Every Saturday morning leading up to the L.A. Marathon, hundreds of Lycra-clad runners gather on the Venice Boardwalk and clump together based on skill level and desired finish time. With the sun barely warm on the Santa Monica Mountains ahead, Roadrunners Venice take off down the sidewalk, two by two, rustling the homeless with the whisking of their running shorts. As the weeks go by, the training and the camaraderie intensify, and the group becomes one larger organism. Volunteer coaches play alpha dog in the front and back of the pack, keeping the group moving and helping each member achieve his or her goals. You might not consider yourself a joiner, but running in a pack is more natural than a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. Just be sure not to snarl too loudly at the hung-over Venetians slowly crawling out of bed when you return from the run. (Registration is required. Visit the website for more info.) 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. (213) 542-3000, lamarathon.com/roadrunners.

—Keith Plocek

LA Weekly