A field of 1,800 runners competed in Sunday’s 37th annual Long Beach Marathon, including 15 who had completed all 36 previous editions of the race.
Kenneth Richardson of Ogden, Utah, won the men’s marathon with a time of 2:27:20.76.
“Today was a lot of fun, I mean it’s always fun to win, but it was fun to get out to an event and see so many people,” the 42-year-old Richardson said. “I know there’s a lot of changes even with COVID, but the organizers did a great job. It’s always nice to come down to sea level and we’re right at sea level here at the finish line looking at the ocean.”
San Diego’s Bonnie Axman Keating won the women’s marathon in a time of 2:49:25.37.
“It was a harder than anticipated, I guess I haven’t raced in a while,” Keating said after completing her first Long Beach Marathon in 10 years. “It’s exciting to get back out there again and get the work in. Today was such a great atmosphere, just the energy is great and there we’re a lot of people along the course from the community cheering us runners on.”
In the men’s race, Nicholas Spector of Costa Mesa was second with a time of 2:29:25, and 2019 Long Beach Marathon champion Nate Clayson of Saratoga Springs, Utah, was third in 2:29:36.
Payton Golwas, a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, finished second in the women’s race in 2:53:10, while Jenna Crawford of Huntington Beach was third in 3:08:53.
A 13.1-mile half-marathon and a 20-mile bicycle tour were also held in connection with the marathon. The bicycle tour was held on the marathon course, conducted in the opposite direction.
More than 6,000 runners entered the half-marathon, race publicist Dan Cruz told City News Service. Approximately 10,000 runners entered the marathon, half-marathon, virtual races, the bicycle tour or Saturday’s Aquarium of the Pacific 5K run, Cruz said.
Runners from 44 states and 19 nations competed, with a 50/50 gender breakdown and approximately 20% running their first marathon or half-marathon, Cruz said.
Ethiopian Abebe Kebede and San Diego’s Anna Pasternak took the half-marathon titles. Pasternak won the half-marathon by a nose, beating out Pasadena’s Kayla Grahn, who finished with an identical time of 1:18:24.
“It was good, it’s been a while since I raced this long. The goal was just to get out there and run hard,” said Pasternak, who was racing Long Beach for her first time. “To have her (Kayla) to chase those last few miles and then I tried to make a move at the very end after pushing along the straightway back on Ocean Boulevard, I could see the turn and I just tried to hold on.”
The 26-mile, 385-yard main marathon course started on Shoreline Drive. Runners then passed through The Pike at Rainbow Harbor retail and entertainment center, ran on an on-ramp to the Long Beach (710) Freeway, and crossed the Queensway Bridge to the bow of the Queen Mary.
The field looped around the Lighthouse at Rainbow Harbor, headed to Pierpoint Landing, then back through the start/finish area.
The sixth through 10th miles were run a few feet from the Pacific Ocean. The course went through the Belmont Shore neighborhood, passed Marine Stadium and around Colorado Lagoon, passing the Long Beach Recreation Golf Course.
The 16th through 20th miles were a 5-kilometer loop through Cal State Long Beach. The field then ran on Ocean Boulevard to the finish line on Shoreline Drive.
The health order from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health required all race participants and attendees to be fully vaccinated for the coronavirus or obtain a negative COVID-19 test result prior to attending the event.
All participants had to present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result before being allowed to pick up their race bib.
Physical infrastructure remaining from the last month’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach prompted an earlier start to the half-marathon to alleviate the crowd of half-marathon participants at the start of the race. The half-marathon started in waves beginning at 7 a.m. with the competitive wave that continued through 7:50 a.m.
Runners could only access the start line staging area at Marina Green via two pedestrian walkways because of the physical infrastructure remaining from the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The coronavirus pandemic prompted organizers to hold the race’s Health & Fitness Expo outdoors.
The Long Beach Marathon was first held in 1982. The race was disbanded in 1996 because of financial problems, then revived in 1999 under new management.