L.A. in Love: Running with Full Hearts

Marathoners share their passion for racing and each other

Nerves. They hit all brides and grooms. Especially when it comes to taking that first step down the aisle. In this case, said aisle was 10 miles long, the wedding party was upwards of 25,000 people and the betrothed wore matching bibs. Cheering from the sidelines were too many guests to count. The venue: the 2016 L.A. Marathon.

Coined the “Love Run,” this stop at mile 10 along the “Stadium to the Sea” course—a stage for couples who want to marry or renew their vows—was compliments of Universal Pictures promoting the upcoming release of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. More than 80 couples vied for an opportunity to get hitched on the corner of Hollywood and Vine. At the ready to do the honors were three ordained ministers from LA Wedding Woman.

Brian Salguero, 25, and Marisol Lopez, 23, seemed destined to get married with such theatrics. The young marathoners first laid eyes on each other at the finish line of the 2007 L.A. Marathon as participants in Students Run LA, a mentoring and physical fitness program for at-risk middle and high school students. Both were searching for other friends in the crowd and left the race with nothing more than a curious glance.

The second time they locked eyes was back in school. Hearing a pencil hit the floor, Brian bent to retrieve it, glancing up at its owner, Marisol. “It was her,” he says today, his voice still tempered with wonder. “I still think she dropped that pencil on purpose, though she says she was just being clumsy.”

A friendship bloomed, but their paths went in different directions after high school. Years later, a chance encounter at a soccer tournament made them reassess their friendship. They decided it was time to take a chance on love.

The sweethearts had already been training to run the L.A. Marathon together when news about the 10-mile-mark nuptials hit. Marisol, who is studying to be a surgical technician and Brian, a nurse, were unable to take time off for a traditional wedding. Coincidently, February 14 just happened to be Brian’s birthday. The L.A. Marathon provided the perfect trifecta: Valentine’s Day, a birthday, and now a wedding day.

Decked out in Star Wars running apparel (Marisol’s a huge fan), they became Mr. and Mrs. Salguero. After exchanging a kiss, they zoomed though a faux tunnel and were off running again…16.2 more miles, this time as husband and wife.

The 2016 L.A. Marathon featured over 20,000 finishers.  For the professionals, the day was about beating a time. The winning “couple” was Nataliya Lehonkova of Ukraine (she finished the race in about two and half hours) and Weldon Kirui of Kenya (he crossed the line in just over 2 hours and 13 minutes). Good for them. For amateur couples like the Salgueros, the race was about running together—on this special day, and for the rest of their lives.