The 35th annual Los Angeles Marathon was held Sunday despite the growing coronavirus outbreak, with public health officials encouraging runners and spectators to take enhanced measures to protect themselves from the spread of respiratory illnesses.
Runners among the record field of 27,150 from all 50 states and a record 78 nations who entered the race were asked by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to not participate if they felt sick even with mild illness.
Public Health also recommend runners wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before the start of the race, not to shake hands with other participants or the public along the course, not to share water or food with other runners and frequently use hand sanitizer provided along the course.
Race organizers increased the number of hand sanitizer stations at the starting line at Dodger Stadium, along the 26-mile, 385-yard course and the finish festival in Santa Monica.
The health department also recommended that spectators who were sick with even mild illness remain at home. Spectators were advised to engage in “social distancing,” keeping at least six feet away from other people who are not family members or friends.
Public Health also advised spectators not to share food or water bottles, avoid shaking hands, and frequently wash hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, particularly before eating, after using the restroom and after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing.
Public Health is not recommending the suspension of any large public events, including the marathon, director Barbara Ferrer said. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said “There’s no reason to cancel it.”
The race went off as planned Sunday, starting at 6:30 a.m. with the wheelchair racers.
Medical staff treated three runners requiring immediate care.
One was a 30-year-old man who was discovered on the ground at Wilshire and Berry suffering from an “altered level of consciousness,” Capt. Erik Scott, public information officer for the Los Angeles Fire Department, told City News Service. The man was not a race participant, Scott said, and was taken to a hospital, where his condition was not available.
The other was a 46-year-old male marathon participant who complained of weakness and dizziness near San Vicente Boulevard and Montana Avenue, and was taken to a hospital in fair condition.
As of 5:15 p.m. a total of 12 runners received medical help with 11 being transported to hospital for treatment, according to health officials. Also, four runners suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene by Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics.
Scott said it was “the lowest patient count that I have seen” in his six years as PIO for the event, and credited the work of public safety officials, first responders and marathon staff.
Entries from runners with a mailing address in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Italy, South Korea and Iran were deferred to the 2021 race, about 0.06% of the field, according to Murphy Reinschreiber, chief operating officer of the McCourt Foundation, which organizes the race.
The U.S. State Department has issued a “do not travel to” advisory to those nations.
More than 25,000 people were expected to participate, according to Dan Cruz, the marathon’s head of communications.
There is traditionally about a 10% dropoff from the number of entrants to the number of runners, Cruz told City News Service. The entrants include 131 runners who have competed in all 34 previous editions of the race.
From Dodger Stadium, runners headed through downtown Los Angeles, Echo Park, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood, Brentwood and Santa Monica.
The previous record for entries was 26,054 in 2010, the first year of the “stadium to the sea” course. That race also had the most finishers, 22,580.
There were 25,500 entrants and 20,608 finishers in 2019. The race has had the fourth-largest field among U.S. marathons each year from 2016-19.
The previous high for nations with runners entered was 66, set last year.
Bayelign Teshager of Ethiopia was the men’s winner and Kenyan Margaret Muriuki the women’s winner.
Teshager, who lives in Boston, won in two hours, eight minutes, 26 seconds, the third time since 1999 a non-Kenyan won the race. Ethiopians also won in 2011 and 2014.
The marathon was first for the 20-year-old Teshager.
John Langat was second in 2:08:43 while fellow Kenyan Wilson Chebet was third in 2:09:16.
Muriuki was the women’s winner in 2:29:27 in her second marathon. The 33-year-old won the 2019 Honolulu Marathon in December in her debut at the distance.
Almaz Negede of Ethiopia was second in 2:32:28. Jane Kibii, a Kenyan who lives in Auburn in the Sacramento area, was third in 2:36:04.
African women have won nine of the last 11 races, with runners from the former Soviet Union winning the other two times.
The race has a purse of $100,000, with equal prize money for men and women.
The top five male and female finishers will receive prize money.
The winners will each receive $23,000, the runners-up $12,000 and third-place finishers $7,000. The top American man and woman will each receive a $2,000 bonus.