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Runners pack downtown for L.A. Marathon

May 25, 2009 8:26:57 AM PDT
With the elite runners leading the way, the streets of downtown Los Angeles quickly filled with a sea of bodies for the L.A. Marathon, held for the first time on Memorial Day.The L.A. Marathon has traditionally been held on the first Sunday in March, but it was moved this year to Memorial Day.

The schedule change was partly because traffic is less of an issue on a holiday, but traffic is still expected to be an issue across the city.

Runner Janet Willard said the change of date was a reason she didn't want to participate this year.

"It's not so much the weather, it's just that they changed it twice," she said.

Although she wasn't happy with the change, Willard still arrived on early Monday morning to take part in the annual marathon.

The 26.2-mile course started at 6th Street and Figueroa Street, then runners headed south on Figueroa to Martin Luther King Boulevard, circled Leimert Park to La Cienega Boulevard, then through the Fairfax District to East 6th Street, east on Olympic Boulevard, headed to the finish line on 5th and Flower.

Participants lucked out with cool and comfortable weather conditions.

Elite runners competed for big prizes. Wesley Korir, a recent graduate of the University of Louisville, shattered the marathon record with a time of 2:08:24. He earned $188,705 in cash and prizes. The old course record was 2:08:40.

Tatiana Petrova won the womens' division of the marathon with an unofficial record-setting time of about 2:26.

More than 200 runners have a long history with the marathon. They are called legacy runners, having participated all 24 years of the event.

"It's always been a fun event. I said it's like a 26-mile party," said legacy runner Bob Norton.

Not everyone participating was competing for the fastest time. Some did it to achieve personal goals, and a crowd of spectators was there to cheer them all on.

"I think it's amazing watching the elite runners come in," said spectator Jodi Kimmel.

"I did this race in 2003, and I mean, to see them come in at the times they're coming in is amazing."

The 24th Los Angeles Marathon attracted 17,307 participants.

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