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LOS ANGELES MARATHON

Wind Jammers

LOS ANGELES MARATHON XVI, WOMEN'S WINNER: 2:36:58; ELANA PARAMONOVA, Russia

Women: Fatigued but jubilant, Russian Paramonova captures her second marathon in two weeks with strong finish.

March 05, 2001|JOHN ORTEGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

She did it once, but she won't be doing it again.

Those were Elana Paramonova's feelings after running--and winning--her second marathon in two weeks in the 16th Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday.

Paramonova, a 38-year-old mother of one and born and raised in the Ural Mountains in Russia, had clocked a career best of 2 hours 32 minutes 55 seconds to win the Motorola Marathon in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 18. But that didn't prevent her from pulling away from Nuta Olaru of Romania in the final 1 1/2 miles Sunday to win the women's division of the L.A. Marathon for the first time.

Paramonova's time of 2:36:58 was the second-slowest winning women's mark in race history and the slowest since Lyubov Klochko of Ukraine ran 2:39:48 in 87-degree heat in 1993. But it was worth $35,000 in prize money and a new car from one of the race's main sponsors.

"We talked about doing this a few days after Austin," said Konstantin Selinevich, Paramonova's agent. "But we didn't make the final decision until about three days ago."

Paramonova smashed her previous best of 2:36:45 in Austin, but felt like she had a lot left at the end of the 26-mile 385-yard race.

So she came to Los Angeles to face a field that included Olaru, last year's runner-up, Russian Ramilia Burangulova, Lucia Subano of Kenya and Gadissa Edato of Ethiopia.

Those five women ran together for the first 21 miles, but the real racing began after that as the runners began a downhill portion of the course and the pace quickened from an average of 6:09 a mile for the first 21 miles to 5:31 for the 22nd mile.

Burangulova, 39, was the first to accelerate as she opened up a 10-yard lead on Olaru and a 20-yard advantage on Subano with Paramonova another 25 yards behind and Edato falling off the pace completely.

Olaru and Subano caught Burangulova within a half-mile, but Paramonova still trailed.

Not that she was worried.

"She didn't try to go with them," said Selinevich, who acted as Paramonova's interpreter. "She just ran her pace. She wasn't falling back. Those girls just ran faster. . . . She wasn't trying to stay with them because she realized that it was a tactical race and that she [would] make her move a little bit later."

Olaru, second to Jane Salumae of Estonia last year, put away Burangulova and Subano for good with a surge at 23 1/2 miles, but Paramonova began to close the gap between herself and those three.

Olaru came through 24 miles in 2:24:44 after running the previous mile in 5:25, the fastest of the race. But Paramonova was charging hard. She moved into third place at the 2-hour 25-minute mark, into second a minute and a half later and into the lead a minute after that as Olaru began to throw up some of the sports drink she had ingested minutes earlier.

"The problem was not the drink," said Pop Dumitru, Olaru's coach. "But she was surprised that Elana was with her so she was surprised. She might have picked up the pace too fast."

Olaru appeared to recover from her mishap within minutes, but Paramonova led by 40 yards at that point and she tripled her advantage by the finish.

"She knew that Nuta was the last woman in front of her," Selinevich said. "When she passed her, she just felt more extra power in her legs."

Olaru finished second in 2:37:22, followed by Burangulova in 2:37:46, Subano in 2:38:10 and Edato in 2:43:35.

"She feels disappointed because she felt like she was in control in the race," said Dumitru, also Olaru's interpreter. "Her mistake was that she didn't take the lead at the start and get into her rhythm. She wanted to run 2:30 and she could have done that. The weather was perfect and the conditions were good."

Paramonova, whose hometown of Ekaterinburg boasts former Soviet leader Boris Yeltsin, was elated with her victory, but understandably fatigued as well.

"This took everything out of her," Selinevich said. "She had to give it her all today."

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