Enhanced Measures to Protect Against Coronavirus Planned for LA Marathon

Race organizers have increased the number of hand sanitizer stations at the starting line at Dodger Stadium, along the 26-mile, 385-yard course and the finish festival in Santa Monica.

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The 35th annual Los Angeles Marathon will be run Sunday with public health officials encouraging runners and spectators to take enhanced measures to protect themselves from the spread of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is recommending that spectators who are sick with even mild illness to remain at home. Those planning to attend should engage in "social distancing," keeping at least 6 feet away from other people who are not family members or friends.

Public Health is also advising spectators not to share food or water bottles, avoid shaking hands, and frequently wash hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, particularly before eating, after using the restroom and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

Runners among the record field of 27,150 from all 50 states and a record 78 nations who have entered the race are being asked by Public Health not participate if they feel sick even with mild illness.

Public Health is recommending runners wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before the start of the race, not to shake hands with other participants or the public along the course, not to share water or food with other runners and frequently use hand sanitizer provided along the course.

Race organizers have increased the number of hand sanitizer stations at the starting line at Dodger Stadium, along the 26-mile, 385-yard course and the finish festival in Santa Monica.

Public Health is not recommending the suspension of any large public events, including the marathon, director Barbara Ferrer said. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said ``There's no reason to cancel it."


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Entries from runners with a mailing address in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Italy, South Korea and Iran have been deferred to the 2021 race, about 0.06% of the field, according to Murphy Reinschreiber, chief operating officer of the McCourt Foundation, which organizes the race.

The U.S. Department of State has issued a "do not travel to" advisory to those nations.

More than 25,000 are expected to run Sunday on the 26.2-mile "stadium to the sea" course from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica, according to Dan Cruz, the marathon's head of communications.

There is traditionally about a 10% dropoff from the number of entrants to the number of runners, Cruz told City News Service. The entrants include 131 runners who have competed in all 34 previous editions of the race.

The race is set to start at 6:30 a.m. with the wheelchair field, followed at 6:42 a.m. by the handcycle racers, the elite women at 6:45 a.m. and the elite men and the remainder of the field at 6:55 a.m.

The temperature at Dodger Stadium at the start of the race is forecast to be 53 degrees, with relative humidity at 80%, mostly cloudy skies, light easterly winds and a slight chance of rain, according to the National Weather Service.

When the elite runners cross the finish line in Santa Monica about two hours, 10 minutes later, the temperature is expected to be 58 degrees with relatively humidity at 65%, according to the weather service.

Most of the field will be running with temperatures from the mid-50s to lower-60s with winds between 4-8 mph, according to Carol Smith, a weather service meteorologist, who described the conditions for a marathon as "very

From Dodger Stadium, runners will head through downtown Los Angeles, Echo Park, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood, Brentwood and Santa Monica.

The previous record for entries was 26,054 in 2010, the first year of the "stadium to the sea" course. That race also had the most finishers, 22,580.

There were 25,500 entrants and 20,608 finishers in 2019. The race has had the fourth-largest field among U.S. marathons each year from 2016-19.

The previous high for nations with runners entered is 66, set last year.

The race has 74 official charities, four more than last year, with at least $3.3 million expected to be raised.

The race's 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, a free marathon training program for at-risk middle school and high school students;
-- St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital;
-- Train 4 Autism, which seeks to raise awareness and funds for research and treatment of those living with autism and their families; and
-- Team World Vision, which provides clean water for children and families in Africa.

Featured charities include:
-- The Justin Turner Foundation's mission, which supports homeless veterans, children (and their families) battling life-altering illnesses and diseases and youth baseball organizations;
-- The Pujols Family Foundation, which seeks to meet the needs of children and families who live with Down syndrome; improve the quality of life for impoverished people in the Dominican Republic through education, medial relief and tangible goods; and provide ``extraordinary experiences for children with disabilities and/or life-threatening illnesses'';
-- the Widows, Orphans and Disabled Firemen's Fund, the official charity of the Los Angeles Firemen's Relief Association; and
-- Kitten Rescue, which finds homes for unwanted, homeless cats and kittens.

There will be 40 entertainment zones with featured entertainment centers at Broadway and Alpine Street in Chinatown, First Street and Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, Sunset Boulevard and Fountain Avenue in Silver Lake and Hollywood Boulevard and Vermont Avenue in Los Feliz.

The Beverly Hills portion of the race will have live entertainment for the first time in the 11 years the race has been run through the city.

There will be performances by classical pianist Hamid Pasha, the Great American Swing Band and The Hollywood Stones, a Rolling Stones tribute band.

There will be 63 charity cheer zones along the course.

The men's professional field includes Elisha Barno, the 2017 and 2019 champion, and fellow Kenyan, Weldon Kirui, the 2016 and 2018 winner. The men's race has been won by a Kenyan every year since 1999, except for 2011 and 2014, when it was won by Ethiopians.

A U.S. runner last won in 1994.

Kenyan Antonina Kwambai has the fastest personal best in the women's professional field, two hours, 27 minutes, 43 seconds.

Kwambai's expected key challengers are expected to be fellow Kenyans Jane Kibll, the 2019 California International Marathon winner, and Margaret Muriuki, who won the 2019 Honolulu Marathon in December in her debut at the distance.

African women have won eight of the last 10 races, with runners from the former Soviet Union winning the other two times. A U.S. runner last won the women's race in 1994.

The race has a purse of $100,000, with equal prize money for men and women.

The top five male and female finishers will receive prize money.

The winners will each receive $23,000, the runners-up $12,000 and third-place finishers $7,000. The top American man and woman will each receive a $2,000 bonus.

A separate prize purse of $9,000 is offered for the wheelchair competitors, with the men's and women's wheelchair winners each receiving $2,500.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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