First One to the Ocean Wins

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The route for the 2009 LA Marathon is taking shape.

Howard Sunkin, senior vice president of the McCourt Group which operates  the marathon, told City News Service that it will be "an iconic race, a  fantastic race, a world-class race."

He said the 26.2-mile route of the March 21 race has not been finalized,  but "the ultimate goal is for it to go from Dodger Stadium, through some of  the most iconic locations in Hollywood, wind through West Hollywood and the  Sunset Strip, then move down the Santa Monica Boulevard portion of West  Hollywood, which is quite significant in history and tradition."

The race will then proceed to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, through the  Westside, and finally the Pacific Ocean.

The exact location of the finish line has yet to be decided, Sunkin  said. Race officials are expected to unveil the complete route at a news  conference after Labor Day.

Sunkin praised the city councils of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, West  Hollywood and Santa Monica for approving the "Stadium-to-the-Sea'' route,  saying "their coming together will create a tremendous day of community, and  community spirit."

LA Marathon President Russ Pillar said, "With the cooperation of these  four cities, we now have the tools to create a world-class marathon of which we  can all be proud.

"Working together, we're confident in our ability to build an event  that -- true to our mission statement -- will inspire athletes and connect  communities."

The LA Marathon is one of the largest races in the country, typically  attracting 20,000 runners, 12,000 volunteers, and about 1 million spectators  along the route.

Last week, the Los Angeles City Council agreed to move the race back to  a Sunday in March, after runners complained that continuing to hold it on  Memorial Day could mean hotter and potentially dangerous temperatures.

In a nod to religious leaders, however, the council also called for a  redesign of the marathon route to minimize disruption of Sunday church  services.

Race organizers agreed to provide access to all houses of worship along  the route, and to remove street barricades as the last runners pass.

For 23 of the last 24 years, the marathon had been held on the first  Sunday in March. But when Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt bought the  marathon from a struggling Chicago company last September, the council bowed to  religious leaders who complained the street closures associated with the race  often blocked access to churches. 

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