LA Marathon: Good morning, runners – and watch your step!
Mayor Karen Bass will be the honorary starter when 22,000 runners take off this morning on a 26.2-mile trip around the city for the 38th annual Los Angeles Marathon. If she has any advice for competitors this year, it could be “watch your step.” Light rain greeted the runners, which made the course slicker than usual, but officials had vowed to fill as many of the this year’s storm-spurred potholes as possible.
After weeks of record-setting wet weather, organizers warned runners to watch for road damage, though crews had been out filling them for days. Participants — and the spectators aiming to cheer them on — were greeted by a cloudy, wet, 58-degree morning on Sunday, March 19, with light put persistent showers. The worst of the rain from a small storm swooping in to the north was expected to divert away from L.A., but light showers were expected as the runners strode though the morning.
The “Stadium to the Stars” starts at famed Dodger Stadium, winds through some of the city’s most iconic neighborhoods including Chinatown, downtown Los Angeles, Echo Park, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, with its finish in Century City.
Race officials worked with the Bureau of Street Services to fill in such hazards along the route before race day, according to Dan Cruz, the marathon’s head of communications.
Although runners should watch where they step, they can also catch a glimpse such landmarks as the El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park, Los Angeles City Hall, Little Tokyo, Disney Hall and Music Center of Los Angeles County, Dolby Theater in Hollywood, part of Historic Route 66 in West Hollywood, and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills before finishing in Century City.
The race is presented by ASICS, a Japanese multinational corporation that produces sportswear. The name is an acronym for the Latin phrase “anima sana in corpore sano” translated by ASICS as “a sound mind, in a sound body. The race has drawn more than 22,000 runners from all 50 states and 67 nations, its largest field since 2020 when it had a record 27,150 entrants, the 21st time in 22 years it topped 20,000 entrants.
When the marathon was next run in November 2021 — eight months later than usual because of restrictions prompted by the coronavirus pandemic —there were more than 13,000 entrants, organizers said. There were 14,300 entrants for the 2022 race.
A light rain falls as runners gather for the start of the 38th #LAmarathon @dodgerstadium Sunday. pic.twitter.com/6QZhJWZTRA
— David Crane (@vidcrane) March 19, 2023
“As we emerge from the pandemic more and more people are comfortable in large gatherings and the increased field size aligns with year-over-year growth in race participation across the country,” Dan Cruz, the marathon’s head of communications told City News Service.
The race will begin at Dodger Stadium at 6:30 a.m. with the wheelchair racers. The hand crank racers will start at 6:35 a.m. The women’s elite field will start at approximately 6:40 a.m. and the elite men’s field around 7 a.m.
From Dodger Stadium, runners will head through downtown Los Angeles, Echo Park, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood and Brentwood then back through Westwood to Century City, with the finish line for the “Stadium to the Stars” course on Santa Monica Boulevard between Avenue of the Stars and Century Park East.
When the first runner crosses the finish line around 9 a.m. it will be 57 degrees, with southerly winds about 5 mph, Lisa Phillips, a weather service meteorologist, told City News Service.
There is chance of light rain from the late morning through the rest of the day, Phillips said.
The elite women will start 18 minutes, 19 seconds ahead of the elite men for the race’s Morgan & Morgan Marathon Chase, with the overall first finisher receiving a $10,000 bonus. The time difference is based on a calculation of the differences in lifetime finishes among the top seeded entrants.
The chase was part of the marathon from 2004 to 2014, with women winning seven times and men four. It was discontinued in 2015 when the race served as the USA Marathon Championships. It was revived last year with Delvine Meringor becoming the eighth female winner.
The men’s and women’s winners will each receive $6,000, the second-place finishers $2,500 and third-place finishers $1,500. The men’s and women’s wheelchair winners will each receive $2,500.
The men’s race has been won by a Kenyan every year since 1999, except for 2011, 2014 and 2020 when it was won by Ethiopians. A U.S. runner last won in 1994.
African women have won 10 of the last 13 races, including Meringor in 2022. Runners from the former Soviet Union won twice in the past 13 races. Natasha Cockram of Wales won in 2021. A U.S. runner last won the women’s race in 1994.
The field includes 107 legacy runners who have run all 37 previous editions of the race, including 81-year-old Sharon Kerson of Culver City, who will be running her 600th marathon. Her first was the inaugural 1986 Los Angeles Marathon.
Kerson will have to walk to finish the marathon. It is expected it will take her nearly 10 hours to complete the race.
There will be more than 3,100 runners from Students Run LA, an after-school mentoring and physical fitness program offered at more than 185 public schools in the Greater Los Angeles Area.
The race has 80 charity partners, with runners raising more than $2.5 million.