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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Runners flood the streets for 26th Los Angeles Marathon


    Two Ethiopians rule men’s and women’s fields despite shivery, slippery conditions.

    The lesson learned from Sunday’s 26th Los Angeles Marathon is that shivering might be preferable to sweating.

    But whether despite or because of wet, windy conditions, Ethiopia’s Markos Geneti set a race record with a time of 2:06:35 in his first-ever marathon, breaking the previous record of 2:08:24.

    The women’s division also was won by an Ethiopian, Buzunesh Deba at 2:26:35; not a race record, but a lifetime best for her. Additionally, it was the first time both male and female runners from that East African nation have won the L.A. Marathon.

    Georgia-based South African Krige Schabirt took the wheelchair division with a time of 1:35:12.

    Rain fell relentlessly throughout most of the 26.2 mile race from Dodger Stadium to near the Santa Monica Pier. Temperatures rarely brushed the 60 degree mark, and sharp winds shredded the Mylar wraps cloaked around shivering runners who crossed the finish line.

    The inclement weather — the fourth time it’s rained during an L.A. Marathon — delayed the race’s scheduled start by about 15 minutes when wind blew down some mile markers. It also appeared to thin out spectator attendance along the route, which went through Chinatown and Little Tokyo for the first time, in lieu of the hated circling of Dodger Stadium that launched the first, Stadium-to-the-Sea route last year.

    “”I came to cheer the

    Japanese runner (Eri Okubo) who was going to run in the Nagoya Marathon that was canceled because of the earthquake,”” Jayson Yamaguchi said on a downtown corner as the first big wave of runners passed — and initial drops fell from the sky — around 8:15 a.m.

    “”She is one of the top seven girls in the world.”” Yamaguchi, 61, said a friend of his back home was found safe on a rooftop two days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

    “”I came here to cheer not just for Japanese, but for everybody,”” the Osaka-born, L.A.-based, businessman said. “”But it is starting to rain so hard. My goodness!””

    For the most part, runners seemed to dig the chilly, wet weather — at least until their teeth set to chattering as they trudged, post-race, along Ocean Avenue.

    “”I ran the L.A. Marathon once before, several years ago,”” said Rit Tun, 39, an orthopedic surgeon at Kaiser Permanente in Panorama City.

    “”It was hot and sunny, so this is quite a change,”” he said. “”I’d say I prefer this.””

    Tun shivered in the muddy lot next to the Rand Corp. building that hosted the Marathon’s finish line festival.

    “”During the race, the rain and the wind didn’t bother me so much. But walking these last few blocks to here, it was difficult.””

    Fifteen-year-old Fulton College Prep student Jose Carlos Fuentes beat his time from last year’s marathon by 47 minutes. But he said he would have done better in warmer, drier weather.

    “”I trained hard,”” the Van Nuys teenager said. “”But the weather kind of slowed me down, the cold gave me cramps. But I’m going to do it next year, rain or shine.””

    Inside the Fairmount Miramar Hotel, where hundreds of drenched runners received hot drinks and were blanket-wrapped in the ballroom, Miriam Osterman was feeling warm as she could be after her first marathon.

    “”It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had,”” the 22-year-old Studio City native, who studies political science at UC Riverside, said.

    “”I’m still kind of shocked that I did it and I finished in the time that I did — four hours and four minutes!””

    As for the cold, wet route, “”it was actually pretty refreshing,”” Osterman said. “”They gave me a little astronaut blanket, and that kept me pretty warm.””

    She was one of the lucky ones. More than 200 runners were checked for hypothermia at the finish line. By 2 p.m., 12 had been taken to hospitals for further evaluation.

    “”People are cold, wet and crampy,”” said Dr. Wally GhurabiUCLA’s medical director for emergency medicine and the Marathon’s finish line medical director.

    “”There are a lot of strains and sprains and abrasions from people slip-sliding away, as they say,”” Ghurabi said. “”But I’ll take the wet weather, as long as there are no thunderstorms. We’re seeing more people this year, but all we have to do with most of them is warm them up.””

    The slick streets also caused one wheelchair racer to flip on La Cienega Boulevard, but he reportedly was not hurt.

    A total of 23,542 people participated in the 2011 L.A. Marathon. The field was 9.6 percent smaller than 2010’s, and ranked as the sixth largest in the race’s history. The vast majority of entrants, 21,025 or 89 percent, were Californians. New York contributed the second-highest state number, 186.

    On the international list, Japan was first with 201, followed by Mexico with 107 and Canada with 91.

    Before this year’s event, the highest amount of rainfall recorded at an L.A. Marathon was 1.61 inches in 2000.

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