LA Marathon: 6 things you should know about this year’s race — and 1 thing about 2022 – LA Daily News

The Los Angeles Marathon is back — albeit in a different month and with a different route.

But that will matter little to the event’s fans after the marathon was delayed from its traditional March running because of the coronavirus pandemic.

And although the delta variant’s spread remains a concern, the 2021 LA Marathon — one of the biggest footraces in the world — will go forward at last on Sunday, Nov. 7.

“We know we were one of the lucky races able to run in 2020, when so many were postponed,” race spokesman Dan Cruz said. “And now to be the last big city marathon in the U.S. (of the year) is going to be special.”

The county’s public health director said Thursday she is “comfortable” with the race being launched, despite the mammoth gathering of humanity that comes with it.

“They’ve made a lot of modifications so that the runners will be safe,” Barbara Ferrer said. “And, of course, in terms of spectators, it’s up to all of us to keep our distance if we’re in crowded places, as always. … It’s a long route, so people have plenty of opportunity to spread out.”

Here’s what you need to know about Sunday’s event:

It’s different this year

The pandemic endures. And with it, concern about thousands of people running in the streets.

LA County rules for “mega-events” will apply and event organizers have taken steps to assure the community that it will be staged safely.

Mega-events, according to county rules, must require attendees to wear facemasks, except when eating or drinking.

Participants will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test. Signage detailing the rules will be posted along the route and staff are required to remind onlookers to wear their masks.

Organizers have emphasized that the event itself is outdoors, not subject to the kind of virus risks big indoor gatherings have to deal with.

That said, there are, as Cruz described them, dramatic changes.

They include moving the event’s pre-marathon Health and Fitness Expo on Friday and Saturday from inside the L.A. Convention Center to the Dodger Stadium parking lot.

The larger goal is to minimize lines and crowding.

It’s at that expo where race-day runners will have to provide their proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test and receive a verification band for Sunday’s run. If you’re just attending the Expo, however, you do not need proof of vaccine or a negative test.

Organizers have also nixed the race day gear check at the 2021 Los Angeles Marathon. Instead, runners have the option of checking a bag at the Health & Fitness Expo on Friday and Saturday. Runners will be able to retrieve their bags at Gear Check Pick Up after the race.

Now, let’s talk race day itself:

–Again, to repeat: It’s not just runners who need full proof of vaccination or negative test. The requirement extends to all participants, staff, volunteers, media and spectators who enter the secured Start Line area of the Los Angeles Marathon at Dodger Stadium. That doesn’t apply to those watching elsewhere along the route.

–Face coverings are required while inside the Dodger Stadium Start Line secured area (except when actively eating or drinking). In other words, if you’re a runner, face masks on before you cross the start line.

–But participants may remove face coverings after crossing the starting line.

–Proof of vaccination is required for access to the club, suite and club level of Dodger Stadium. Here, just providing proof of a negative test is not enough to gain access to those areas.

–Organizers recommend masks at all event areas outside of the secure Start Line area.

–Also note that the testing requirement includes a 72-hour requirement. So the earliest a person can get tested was Thursday, Nov. 4.

Screenshot 2021 11 04 132707

It’s still gonna be big. But how big?

Last year’s marathon, on March 8, drew more than 25,000 runners from all over the world, making it one of the last large gatherings before the pandemic shut down sports events nationwide.

The marathon has also traditionally drawn hundreds of thousands of spectators annually.

That was less the case in 2020, when the streets were far less packed with onlookers amid the initial wave of the coronavirus outbreak. Though fans were generally plentiful at the start and finish lines, some stretches of the course were empty.

This year, organizers have prepared a race that allows for more social distancing and a “comfortable athlete experience.” The 2021 marathon will have fewer participants than last year, by nearly half, but that doesn’t mean the race will be an intimate affair: About 13,000 runners will compete, organizers said.

All 50 states and 50 countries will be represented in the field, organizers said.

And their followers will be there too. Their experience is also important, organizers said.

“Spectators make the experience for the runners,” Cruz said. “We’re encouraging the community to come out, make a sign and support your friend or neighbor who’s pounding the pavement to achieve a bucket list goal.”

The event’s endpoint in Century City will have grandstands so supporters can see their beloved runners cross that finish line. Organizers are planning an inaugural headliner concert. Performer Tai Verdes will take the Winston House MainStage at 12:30 p.m.

Note, too, that local public safety agencies will once again come together in a coalition called UnifiedLA, dealing with everything from crowd management and risk mitigation to crime deterrence and medical responses, according to LA Fire Department Capt. Erik Scott. You can follow Unified LA on Twitter, @UnifiedLA.

“Over the years, we have practiced how to mitigate multiple emergency simulations,” Scott said, “including simple scenarios such as extreme weather and unattended bags, to significant scenarios such as terrorist attacks and an active shooter.”

The Marathon’s twitter feed is @LAmarathon.

Expect November weather, not March weather

As it turns out, the forecast won’t be all that different.

Sunday’s high is expected to be in the low 70s with partial cloudiness. That likely means the racers will take off at 6 a.m. with the temperatures in the mid-50s.

There is a 3% chance of rain.

Don’t go to the sea. Reach for the Stars.

Unlike the 2020 iteration, the route will not reach the beach.

The marathon’s new “Stadium to the Stars” course will launch at Dodger Stadium per usual, then roll through West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. But when the race hits Brentwood, it will make a kind of U-turn and double back on San Vicente, and Sepulveda and Santa Monica boulevards, then wrap up at Avenue of the Stars in Century City, in front of the grandstands.

As usual, the course is the traditional 26.2 miles.

Here’s a complete look at the course. 

It’s an event for “morning people.”

As always, it’s a “crack of dawn” kind of happening, so set the alarm and chug the java.

The wheelchair racers set out at 6:30 a.m. The elite women follow at 6:45 a.m. The elite men and the rest of the field will launch at 6:55 a.m. Later, at 8:14 a.m., racers in the “Charity Challenge 13.1” layers will start.

Top finishers will hit the tape in a little more than two hours. You read that right — 26 miles in two hours-plus.

Last year’s men’s winner, Ethiopia’s Bayelign Teshager finished at 2:08:26. Women’s winner Margaret Muriuki triumphed with a time of 2:29:27.

The finish line will be open for 6.5 hours after the start of the race.

The Finish Festival, the marathon’s post-race party, will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at  Century Park, 10058 Constellation Blvd. It’s open to the public and will feature a beer garden, live entertainment and merch sales.

Here’s a complete look at the schedule for the race and related events this weekend.

Out for an early-morning drive? Expect closures.

Myriad streets will be closed along the route, so plan ahead if you want to avoid marathon-related issues.

Dozens of road closures start at 4 a.m. Sunday. Click here for a complete list of closures.  

Some ramps along the north and southbound 110 Freeway and the southbound 405 Freeway will be closed. You can find the complete list of freeway ramps affected here. 

Some roads will be closed throughout the afternoon. The course will start reopening to vehicles 6.5 hours after officials declare that the final official runner has crossed the starting line at Dodger Stadium.

Want to navigate to the race in person? Metro has planned special options for you and there are specific measures in place for ride-sharing. Check them out here.

Planning on watching the race from the comfort of your own sofa? KTLA TV will broadcast the race live. And the event’s Facebook site will feature a live stream. For a guide to other ways to watch the event live and not change out of your jammies, click here. 

And what about next year?

No, the event is not moving to November permanently.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the race will return to March. That means the hoopla — and the huffing and puffing — will return to LA’s streets a mere four months from now.