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L.A. Marathon runners sweat through hottest race day in decade

March 09, 2014|By Teresa Watanabe

They’ve fought torrential rain and strong winds before, but L.A. Marathon runners have rarely seen the heat they did Sunday – or the large number of first-aid calls the warm weather produced.

At the L.A. Marathon’s finish line in Santa Monica, city firefighters aided 95 runners, sending 16 to area hospitals, for such problems as dehydration, cramps, chest pains and exhaustion, according to Battalion Chief Jeff Furrows. That was twice the usual number of runners requesting aid, he said.

VIDEO:Crossing the finish line

Race-day temperatures climbed to 81 degrees at the finish line, the highest ever recorded since the L.A. Marathon began its 26.2-mile “Stadium to the Sea” course from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica five years ago. The heat was blamed for slightly slower times this year, with Amane Gobena of Ethiopia winning the women’s race in 2 hours, 27 minutes and 37 seconds and fellow countryman Gebo Burka winning the men's race in 2:10:37.

 “The unusually high temperatures were a unique challenge for us this year,”  Furrows said, adding that winds last year and rain the year before did not cause similar problems. “We saw more folks in need of assistance.”

The higher number of calls for aid prompted Santa Monica to request extra help, including L.A. County paramedics, L.A. city bike teams and other transport vehicles and private ambulances.  Elsewhere, L.A. County Fire Capt. Brian Jordan said his paramedics brought six runners to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center among nine who requested help for heat-related maladies.

Santa Monica police increased security at the finish line, taking extra precautions after the terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon last year, but no incidents were reported. “There was nothing out of the ordinary,” a police spokesman said.

Overall, marathon organizers hailed the race as one of the most successful ever, with near-record crowds. The event drew 21,829 runners from all 50 states and 55 nations; all but 348 crossed the finish line. More than one-third were running for the first time and just over half were new participants in the L.A. Marathon, according to organizers.

As many as 75,000 spectators lined the course in Santa Monica alone, the city's largest annual one-day event, Furrows said.

“It was truly a celebration of Los Angeles and a great event that brought our community together,” said Tracey Russell, the marathon’s chief executive.


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Twitter: @TeresaWatanabe

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