Toky Photography

The Spirit of the Marathon

Posted in If life gives you lemons, New Work, Photo Essay, Toky Photography, Wonderful Machine by tokyphotography on March 22, 2010

25th Annual Los Angeles Marathon. Photo essay from a runner’s point of view.

Arriving at Dodger Stadium at 6am

Huge lines at the portable restrooms. Stood in line from 6:10 am to 7:20 am

Elvis... or Elvises....


Waiting to start. Marathon delayed because people were still arriving past 7:20 am due to traffic

Ready to start!!!!

While it's a good idea to use a water belt to stay hydrated, water and Powerade are always available on the course every other mile starting on mile 3.

Runners are as diverse as the habitants of L.A.

A "landmark every mile" in the new Stadium to Sea course is one of the big appeals of this year's run

There is a guy inside the "PedEx" box. He ran the entire marathon inside that box.


Finally, the Marathon starts. With 26,000 runners it can take a while to cross the start line. Each runner wears a chip (embedded on their bibs) that starts your time only after you actually cross the start line

Another Elvis

It's barely mile 0.5!

Mile 1. One loop around the stadium equals one mile. If you think about it, we can just circle the stadium 26 times and make this much easier for everyone!

Finally leaving the stadium

Mile 2 already? Things sure go fast when you are excited. Hope it lasts.

Heading towards Downtown Los Angeles

On the first couple of miles is tough to pass people. The crowd sort of pulls you and you go with it.

Mile 3 through Chinatown and about to go into La Plazita Olvera.

First "official" water station at Mile 3. As the miles progress the amount of cups increases. Most water stations slow you down as everyone reduces their pace to pick some water and make sure not to slip

This is the worst hill of the entire run. You must psych yourself for it. Repeat to self: "HILLS ARE SEXY"

A landmark every mile. The Disney Concert Hall sits at the top of the hill.

The view from the top

Another mile, another landmark. The Music Center/Dorothy Chandler Pavillion/Ahmanson Theater.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

Still packed

When you reach miles that seem "symbolic" you start saying to yourself things like this: "I only have left to run 4 times what I already did + 1.2"

Another landmark: Echo Park

Mile 6 is the first on Sunset Boulevard.

If you can, hold it! Standing in line will slow you down for a good 10-15 minutes. As the race progresses lines are shorter and shorter.

Right after mile 7, is your first sight of the HOLLYWOOD sign and The Observatory

With a healing broken leg, this guy was moving faster than most runners. You could just tell he has done this a lot of times and a recent accident was not going to stop him this year.

Almost in Hollywood. A group from the Aids Marathon Group cheers for their runners.

Entering the Hollywood District. The Pantages Theater.

Mile 11: Hollywood & Highland

It's good to look back and know they are a lot of people behind you. At least you are not the last one!

Landmark: Chinese Theater



Mile 12. Back to Sunset and "The Rock Walk"

Also mile 12 marks the start of injury sightings...

Well said!

Their other sign said "If you are reading this, you are going to slow"... Oops! I'm trying!

One of the most inspiring things of the Marathon is all the groups that run for different causes. So many of the runners fundraise, sometimes up to thousands of dollars, to support a cause that has affected them or they believe in. Sometimes a Marathon is more than just a Marathon.

Volunteers rock as much as runners!

No matter their age, they are there all day long. Some of the groups came from nearby churches that cancelled their Sunday morning masses due to traffic and instead organized "Marathon of Service", encouraging their members to volunteer at the Marathon (or other worthy causes on this day)

Runner down!!!

On this, my 3rd Marathon, I really noticed the importance of having a "Marathon buddy. You push me, I push you.

This mural is always there. I just thought it was neat that the route was in front of it.

"La bandera y el sombrero" Viva Mexico!

Another landmark. The Pacific Design Center. Now entering West Hollywood.

Representin' as well....

I think that guy is one of my friends but I'm not sure....

From Wikipedia: "The term Legacy runners is defined as runners that have completed all of the Los Angeles Marathons. Only runners that have toed the start line on each and every race day and completed the entire course on race day, qualify as official Legacy Runners. Their numbers decrease year by year but there remains a group that is approximately 10 times larger than that of any other major marathon."

Food supplies from the sidelines start to dwindle after the midpoint. The faster runners have taken most of it. A very sweet lady was waiting for her peeps with snacks. She just had a couple and was saving them for the people she was cheering for. She saw my eyes staring at a banana and she told me to come get one 🙂 (thanks lady!)

