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L.A. MARATHON

Notes

March 30, 1998|DAVID WHARTON

It isn't unusual to see top women competitors running among the faster men from the "citizen" field, the mass of humanity that starts behind the elite runners.

But a few of the women took offense at a clot of men who appeared to hang around their lead pack during the early stages of the Los Angeles Marathon.

"They were not giving us a way to move," said Hellen Kimaiyo of Kenya, who finished third. "Some would step behind you. Some even were trying to push us. I don't know why they were trying to do that."

By the latter portion of the race, the women had extricated themselves from the crush. But that didn't soothe their feelings.

"It is a pity," said Lornah Kiplagat of Kenya, who repeated as champion. "You can fall because of them . . . and screw the whole thing up."

*

Not all the crowds were unappreciated.

A number of racers said they were encouraged by fans who lined the course on a morning when predicted rain showers never materialized.

"People were calling out to me," Kiplagat said. "They are great people. Very friendly."

The crowds braved chilly weather. The temperature at race time was 45 degrees, nine degrees colder than the coldest start in the marathon's 13-year history.

"This is one of my favorite courses," said Kazu Hatanaka, who won the women's wheelchair title. "The best thing is that there is always a lot of cheering along the way."

*

The marathon drew 19,712 entrants, slightly fewer than last year's record of 19,998. With in-line skating eliminated from the list of events, there were also fewer overall participants.

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