An estimated 15,000 are expected for the 36th Los Angeles Marathon, which began early Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
The wheelchair users started the race at 6:30 am, followed by the elite runners 15 minutes later and the elite runners and the entire field at 6:55 am. It will take most participants three to five hours to complete the 42.2 mile route from downtown to the finish line in Century City.
Many of the elite runners – including some of the fastest in the world – will likely finish the race in just over two hours. Bayelign Teshager from Ethiopia won the LA Marathon 2020 with a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 26 seconds. In the women’s race, the Kenyan Margaret Muriuki won easily with a time of 2:29:27.
Small but passionate groups of fans and supporters – cheering and waving signs – lined the streets of downtown Los Angeles early Sunday to offer encouragement and bottled water to runners.
Victor Yee, 32, was visiting from Oakland and decided to attend the competition early with some companions. His group recognized some friends whizzing by downtown on the first leg of the race.
Yee, a seasoned runner with more than two dozen marathons under his belt, had considered running this year. For him it’s a “bucket list race” and next year, he said, he’ll almost certainly be wearing the number for it. He prefers to run, in part because of his ability to unite a diverse community.
“It’s just so amazing,” said Yee. “Everyone here can be so different, but they all share the same passion.”
Christina Moore, 28, of North Hollywood, stood across from City Hall with two friends to cheer on her fiancé, 27-year-old Artoun Nazareth.
When Nazareth started training for the marathon about six months ago – his first – he couldn’t run 10 minutes without resting, Moore said.
“Now he can let it go non-stop – it’s crazy,” she said. “I can not do that.” Nazareth hopes to finish the race in less than five hours.
Nazareth woke up at 3 a.m. and turned back and forth to what Moore said she woke her up. About an hour and a half later they were at the door.
Now, in anticipation of his arrival, Moore and married couple Emma Wold, 26 and Tyler Beardsley, 27, are untangling homemade rally signs. One read “Crush it, Artoun” and another read “Jazzy Nazzy Is Speedy Weedy,” a reference to Nazareth’s last name.
The group of friends love to rip each other, Beardsley said. Some of the gang joked that Nazareth would never run a marathon.
“And he says, well, ‘I’ll show you,'” said Beardsley. “He says a lot: ‘You tell me I can’t. I’ll make sure it gets done. ‘”
As Nazareth ran by in his gray shirt and red shorts, he beamed at his personal cheering squad, patted his bum, and sprinted away.
The marathon will force the closure of large stretches of Sunset, Santa Monica, San Vicente and Wilshire Boulevards, Rodeo Drive, Sepulveda Boulevard, Doheny Drive and dozen of back streets during the afternoon.
The morning is expected to be dominated by low clouds and fog, with temperatures in the low to mid-50s and light drizzle, said David Gomberg, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Oxnard. Conditions are expected to brighten by morning, with temperatures approaching mid-1960s around noon, he said.
This year’s marathon has been postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The race traditionally takes place in March.