Now entering Beverly Hills

Again, I can't say enough good things about volunteers. From all walks of life. If ever I'm in a city with a Marathon happening, and I'm not a runner, I will for sure volunteer. I feel like I owe that now.

If we decorate our cars engines, why not decorate our running engines as well?

These guys are barefoot!!! (and not the only ones I might add)

Next landmark: Rodeo Drive

Go Stephanie!

Endeavor to persevere

It's easy to forget to let your body run as you trained it. You are so excited and there's so much going around.... you start thinking too much. Reminders are nice.

Less than 10 miles to go! Wilshire Blvd.

All the fluorescent green shirts you see on the photos are students. Students Run Los Angeles is one of many organizations that encourage students to run, be healthier, and stay out of trouble. Their fee is waived and they are provided with free shoes and running gear. An amazing organization. Look them up.

Lots of gents (and ladies) that have completed Ironman races use Marathon to train.


Turning to look back, just past Mile 18.

Dear Fireman, please don't spray me with water. I am holding a $3,000 camera. Thanks.

These little orange boxes is what keeps track of your timing

So you always want to make sure you don't skip any. Some are placed randomly throughout the course to make sure you don't cheat and skip any miles.

So close you can almost taste it!

Another landmark: The Mormon Temple on Santa Monica Blvd.

Your loved one. The ultimate running buddy.

You can't help but smile and honor those runners who are doing this for bigger reasons.

Mile 20. The Veteran's complex on Wilshire. That place is HUGE! You go through an entire mile in there.

I don't know the statistics but I would say about half of the runners are doing a full marathon for the first time.

Right now, I do too. Thanks to this amazing course!

While the 22 should be a sign of relief, sometimes is a sign of despair. 4 more miles? Seems not doable .

Clever guy

That helps too.

First sign of finishers coming back. We must be close!

This just seems impossible to me. But clearly it's not.

Different people. Different reasons. All valid.

Am I dreaming?

That hazy palm tree is the beach. Woo-hoo!!!!

For me, the last mile is the best and easiest mile. It's a religious experience. You have nothing left. No energy, no stamina, no nothing. So you talk to God, The Universe, or whatever higher power you believe in, and you make a pact. You are going to be helped. And it happens. Trust me.

Ocean Blvd. Straight line to the Finish Line!

Certainly, do not give up now!

.2 Miles to go

The finish line was crowded. And apparently a dog ran the marathon!

That's me, crossing! Dear God; THANK YOU.

That medal has my name written all over it. "Come to papa!"

Way to go dude!

There is another "mile" after the finish line that no one tells you about. Looks like a triage area and if you can still walk, people scream at you to "keep walking"

The whole thing actually does end at the Pier. I thought they were just saying that.

This is the area where I chose to collapse

And that's me with my medal.

About this photo essay:

This year marked my 3rd consecutive LA Marathon. The first time, the only goal was to finish. On the second and 3rd time, the goal was to improve my time from the previous year.

Around November I became a vegetarian. My body seems to only be able to run 13-16 miles on non-animal protein and about a quarter of the sugar I used to eat. Added to that, for some reason, the day before the marathon I wasn’t hungry at all. I knew all things were pointing to low energy and therefore my goal time wouldn’t be achieved. I decided to run/walk instead and document the run. This photo essay is the end result.


63 Responses

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  1. Nina Jack said, on March 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    WOW! @bfrein just posted a link to this on twitter and I am so glad I saw it….this is incredible and a great photo essay. You really captured the spirit and every mile exactly. I tried to take a photo early on and quickly decided I didn’t have to patience to do it so THANK YOU for this…I have it bookmarked and will share with many. Congratulations on your marathon!!

  2. Ned Daly said, on March 22, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Thank you for the great pictures! I’m heading back to Virginia but will share your photos with friends to give them a good depiction for our day at the LA Marathon!

  3. Miki Reynolds said, on March 22, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    So amazing to relive through your photos! I saw @LAMarathon retweet @bfrein’s link, and so glad to have seen it. You captured everything that I remembered…and somethings I didn’t even see! Congrats on #3 for you!

  4. Van said, on March 22, 2010 at 5:09 pm


  5. alo said, on March 22, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Very nice, loved your photos and congrats on your finish, Inspired me : )

  6. Jay said, on March 22, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    phenomenal photos.. I was at mile 26 to catch some nice shots of my wife running the LA Marathon. Inspiring photos and captions.. THANKS!

