The City Council agreed today to move the Los Angeles Marathon back to a Sunday in March beginning next year, siding with runners who said holding the race on Memorial Day meant hotter and potentially dangerous temperatures.
The race had traditionally been held on the first Sunday in March. But after Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt bought the marathon from a Chicago company last year, the council bowed to religious leaders who complained that the street closures associated with the race and its 20,000 runners would often block access to churches.
As a result, the marathon was held this year on Memorial Day, with the idea running the race on a holiday would cause fewer disruptions because many people have the day off.
Councilman Tom LaBonge, chairman of the Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee, recently asked city Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller to weigh the pros and cons of holding the marathon on a federal or state Monday holiday or on a Sunday.
In response, Miller recommended holding the marathon on a Sunday, noting that "deployment of necessary city personnel from all departments for an event of this magnitude is problematic because most employees do not want to work on a holiday Monday."
He noted that for this year's Memorial Day race, the Department of Transportation had a "40 percent no-show rate" among its employees, and the Police Department was forced to cancel vacations and order officers to work on overtime pay.