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March 21, 2011

The LA Marathon, Monsoon Rain, Kindness of Strangers and Beit T’Shuvah

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/the_la_marathon_monsoon_rain_kindness_of_strangers_and_beit_tshuvah_2011032/

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Sunday was the Los Angeles Marathon.  It was also the day that a monsoon hit LA.  It did not stop raining all day and we’re not talking about a little bit of rain here.  It was a torrential downpour of rain, with vicious wind and serious cold.  At one point it actually felt like it was hailing.

I cannot imagine what it must be like to run that far, but add rain and cold to the mix and it’s enough to make the strongest person weak.  I arrived at mile 19 at 10:30 in the morning and after about 10 minutes I was done.  I seriously did not know how these people had been out there since 8:00.

I went to the marathon to support the runners of team Beit T’Shuvah.  BTS is both a residential treatment center and a full-service congregation offering religious services, holiday celebrations and study here in Los Angeles, and a temple that I frequent often.  Check them out here: Beit T’Shuvah

They were the only official Jewish charity participating in the marathon.  They were set up at mile 19 of the marathon route and let me just say, it was quite an impressive production.  They had a tent for sitting, a tent for eating and a full stage with a band.  Such a shame about the monsoon.

My friends Heather and Gini ran and I wanted to see them pass our check point so I bundled up and began the wait.  I am so glad I did.  The marathon was inspiring and the residents of Beit T’Shuvah who were there, were really remarkable and I was impressed with the entire day.

There was a blind man running with his guide, a man running while pushing another in a wheelchair, parents, children, grandparents, novices and professionals, and it was amazing.  There were several runners who made me cry as they passed by.

One woman, who was probably in her 60’s, stopped at our location and asked a young man if he could tie her shoelace.  He got down on the ground and tied her lace and her look of relief at not having to bend over after 19 miles was amazing.  He hugged her and she went on her way.

A group of residents stood in the rain for hours, high-fiving runners, yelling words of encouragement, and running along for a quick pep talk.  It was really something to see.  They did not huddle in the rain waiting for one of their own.  They embraced everyone.

It was a very special day.  I stayed for 3 hours and by the time I left was soaked to my bones, but left feeling warm and happy.  Heather and Gini completed the marathon and I am incredibly proud of them.  It is an incredible accomplishment and I am in awe of them both.

To everyone who completed the marathon, you have my respect and congratulations.  To those who started and were unable to finish, be proud of what you accomplished because it’s wonderful.  To the staff, volunteers and residents of Beit T’Shuvah, bravo on a job well done.

The city rallied together yesterday and people were kind.  To see the kindness of strangers on this level was really magical.  I felt connected to every runner and to the city as a whole.  Yesterday was a dark day in terms of the weather in Los Angeles, but a very bright day for it’s people.

We woke up today to sun, which is crazy.  The rain made it a hard day for the runners but in the end brought the city and her people together in a very special way. 2011 was the year of Monsoon Marathon and I was happy to be there.  To everyone, congratulations on keeping the faith.

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