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 world.
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.”