  7. Ravi said, on March 22, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Nice work. Great job with the pictures and commentary!

  8. Jenny Yew said, on March 22, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful pictures. I’m forwarding this to all my friends to inspire them to run their first marathon with me. You are awesome. You truly have a gift.

  9. Melinda said, on March 22, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    GOOD JOB! Congrats!

  10. Melinda said, on March 22, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    And yes, the pictures are AMAZING….

  11. Bob said, on March 22, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    I have set a goal for myself to complete a marathon this year, some time… getting going and building a base of strength and stamina is difficult. I can’t stick to training just through discipline. This essay was inspiring… makes me want to leave my office and run a couple of miles.

  12. Harriet said, on March 22, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    WOW! Great pictures! I will be sending this link to family and friends who want to know what my race was like. (Although I was about two hours behind you, and to my dismay, there was not so much as a drop of Powerade after mile 2. I’m sure the faster runners needed it, but I would have given my right kidney for some electrolytes around mile 10. 🙂

    Thanks for the great pictures!

  13. Ellen said, on March 22, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    I ran the marathon and only saw a portion of what you captured. These can now be some of my memories.


  14. Isabel said, on March 23, 2010 at 12:24 am

    I loved it! It almost made me cry!

  15. Nancy said, on March 23, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Thank you for the great pictures!!! They are amazing!

  16. Ramasubramaniyan said, on March 23, 2010 at 4:30 am

    Nice photos and captions!

  17. Santosh K Mishra said, on March 23, 2010 at 6:33 am

    Great pictures! I will be sending this link to family and friends

  18. Meena said, on March 23, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Ravi, came to know about your run and your commentary though a friend of mine.
    This is really awesome and your photos were fantastic.
    I almost felt like I ran with you..
    Truly inspiring and I am going to take up running.. now. Btw am 37.
    I think i can and will do.
    Cheers to you.

  19. Navin said, on March 23, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Great way of capturing a marathon story. Way to go! And congratulations on your 3rd marathon. May you have plenty more to finish the line!

  20. Peter Abraham said, on March 23, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Incredible! Just a fantastic tour of the event. Really inspiring, and thank you for putting this together.

    Peter Abraham
    Creative Director
    Los Angeles Marathon

  21. […] the Marathon becomes more personal and relevant to everyone. Witness this beautiful photo essay by Looking at these made me feel like I was right there in the middle of the pack. Thank you for this […]

  22. Lawrence Gilliam said, on March 23, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your journey. This was my 7th LA Marathon and your photo essay provides great memories.

  23. Rick said, on March 23, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Toky, thank you for your wonderful photos and perspective from the marathon. I had these images burned in my brain, but it’s awesome to see them so crisp in your images and relive them all over again. AWESOME!

  24. Rana said, on March 23, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    This is wonderful… Congradulations!!! You made it… Love the photos, Too bad I didn`t ger to see you !!!! It was very inspiring :-)))

  25. FredEx said, on March 23, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    Very nice photo essay! Good job! It was such a tough run but we made it! I didn’t imagine all the emotions I would go through!

  26. […] recap of the race, the crowd support, and the course itself, check out this entry.  Also, this entry has a neat photo recap of the course and crowd.  Lastly, this super cool site lets you see how I […]

  27. Raciel said, on March 24, 2010 at 1:26 am

    Congratulations on finishing and a job well done on the beautiful photo essay!

  28. Frances said, on March 24, 2010 at 3:25 am

    Nice job on your photo essay. I appreciate someone experiencing (and thinking) the same things I did along the route. Thanks for sharing!

  29. Vishesh said, on March 24, 2010 at 6:38 am

    I have never run a marathon, but seems like a joy of lifetime. thanks for this photo essay.

  30. Gautam said, on March 24, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Congratulations for finishing the run. And thanks for sharing such awesome pictures. 🙂

  31. Lisa said, on March 24, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    I loved your pics! I had a great race and was feeling a bit down since it’s all over now. Seeing the day through your pictures really allowed me to relive the day. You captured it all! Thanks so much! – Lisa

  32. AK said, on March 24, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Very cool that you happened to capture my friend Pat Devita — the legacy runner at mile 20. FYI…she’s the oldest legacy runner at age 76, and managed to also win her age group this year.

  33. RETHA said, on March 24, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this i’ve miss a lot of stuff guess i just looked down and run from mile to mile, awesome!

