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.


Art Walk: Not just for artists

Babak explains the meaning of his art to a potential buyer during the Downtown L.A. Art Walk on Dec 13, 2012 in downtown, Los Angeles.

Babak explains the meaning of his art to a potential buyer during the Downtown L.A. Art Walk on Dec 13, 2012 in downtown, Los Angeles.

On a chilly night in downtown Los Angeles, with a little more commotion than usual, patrons could browse the local stores, restaurants and galleries displaying art from all over the world.

Art Walk has been a monthly staple of Los Angeles for many years, and on Thursday, with nearly 50 different galleries, there was enough to see to satisfy anyone’s inner art lover.

On display were not only traditional paintings, but creations in all types of mediums, including digital art manipulated by a printer, various illustrations and a sculpture of what Taylor Swift would look like if she were a zombie.

One of the most unique pieces was a row of inflated balloons that hung on the ceiling of the GRspace gallery. The balloons changed shape, going from flat to crescent, while also changing colors. The work is called “Rafale” by AK Airways.

“When you look at it, it’s visually stunning,” said Gennie Rim, owner of the GRspace gallery. “It’s so big and immersive that you become part of the performance sculpture.”

Rachel Kassenbrock stated that she liked having something to interact with, and touched on just how special “Rafale” was to her.

“It’s not exactly what you see every Art Walk, so it’s nice,” she said.

The Hive gallery was another sight to see, with an eclectic array of art pieces and photographs, also utilizing various techniques. Among the artists was Preston C., creator of “Twisted Teddys.” His art features teddy bears portrayed in edgy situations, including a crucifixion.

“It was a way to address social issues using the iconic image of the teddy bear, which represents childhood innocence,” the artist said about his craft. “It shows that as we grow up and are exposed to different things, that innocence can be twisted, warped or perverted in many different ways.”

Art Walk is not only a place where enthusiasts can enjoy looking at artwork without having to pay a hefty museum cover charge, but it is also a place where budding artists can showcase and sell art of their own.

Victoria Ying and her husband Mike Yamata work at Disney and Dreamworks respectively doing feature animation. Last year, they started a side business called Extracurricular Activities in an effort to create “more personal work and share it with people.”

They have been selling their artwork at conventions such as Comicon and Comikaze. Thursday was the couple’s first time selling at Art Walk.

“We’re still testing out what kind of shows we do well at,” Ying said.

Fabian Pablo, a local Los Angeles artist, hopes to have his work displayed at Art Walk in the future. In the meantime, he spent his time at Art Walk admiring the work of others.

“I’ve seen really good quality work,” Pablo said. “A lot of artists are really nice, and they explain what their artwork is about and what’s behind it.”

The next installment of Art Walk is Jan. 10. Bring a sweater, a good friend and an open mind.

Downtown LA: Bruce Wayne’s New Batcave

Youngers pose with the Batman statue at the Dark Knight Legend exhibit on the Event Deck of LA Live in Downtown, Los Angeles. Photo by Alex Vejar

Youngers pose with the Batman statue at the Dark Knight Legend exhibit on the Event Deck of LA Live in Downtown, Los Angeles. Photo by Alex Vejar

Adam West. Michael Keaton. Val Kilmer. George Clooney. Christian Bale.

These actors have been in their fair share of movies and TV shows over the past few decades. But they all have one deep, dark secret.

They are all Batman.

On the Event Deck of L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles, a red carpet welcomes you to the “Dark Knight Legend” exhibit, consisting of three sections that display Batman-related memorabilia.

Music from the latest trilogy of Batman films sets the mood for the first section of the exhibit, which features artwork created by fans of the entire Batman series. The most notable attraction is a statue built with a familiar childhood staple.

“The thing that I noticed right away was the Catwoman made out of Legos,” says Gordon Holmes, who has been a fan of the Batman since 1966.

Two versions of the Batsuit, Bane’s intimidating mask and the Joker’s purple outfit are all accounted for in the second portion of the exhibit. These costumes and others on display were worn by the actors during filming, making them truly authentic.

Adding to the authenticity is the Batmobile showroom, the final and most awe-inspiring part of the exhibit. Cars from every stage of the Caped Crusader’s history are present, including the original 1950s version, which will be auctioned off in January. An eye-opening video about the evolution of the Batmobile helps viewers understand the origins of their favorite vehicles.

Holmes’ favorite Batmobile is the original from the Adam West television series.

“It’s sleek; it’s sharp; it still has the spirit of 50s automobiles,” Holmes said.

Christina Antuna prefers the most recent installment of Bruce Wayne’s alternate mode of transportation, the Tumbler.

“It has the most practical design for what it’s trying to accomplish,” Antuna says.

Rounding out the exhibit are other items related to the last three Batman films, including props, a miniature model of the Batcave and the nuclear reactor from “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Walking through this “Batmuseum” certainly induces feelings of childhood nostalgia, reminding us of the very first time we read a comic, watched a cartoon or experienced an IMAX movie about Batman. It may even help us remember the idea behind the mask.

“It’s good over evil,” Holmes says.

Antuna looks at Batman in more human terms.

“He doesn’t have any superpowers,” Antuna says. “He’s just a man who wanted to help people.”

The Dark Knight Legend Exhibit is open to the public from noon to 9 p.m. through Dec. 14, and is free of charge.