There were a lot of things going on at the finish line of
the 2014 Asics L.A. Marathon. But one
of the least likely to get a lot of attention are the large number of folks
lined up just outside the finish line there to greet and help out the runners
when they make it across their final destination: the finish line.
These individuals like Madga Reyes, who has been coming out
to the 26.2 mile marathon, show up on the day of the race for one purpose and
that is to assist those broken by the trail of winding road as they push their
bodies and minds through one of the more grueling marathon race courses in the
The Asics L.A.
Marathon is so renowned that acclaimed distance runners like Gebo Burka (2:10:37)
and Amane Gobena (2: 27:37) -- winners in the men’s and women’s elite division,
come all the way from Ethiopia to compete. There were as many as 25,000 people who
participated in this year’s marathon, including wheelchair winners Joshua
George (1:33:11) and Susannah Scaroni (1:54:54).
The attraction of willing the mind and body to conquer over
26 miles is a lot for anyone to endure. This is why many people pass out,
faint, become disoriented and lose some intellectual functionality either
before or when they cross the finish line.
This is where the hot walkers like Reyes come into play.
What Reyes and other hot walkers do is provide physical assistance to keep the
runners from standing still once they do cross the finish line.
Volunteers and others
are in place to pass out food and liquidated beverage for the runners. That is
not the responsibility of the hot walkers. Reyes and other hot walkers are
instructed to pay attention to a runner’s movement and to move fast to assist
when people are falling apart physically and emotionally. There were quite of
few people hit hard by dehydration and early morning heat.
Some people rolled over when they got to the finish line.
Some collapsed. Yet still others walk around in a daze once they achieved what
they set out to accomplish. Reyes, who lost her ability to run for a couple of
years due to a car accident, uses this opportunity to volunteer at the annual
marathon as a way to help others.
"I just try to motivate people,” said Reyes, whose husband ran
in this year’s marathon race. “I get inspired. It’s inspiring to me. I get to
cheer. It’s a passion. It is something I
feel like I am giving back to the community.”
For Santa Monica College nursing student Jessica Mangum the
experience of being part of the Asics L.A. Marathon was surreal.
“I’m having a lot of fun,” Mangum said.
Alisha Simpson’s boyfriend ran the course. Simpson strongly supported the volunteerism
efforts by so many people to help out the runners.
“I support while he’s running,” Simpson said. "I like being a
service. Volunteering is right up my alley."
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