African runners again dominate L.A. Marathon

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — Kenyan Stacy Ndiwa was the women’s winner of the 38th Los Angeles Marathon March 19 and claimed a $10,000 bonus by finishing ahead of men’s winner Jemal Yimer of Ethiopia.

The elite women started at 6:41 a.m., 18 minutes, 19 seconds ahead of the elite men for the race’s Morgan & Morgan Marathon Chase. The time difference is based on a calculation of the differences in lifetime finishes among the top seeded entrants.

The 30-year-old Ndiwa crossed the finish line in Century City about 32 seconds before the 26-year-old Yimer. Ndiwa completed the 26-mile, 385-yard course in two hours, 31 minutes. Yimer was the men’s winner in 2:13:13.

The chase was part of the marathon from 2004 to 2014, with women winning seven times and men four. It was discontinued in 2015 when the race served as the USA Marathon Championships. It was revived last year with Delvine Meringor becoming the eighth female winner.

Kenyans swept the top three places in the women’s field. Martha Akeno was second in 2:34:25 and Grace Kahura third in 2:38:15.

Ashley Paulson of St. George, Utah, was fourth in 2:48:47 followed by Katie Layman of Folsom in 2:49:39.

African women have won 11 of the past 14 races. A U.S. runner last won the women’s race in 1994.

Ethiopian Yemane Tsegay was second among the men in 2:14:06 and Barnada Kipkoech of Kenya was third in 2:14:27. Hosava Kretzman of Flagstaff, Arizona, was the top American man, finishing sixth in 2:19:55.

An African man has won the race each year since 1999, including other victories by Ethiopians in 2011, 2014 and 2020. Kenyans won all the other races during that span. A U.S. runner last won in 1994.

The race began under cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-50s at Dodger Stadium. Mayor Karen Bass spoke at the starting line, welcoming the field of more than 22,000 and encouraging them to do their best, then sounded the starting horn for the race. A light drizzle was falling by the time runners began crossing the finish line.

The marathon drew entrants from all 50 states and 67 nations, its largest field since 2020 when it had a record 27,150 entrants, the 21st time in 22 years it topped 20,000 entrants, organizers said.

When the marathon was next run in November 2021 — eight months later than usual because of restrictions prompted by the coronavirus pandemic — there were more than 13,000 entrants, organizers said. There were 14,300 entrants for the 2022 race.

“As we emerge from the pandemic more and more people are comfortable in large gatherings and the increased field size aligns with year-over-year growth in race participation across the country,” Dan Cruz, the marathon’s head of communications, told City News Service.

Ahead of the race organizers advised runners to watch their step and look out for potholes caused by the recent rains and they also worked with the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services to fill in as many as they could before race day. 

From Dodger Stadium, the course headed through downtown Los Angeles, Echo Park, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood and Brentwood then back through Westwood to Century City, with the finish line for the “Stadium to the Stars” course on Santa Monica Boulevard between Avenue of the Stars and Century Park East.

The men’s and women’s winners both received $6,000, the second-place finishers $2,500 and third-place finishers $1,500. The men’s and women’s wheelchair winners each received $2,500.

The field included 107 legacy runners who have run all 37 previous editions of the race, including 81-year-old Sharon Kerson of Culver City, who was running her 600th marathon. Her first was the inaugural 1986 Los Angeles Marathon.

Kerson intended to walk to finish the marathon. It was expected it would take her nearly 10 hours to complete the race.

There were more than 3,100 runners from Students Run LA, an after-school mentoring and physical fitness program offered at more than 185 public schools in the greater Los Angeles area.

The race has 80 charity partners, with runners raising more than $2.5 million.

Its premier charities are: Angel City Pit Bulls, which is dedicated to creating a better future for pit bulls through education, public advocacy, adoptions and owner support; Students Run LA; Team World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development and advocacy activities seeking to tackle the causes of poverty and injustice in nearly 100 nations; and Team TMF, the fundraising team for the McCourt Foundation, which describes its mission as striving to cure neurological diseases while empowering communities to build a healthier world. The foundation operates the race.

Featured charities include: The American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities, the fundraising organization for the Memphis-based St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; the Alzheimer’s Association; the American Cancer Society; American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; Beit T’Shuvah, a Jewish, faith-based recovery center which focuses on the spiritual healing of addicts; Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; the Justin Turner Foundation, which supports homeless veterans, children (and their families) battling life-altering illnesses and diseases and youth baseball organizations; and Students Off And Running, which provides no-cost Los Angeles Marathon training to hundreds of children in need living in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Among the runners running on behalf of a charity was Ryan Paddock, running on behalf of the Asian American Drug Abuse Program which provides Asian Pacific Islanders and other under-served communities with substance abuse services throughout Los Angeles County, with programs and services provided to all individuals regardless of race or ethnicity.

Paddock’s wife Trisha Paddock was running on behalf of the program last year in the 13.1-mile Charity Challenge where all participants fundraise for one of the race’s official charities. She collapsed at the finish line and died, the race’s first death since 2007.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Craig Mitchell ran with a group of runners from the Skid Row Running Club he founded in 2012 as a way to help its members get a second chance at life as they battle their addictions.

The roots of the club come from a man Mitchell had sentenced to prison, then contacted him through the Midnight Mission.

“For some reason he decided he liked the way I treated him, even though I sent him to prison,” Mitchell said. “He looked me up and introduced me to the Mission.”

Mitchell soon decided the best way to reach the people was through running.

“There are so many little things that emanate from this very basic idea of just running,” Mitchell said.

Since then, he has led three weekly training sessions around downtown Los Angeles — six-mile runs on Mondays and Thursdays and up to 18 miles on Saturdays.

“I’m not a great runner,” Mitchell said. “But the crucial thing is my willingness to devote time to this enterprise.”

Among other notable competitors was 44-year-old DJ and record producer Diplo, who finished the marathon in under 4 hours, according to Cruz.

Matt Billington was the top men’s finisher in the charity half-marathon with a time of 1:17:27:38. Liz Arnold was the top female finisher in a time of 1:32:51.17.

The wheelchair racers began first at 6:30 a.m. At least two wheelchair racers toppled over in the second mile, but were able to right themselves and resume racing.

Francisco Sanclemente of Colombia was the men’s winner in 1:43:51 and Hannah Babalola of New Jersey was the women’s winner in 2:50:29.

The hand cycle racers began at 6:35 a.m. Owen Daniels of San Jacinto was the men’s winner in 1:13.02 and Ryen Reed of Riverside the women’s winner in 1:34:48.

Organizers said 10 people were examined for various ailments, with four taken to a hospital. One person suffered an unspecified medical emergency, but that person’s condition was not immediately known.

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