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She gets first-place group finish in marathon she didn't run

L.A. Marathon reports Paula Petrella as winner of women's 40-to-44 age group, but she decided against running on doctor's advice and was at start and finish as a spectator.

March 22, 2010|By Ben Bolch

Paula Petrella is a running buff who is writing "An Idiot's Guide to Marathon Training."

Perhaps she's also suited to write "An Idiot's Guide to Winning Marathons Without Running Them."

Los Angeles Marathon officials reported that Petrella won the women's 40-to-44 age group Sunday in a time of 2 hours 53 minutes 59 seconds. Or, at least that's what an excited co-worker at Sony Pictures Television told Petrella on Monday morning.

"She said, ‘Congratulations,' " Petrella recalled. " ‘I guess you're the silent threat. Who knew?' "

Petrella certainly didn't. How could she? She didn't run in the event.

The television executive had planned to make the race her first marathon since taking more than five hours to finish one in Washington, D.C., about 10 years ago. But her doctor advised against it about a month ago following a medical procedure.

Petrella showed up at the starting line at Dodger Stadium on Sunday to take photos for her book. She wore her runner's bib to ensure access to the course.

After driving home to Brentwood, she rode her bicycle to the finish line near the Santa Monica Pier. Race officials are trying to determine how their system recorded Petrella as having finished the race.

"It's not that common, but it happens," said Richard B. Perelman, the race's press officer.

Petrella said she felt bad for Lisa Fink of Newhall, the woman who actually won that age group but was reported as the second-place finisher.

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