Kenyan runners lead the way in 37th L.A. Marathon

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Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — Kenyans John Korir and Delvine Meringor won the 37th edition of the Los Angeles Marathon March 20, with Meringor winning an additional $10,000 bonus for beating Korir to the finish line.

The women’s elite field started 16 minutes, five seconds before the men’s, based on the expected men’s and women’s winning times, which organizers correctly predicted would put the top female and male runners within seconds of each other heading into the final mile.

The race held the gender challenge 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.

“I didn’t know I was going to win [the bonus],” Meringor said. “I could see he was almost closing on me. Then, he didn’t close on me again.”

Toni Reavis, who provided color commentary on KTLA’s broadcast of the race, said the “whole point” of the gender challenge was “to get people to watch TV. In the TV business you have to ask, ‘Why are they watching?’ You have to give them reasons to watch. We gave them a reason to watch.”

Korir, 25, completed the 26-mile, 385-yard course in two hours, nine minutes, eight seconds, while the 29-year-old Meringor won in 2:25:04 in her second marathon.

It was the second consecutive Los Angeles Marathon victory for Korir, who won last year’s race, which was held in November due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Korir nearly won the 2019 race, but was passed in the final 200 yards by countryman Elisha Barno and finished second. His older brother Wesley Korir also won back-to-back Los Angeles Marathons, in 2009 and 2010.

“It feels very, very good to win for the second time like my brother,” John Korir said. “I knew I wanted to run fast and try to win from the start.”

Kenyan men have won all but three Los Angeles Marathons since 1999, with Ethiopians winning in 2011, 2014 and 2020. A U.S. runner last won in 1994.

African women have won 10 of the last 13 races, with runners from the former Soviet Union winning twice and Natasha Cockram of Wales winning in 2021. A U.S. runner last won the women’s race in 1994.

The men’s and women’s winners each receive $6,000, the runners-up $2,500 each and third-place finishers $1,500 each.

Kenyan Edwin Kimutai was second among the men for the second consecutive year in 2:10:43, while Ethiopian Berhanu Bekele Berga was third in 2:15:10.

Antonina Kwambai of Kenya was second among the women for the second consecutive year in 2:30:13 with Ethiopian Biruktayit Degefa third in 2:31:28.

American Tyler McCandless of Fort Collins, Colorado was fourth for the men in 2:15:18. The top-finishing American woman was Amanda Phillips of Hood River, Oregon, fifth in 2:35:06.

Both runners qualified for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials with their times.

“It was a great race out there,” McCandless said. “It was a little bit windy. I spent a lot of time racing alone, so it was a mental grind.”

Phillips, who set a new personal best time, said she was “proud of working through the hard parts of this course. It’s definitely a course you have to be mentally tough on.”

Just like in November, the race was run on the “Stadium to the Stars” course that began at Dodger Stadium, then headed west to Brentwood, where runners doubled back on San Vicente, Sepulveda and Santa Monica boulevards, ending at Avenue of the Stars in Century City.

“We were thrilled to bring the marathon weekend back to the spring,” said Murphy Reinschreiber, the marathon’s chief operating officer. “The pandemic forced us to postpone the 2021 race, but we believe the marathon’s true place is in the spring.”

The race started at 6:30 a.m. for the wheelchair racers, followed at 6:38 a.m. by the elite women and 6:55 a.m. with the elite men and the remainder of the field.

The temperature at Dodger Stadium at the start of the race was in the mid-50s, with partly cloudy skies that cleared up as the race continued, though runners faced some headwinds after 10:30 a.m.

The marathon suffered its first fatality in 15 years when a 46-year-old woman collapsed at the finish line and later died.

Trisha Paddock of Rancho Palos Verdes was running in the 13.1-mile Charity Challenge where all participants were fundraising for one of the race’s official charities.

Los Angeles Fire Department personnel “came in contact” with Paddock at 12:10 p.m. She had “a medical complaint that escalated to a witnessed cardiac arrest,” Fire Capt. Erik Scott said.

“Medical aid was quickly provided by over a dozen personnel, including LAFD Cycle Teams, and the patient was rapidly treated and transported to a local hospital,” Scott said.

Race officials reported her death March 22.

This year’s race drew 14,300 entrants from age 12 to 88, from 45 nations and all 50 states, including 116 runners who have run all 36 previous editions of the race and nearly 2,500 from Students Run LA who were unable to participate in the training program last year because of coronavirus-related restrictions on in-person gatherings, organizers said.

 

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