For Anne Rorie and Danny Gelber, the end of the LA Marathon is the beginning of a love story.

The final portion of the course on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica runs parallel to Palisades Park, where the couple got engaged on an evening walk in September.

So when Rorie approaches the conclusion of Sunday’s race, she’ll have more on her mind than the finish line.

“When I complete the marathon on my home stretch there will be a new part of my story and life that I can reflect on and that is all the memories I’ve now formed here,” she said.

Rorie and Gelber met serendipitously. She was moving into an apartment in Westwood. He was the outgoing tenant, relocating to Santa Monica.

The chance meeting led to the couple’s first date, a hike at Will Rogers State Historic Park. What followed was a series of dates in the city by the sea.

“Our relationship began as a tour of Santa Monica as we decided to check out as many places as possible in Danny’s new neighborhood,” Rorie said. “You could really label a huge part of our story Santa Monica love.”

Gelber, a technology consultant who is pursuing a master’s in business, has lived in Santa Monica since 2012. Rorie joined him about a year ago. The two have enjoyed walking and biking around town, and they like the vibe of the community as well as the proximity to the beach.

Perhaps not surprisingly, running has played a central role in their relationship.

“We’ve been running or jogging together since our relationship started,” Rorie said. “It definitely feels good to motivate each other to be healthy and achieve our goals.”

And the health benefits of the hobby are certainly not lost on Rorie, a nurse practitioner who provides care for underserved populations. Also a doctoral nursing student at UCLA, she is currently working on a dissertation about the effect of social media on health promotion behaviors among working adults in urban environments.

The upcoming race will be the fifth marathon for Rorie, a San Pedro native who has run the 26.2 miles three times in Los Angeles and once in San Francisco. She said she runs as much as her schedule allows during the week, and she’s focused less on her finish time than on the experience.

“I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to take part in these marathons, and that comes from the nurse in me – being grateful for your health,” Rorie said. “I’ve met a lot of people who can’t participate who would give anything to have the health to allow them to run, so I run with them in my heart.”

Rorie is looking forward to the final stages of the race. Not only will she be close to home, but she’ll also get a view of the Pacific Ocean after getting a boost from residents along San Vicente Boulevard who encourage runners and pass out snacks.

“It’s so important in those last few miles to have that support, and Santa Monica really brings it,” she said. “I hope the residents and community know that their cheers and kindness mean a tremendous amount to all of us. We don’t get a chance to express it as we run by, but it helps us get to the finish line.”

Support will also come from Gelber. Although he isn’t running in the LA Marathon, he certainly has plans on race day.

“I’ll be along the route and the finish line to support her,” he said.

If tradition holds, the couple will celebrate after the race with margaritas at El Cholo. And it seems their Santa Monica love story is just getting started.

Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, jeff@www.smdp.com or on Twitter.

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