed to this report.

Alex VejarComment