  34. Chereen Langrill said, on March 24, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful images. I loved re-living the marathon through your eyes, and it was so fun to show my husband what the course was like. You have done an amazing thing. Thank you for sharing this with all of us! See you out there on the course someday!

  35. Vic Kurd said, on March 24, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    I did not run it but I felt like I was there (with out all the pian)…. Next year

    Thank you for all the greeat pix and commentary …

  36. heidi said, on March 25, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Fantastic photo essay! I did not run this event but just finished a marathon recently and had friends on the course with you. You truly captured the marathon experience.

  37. Mary Lou said, on March 25, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Awesome photo essay! I’ve done this marathon 3x as well and sat out this one due to a calf injury. Saving myself for NYC, November 7th. I was cheering in Hollywood. Way to go!

  38. Danica said, on March 25, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Thanks for sharing these pictures with us! Great job out there. I totally loved re-living sunday on this post!

  39. Lonnie J. Harris said, on March 25, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Incredible!!! I just relived the entire MarathonExperience of 03/21/10 watching these very clear beautiful photos.

    Thank You TOKY

  40. SC said, on March 25, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Well, I have to wish that you could have met your original goal – BUT, Wow! Am I happy that you did the photo documentary instead. Thank you for several minutes of memory and fun.
    Your comments about the wonderful diversity of the marathon are spot-on. I have done all 25 of them (one of those Legacy people) and have always used the reality of the wonderful way all these different people treat each other to measure real hope for humans getting along, despite seemingly big differences.

    Thank you again, and best wishes to you for your future runs.

  41. abbieruns said, on March 26, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Thank you so much for taking these amazing photos and sharing them with the world. This was my first marathon, and I was just lamenting how I failed to notice or remember a lot of the scenery. Your photo essay reminded me of so many little things and faces and signs I’d forgotten. Can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it!

  42. Beth bowles said, on March 26, 2010 at 1:20 am

    Stellar job my man. Glad you listened to your body and documented the event so well for those like me who wished they could have been there. I used to live right off Ocean at Washington in SM and miss it so. Next year I’ll come to just cheer you all on. It doesn’t look worth the hassle for me, but it’s definately a day to remember if you did it like you.

  43. Dee said, on March 26, 2010 at 4:22 am

    This was awesome, I loved looking back @ the LA Marathon!:):) Those sweet memories… really!:):) Thanks so much for putting this together! & CONGRATS for being a vegetarian & for completing your 3rd marathon (it was my 3rd one too)!:):)

  44. Monick said, on March 26, 2010 at 5:34 am

    This was awesome! I ran on Sunday too and your pictures really captured the moments. Absolutely beautiful!

    P.S. I had a similar plan. I brought my camera too, but I could only handle running the race. I didn’t have the mental energy to document as well. So thumbs up!

  45. Legacy "DAN" #10219 said, on March 26, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    As this was my 40th marathon and of course my 25th LA Marathon, and as a SRLA assistant marathon leader, as a runner you tend to get into mental zone, you are attempting to blank out the negative feelings of “pain” & “feeling sorry for yourself”, and doubts of finishing the task at hand. Your picture essay brought back many memories of past LA Marathon events and why the LA Marathon is truly a PEOPLE’S event. As with the SRLA program, it is the setting of goals that is important – the goal being to “FINISH” – As a LA Legacy Runner – the goal is to “FINISH”, and it’s achieved one step at a time. Your pictures surly represented all these steps taken my those finishers (new & old runners/walkers), and the supporting “volunteers” (young & old), that makes the LA Marathon a true “PEOPLE’S EVENT” for the greater Los Angles area.

  46. Ed "Fancy Pants" Ettinghausen said, on March 27, 2010 at 2:40 am

    WOW . . . AWESOME!!! You truly captured “The Spirit of the Marathon” with your crisp photos and great commentary. Your loss in not getting your goal time, and instead putting your energy into capturing the essence of the marathon is a great gift to the rest of us who did the marathon, and until now, only had the quickly fading images in our minds to remember this cool event. Thank you. The L A Marathon organization would be wise to use your photo-journal in their future marketing for the new “Stadium to the Sea” route.
    BTW, I’m the guy you captured, just before mile 8, with the “broken leg” (it’s actually a stress fracture, so it wasn’t as bad as it looks). That was my 44th marathon, so you’re right, I’ve done it a couple of times. And the two guys running barefoot – those guys are local legends Barefoot Ken-Bob Saxton & Barefoot Todd Byers. These two guys have been “walking the talk” about barefoot running way before it was the newest, coolest trend in running.
    My marathon buddy JC forwarded your link to me, and I’m going to pass it along to all my other marathon friends. You’ve also inspired me to start taking pictures at my marathons – although you’ve set the bar so high, that I’m kind of embarassed to show up at the marathon with a camera, but I guess it’s like doing the marathon . . . we all have our own motivations, and everyone’s experience is unique and special to them.
    Once again, thank you so much. You truly have a gift!

