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Council moves L.A. Marathon back to March, shifts route

Ending weeks of negotiations, the City Council voted today to move the date of the Los Angeles Marathon from Memorial Day in May back to a Sunday in March -- the month used in 23 of the last 24 years.

On a 12-0 vote, the council scheduled the marathon for March 21 and agreed to alter the location dramatically, allowing for a “Stadium to the Sea” route that begins at Dodger Stadium and ends at the ocean.

“I’m convinced this is the right date and the right route for the race,” said Russ Pillar, president of the Los Angeles Marathon.

The council voted last year to move the marathon to Memorial Day after a series of churches along the race route complained that the event had a significant effect on Sunday worship. That decision upset many of the runners in this year’s race and reduced participation by roughly 5,000 competitors, according to marathon officials.

The L.A. Marathon organization had to reimburse 2,000 runners who thought the event would be held in March, said Howard Sunkin, senior vice president with the McCourt Group, which owns both the marathon and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

City officials also had feared that an excessively hot Memorial Day could dramatically increase the number of medical emergencies among runners, taxing the city’s hospitals and paramedics.

Since then, marathon officials have offered a series of concessions to the city’s religious leaders to win support for a Sunday race. Under an agreement approved by the council, race organizers will move the start time from 7:20 a.m. to 6:55 a.m. The route also will be changed to avoid a greater number of churches.

Although the race will likely move through Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and West Los Angeles, the final route has not been determined, Sunkin said. “It will move from the stadium to the sea. Exactly where at the sea is still up in the air,” he said.

L.A. Marathon also agreed to notify every church affected by the event 90 days before the race and take steps to allow parishioners to gain access to churches along the route.

Church leaders voiced relief with the process used by the city, saying their concerns about the effects of the race were taken more seriously than in previous years. Still, one religious leader warned that church leaders not involved in the talks still might have issues with the event.

“They may not all jump up and say hallelujah,” said the Very Rev. Father John S. Bakas of the Saint Sophia Cathedral Orthodox Community, appearing before the council.

-- David Zahniser at L.A. City Hall

Comments () | Archives (15)


When I ran the LA Marathon in 2000 and 2001, several churches greeted us with encouragement, aid stations, and music. Nuns handed out Vaseline while the Hallelujah Chorus played over loudspeakers - members of a Sikh congregation gave out hot tea with cream and sugar - very welcome on a cold March morning. It is only one Sunday a year.
Churches should look at the opportunity to minister to thousands of people, not at the inconveniences.

The 23 years that the marathon was ran on a Sunday, the runners and the Church folk all co existed. The Church folks grumbled 23 years, yet the marathon went on. I never did understand all of the fuss, it is just for ONE day. ONE day, I always felt the Church folk were selfish, that ONE day was soooo much fun, so exciting seeing all of the runners, the music, everything. The people from all over that came to LA for that ONE day. Go figure!

This is great news, running from Dodger Stadium to the ocean sounds great. Church attendance is all about money. The superstitious and fearful can pray to their imaginary friends from anywehre, can't they? Going to church is about passing that collection plate around. I'd rather be running.

Good Job with moving the race back to March, now just one more thing. If there's a race to the sea from Dodger stadium, how do participants get from the parking at the finish line to the start line? Please reconsider this idea and can we please stick with the finish and start being in the same vicinity.

Hey Church leaders stop crying over ONE Sunday !!!!
Only in LA does this happen

Hey Church leaders stop crying over ONE Sunday
Only in LA does this happen

Church people are a lot like pet people - tedious. Get out of the way with your dumb special interests and let the rest of us have some fun for a day - jeesh!

Kudos to the Council for returning the race to March.

Running from Dodger Stadium SOUNDS great. However, it will be a logistical nightmare. Though Chavez Ravine is a great staging area (vast open space and parking), the transportation infrastructure does not allow for easy access of 20,000 people to/from the beach.

9-time LAM finisher

You mean I no longer have run for my life (pun intended!) when the route takes me through some questionable areas of Los Angeles? (Good push for a PR tho)

As for the heat and hills of Dodger stadium, it shouldn't bother us as much if the route started there. Imagine starting the 26.2 flying downhill... Weeee!!!

Why should churches, who pay no taxes, have such influence over an event that brings revenue to the city?

This race and other marathons should be celebrated, not debated. I have run this race twice and the New York Marathon three times. LA should take a cue from New Yorkers on this one. The New York Marathon is a celebration of the city and the diversity of its people.

Obstructing this race is counter to the very morals taught in churches, temples and synagogues worldwide. The basic morals of savoring life and seeking purity in spirit and generosity of the heart are inexplicably lost in this situation. If we are to truly live by the teachings of our religions, what better way to do it than to view and embrace the human spirit in one of its finest moments.

A marathon isn't about the individual. It's about our very human race and how we can collectively share a wide variety of experiences in a singular moment in time. It is a test of will and commitment and dedication. These are very same traits that so many of religions preach and value as elements to enlightenment.

By sharing this experience with others, people learn one of the most valuable lessons: empathy. We know how the runner next to us feeling and help them if they need it. We cry when they cry, we raise our arms in triumph together. We do it all together. We lose all biases and are, for one moment, simply human.

Why not take this opportunity to show all of Los Angeles how wonderfully diverse we are and invite your followers to view and celebrate the marathon.

I for one loved running through all five boroughs of New York City and seeing practically every religion represented along the way. It makes me proud to be an American and even more proud to run.

So now...there is no Metro access at either the end or beginning point of the LA marathon. Does that make sense?

Absolutely ridiculous, I'm a 23 year veteran of the LA Marathon and I'm sick to my stomach. I not only have to drive 35+ miles to the ocean just to be shuttled back 26 miles to Dodger Stadium to run 26 miles to then fight LA traffic back home for another 35+ miles. This really sucks, did they not learn anything from the Universal disaster?
Finally got it right again this year (except for the date),

see the url name :


accomodate is wrong, the correct spelling is accommodate. Two cs and two ms.


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