San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Marathon 2014. Photo by Page Graham.

What do you do when a marathon runs through your neighborhood? Do you view it as a nuisance or an opportunity? Monte Vista resident David Flores decided to do it San Antonio style this year – turn it into a party.

Among his numerous avocations, Flores works as a DJ for hire. He thought it would be fun to put his talent – not to mention his 5,000-song collection – to good use. As runners made their way up the last of several hills between Trinity University and Monte Vista, they could hear his dance tunes all along the block.

What is his motivation? “I get to play what I want,” Flores said. Usually, it’s the client who makes the music picks.

“Last year,” he said, “it was just me with a wagon with my DJ equipment on it. Then I thought, why not turn it into a party?”

And so a tradition began. This year, about a dozen friends and family showed up with food and drink to share in the fun and cheer on the thousands and thousands of people riding, running, and walking past the Flores’ family home.

“This was a success,” Flores quipped, “There are a thousand percent more people here this year,” he said, adding that he hopes for even more next year.

Serving as the gathering’s head cheerleader was his friend Joanna Demoupoulis, who happened to be in town from Austin for the weekend. Despite a recent foot injury – not to mention five weeks in a wheelchair as a result – Demopoulis put on a dance marathon of her own. For a solid two hours, she stood by the side of the road, dancing and cheering on the endless parade of marathon participants.

The Flores family and friends were not alone. All along the parade route, people lined up to provide encouragement. Some held up homemade signs, with sayings that ranged from inspirational to witty. Among others, “Smile. You paid for this!” seemed to be a recurring theme.

DJ David Flores plays the music while Joanna Dempoulis dances and encourages marathon participants. Photo by Page Graham.
DJ David Flores played the music while Joanna Demoupoulis danced and encouraged marathon participants. Photo by Page Graham.

Along with the many bands staged along the route, other people provided unofficial musical entertainment. Whether it was the young girl playing violin in her front yard, or the duo playing guitar and banjo on North Main, everyone involved appreciated the music.

Wheelchair athletes were among the marathon vanguard. Photo by Page Graham.
Wheelchair athletes were among the marathon vanguard. Photo by Page Graham.

As a spectator, a marathon is not unlike a parade. The steady thrum of a police helicopter overhead signaled the impending start. First came the bicyclists – a motley assemblage of everyone from hardcore cyclists to those simply poking along, enjoying the cool Sunday morning air.

Then came a pause. A few motorcycle cops and ancillary vehicles rolled past. The sense of anticipation created a feeling of excitement. Everyone knew the professional runners would be along shortly. Then they appeared, with all their energy, striding past like gazelles, feet barely touching the ground. At first, there were only a couple of runners. Then a few more.

Slowly but steadily, the crowd of runners increased until they filled the street – a constant river of bright colors. Some were smiling and enjoying it – others showed the results of their exertion, steadfastly focused on accomplishing their goal. Every participant was there to achieve a personal best, from the fastest runner to the doggedly determined walker.

By the end of the first hour, the stream of participants became a steadily flowing river – an amazing sight to behold. Crossing the street was tricky but possible. Standing still in the middle of the street, I saw the runners streaming past unceasingly.

Marathon participants run down North Main in Monte Vista. Photo by Page Graham.
Marathon participants run down North Main in Monte Vista. Photo by Page Graham.

The participants sincerely appreciated the encouragement, whether it was the music provided by Flores or many of the bands stationed along the route, not to mention the people holding signs and shouting their support.

The energy was palpable among participants and spectators alike. No one went away dissatisfied or unimpressed.

Most marathon participants are regular folks determined to reach a personal goal, whether they run, walk, ride a bike, or push a wheelchair. For most, it doesn’t matter how long it takes, it’s more about the sense of accomplishment.

In the tradition of the King William Fair parade, it seems that the new tradition of marathon parties is starting to catch on. See you there next year.

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Page Graham has been a resident of San Antonio – on and off – for over 30 years now. He has moved into the corporate world, making a living developing training materials and Powerpoint presentations...