  47. Victor L said, on March 27, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Congratulations… great job on the marathon and thanks for taking the time to document everything.. it’s great to have everyone see what an actual runner goes through =)

  48. Pat & joan Connelly said, on March 28, 2010 at 2:01 am

    That was terrific…..Feel like I ran with you all the way…..Congratulations

    Coach Pat Connelly

  49. Jenifer said, on March 29, 2010 at 2:09 am

    Hey there! A friend told me about your site, cause I’m in a couple of your pics! 🙂 I’m the one with the “Distance Matters; Speed is Optional” sign on. That’s been my motto for the last 3 years. I’m slow, but I finish! This was my 2nd LA Marathon, and 5th marathon overall. It was an awesome course!

  50. Madison said, on April 8, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    This is beautiful! Thank you for sharing! Beings me right back to the course just looking at these photos.

  51. Iris said, on April 9, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Wow!! Love your pics & especially love that I was in one of them (mile 24!) THANKS SO MUCH FOR POSTING 🙂

  52. […] On my last LA Marathon back in March, I decided to take my camera with me and do a photo essay (see that post here). I posted it on my blog and tweeted about  it. Over the next few days my photo essay was seen by […]

  53. sal torres said, on August 13, 2010 at 6:20 am

    the marathon is an addiction!!! but my problem is I do not remember anything after the race, because I’m more interested in my PR. I was at san francisco and took the time to look around and meet some of the crazy aliens that were there. I’d like to know if you can put together a pix wall for others to see and maybe get connected through facebook, e-mail etc. I met people from different places and that was exciting. NEXT STOP?????? LONG BEACH CYAWLL.

  54. […] San Francisco Marathon… this Sunday. Posted in If life gives you lemons, Photo Essay, Toky Photography by tokyphotography on July 23, 2010 Make sure you stop by the blog this Sunday/Monday for a full report & photo essay from San Francisco. I’m doing another photo essay like the one I did back in March for the LA Marathon (check that one out here). […]

  55. jackie said, on November 17, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Awesome documentary! I will be doing my first half in Vegas in a few weeks, it makes me want to photograph the highlights as well!

  56. Melinda said, on March 8, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Of all the participants, you captured my training team SOAR after mile 11! How cool! SOAR standards for Students off and Running and trains at-risk kids in the Santa Clarita valley to run a marathon. It’s a great cause and thank you for the great photo of the shirt!

  57. Paul said, on March 9, 2011 at 12:59 am

    I’m running my first marathon at the LA Marathon in less than two weeks am nervous as hell. The photo essay you’ve done really helps illustrate all I have to look forward to and be ready for…thank you!

  58. Maricela Escobedo said, on March 9, 2011 at 1:50 am

    Thank you soooo very much for deciding to walk/run and give us “aspiring” marathoners an inside glipse as to what to expect! You have no idea how much more you have inspired me and motivated me to run the marathon. I have never in my entire life ran an entire mile without walking… and I’m thinking back all the way to 4th grade. But this year I have decided to do the 2012 L.A. marathon. So I have about a year to loose tons of weight and train for it, but your photo essay has definitely pumped me up even more!!! I have my first 5K in a month and I’m soooo looking forward to turning my first 5K into my 1st marathon and then my next and next and just keep doing this the rest of my life. you’re awesome!

  59. Alex said, on March 9, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!

  60. Oliver said, on March 13, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    that was wonderful, thank you! I’m so excited for next weekend, my second marathon, but first time doing LA.

  61. daniel said, on March 14, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Thank you for this! The unknown seems less so and I feel I can plan better!

  62. manuel garcia borbon said, on March 8, 2012 at 1:41 am


  63. Msdh said, on June 17, 2012 at 5:55 am

    Thank you soooooooo much for your beautiful, thorough, and insightful work. I never comment online but I was absolutely compelled to do so with your work. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

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