“L.A. Marathon,” by Marion Eisenmann
Note: I’m reposting the artwork that Marion Eisenmann did for the Daily Mirror when it was with latimes.com. This entry is from last year’s L.A. Marathon. Marion will be giving monthly classes in plein air painting on Thursdays at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia.
Marion Eisenmann and I decided to try something different from our exploration of local landmarks by going to Santa Monica to see the finish of the 2010 L.A. Marathon. I found a good viewing spot at the base of a light pole on Ocean Avenue just beyond the finish line, while Marion looked for interesting images to combine in a collage of the race.
The shouts from the crowd, growing louder and closer, announced the arrival of each contestant. The first were the wheelchair competitors on their exotic vehicles, and next were the bicyclists.
As the seconds ticked away, the area behind the finish line filled with photographers, security officers, police and marathon workers, all of them anticipating the runners. Edna Kiplagat was mobbed by photographers after she finished. Then Teyba Naser and Silvia Skvortsova came in.
The shouting for Wesley Korir started a long way off and built until he crossed the finish line. Photographers and TV cameramen swarmed around him so that all I saw was his hand, reaching above them and pointing, not as a victory sign showing that he was first but as a symbol of his Christian faith.
I always think of hard-core runners as lean, hard and leathery; raw and wrinkled from the sun with veins bulging like strands of rope under their skin. These elite African runners are nothing like that. Korir is a slight fellow, rather small and finely proportioned. I wouldn’t call him delicate, but you would never mistake him for someone who spends hours at the gym.
In the same way, the top two women, Kiplagat and Naser, were small and slight, and if you were to see Naser in a swimsuit at the beach, you might mistake her for a college student who goes running a few times a week. Only Skvortsova, with thick, muscled legs, looks more like my traditional idea of a runner.
After congratulating each other and giving a few TV interviews, Korir and Kiplagat were chauffeured away in motorized carts, along with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Although Marion originally thought of combining different visual elements like the Santa Monica Pier, sketches of the crowd and the runners, she settled on Korir crossing the finish line.
Note: In case you just tuned in, Marion and I are roaming Los Angeles in a project inspired by Joe Seewerker and Charles Owens’ Nuestro Pueblo.
Anyone who’s interested in Marion’s artwork should contact her directly.