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L.A. Marathon: Volunteers along the route ready to go

Water truck

At the intersection of Bundy Drive and San Vicente Boulevard in West L.A., just shy of the 22-mile marker for this year's L.A. Marathon, several volunteers huddled early Sunday morning, trying to keep warm as they waited for the big race to begin.

The marathon officially begins at 7:30 a.m. The fastest female runners were expected to come through here at about 9:12 a.m., the men at 9:16 a.m. and the largest pack at 11:09 a.m.

One trio of volunteers, asked to help pass out water, were waiting at 6:30 a.m. for supplies and water to arrive. Across the street, paramedics chatted with each other while others helped set up a medical tent nearby.

PHOTOS: The 2013 Los Angeles Marathon

"That's where the action will be," volunteer Avi Carmi said.

Carmi, a software engineer, said he is one of dozens of volunteers helping out as radio operators during the marathon. He said he had no particular attachment to the event but organizers needed the help.

"They needed a volunteer and begged and begged," he said.

FULL COVERAGE: 28th Los Angeles Marathon

Meanwhile, the last bicyclists from Sunday morning's Marathon Crash Race continued to trickle down San Vicente as the sun began to rise.

A few hours before the start of the marathon, thousands of bicyclists crash the blocked-off marathon course for their own race before runners show up.

It's a chance to hit the streets with no traffic and an organized course. Now an annual event, the pre-marathon ride draws cyclists from across the state and elsewhere.

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- Ari Bloomekatz in West L.A.

Photo: Water truck makes delivery in West L.A. Credit: Ari Bloomekatz / Los Angeles Times

LA Marathon: Runners stake their places along the starting line

Photo: The starting area of the Los Angeles Marathon moments before the runners begin. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times
Family and friends of runners shivered as they staked their places along the starting line of the L.A. marathon at Dodger Stadium on Sunday.

Cecia Garcia and her sister Emely were waiting for their father, who on his 54th birthday is running his 21st marathon.

He hopes to better his time from last year, when rain slowed him down.

FULL COVERAGE: 28th Los Angeles Marathon

"That's his birthday wish," Emely said.

They plan to see him off then rush over to Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake, where Emely will jump in and run a few miles with her dad. They will then meet him at every other mile along the route.

"It's strategically planned," Emely said.

PHOTOS: The 2013 Los Angeles Marathon

While holding a sign that said "Go, Dad Go!" Cecia added: "Cheering for others really unifies the whole community here."

About 24,000 runners were expected to take to the streets Sunday morning and participate in the 28th Asics L.A. Marathon.

The 26.2-mile event begins at Dodger Stadium and will wind through Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills before ending at the intersection of Ocean Avenue and California Avenue in Santa Monica.

In this year's men's field, Kenyan Simon Njoroge, winner of last year's men's race, is again a top contender.

Deena Kastor, the U.S. women's record holder, is among eight elite female runners.

Winners of the men's and women's races each receive $25,000.

There is also a $50,000 gender challenge bonus for the first runner to cross the finish line. The women will start 18 minutes 35 seconds ahead of the men — the difference in time between event records in the men's and women's divisions.

Winners in the wheelchair divisions receive $2,500.

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-- Stephen Ceasar at Dodger Stadium

Photo: The starting area of the Los Angeles Marathon moments before the runners begin. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

L.A. Marathon: Runners prepare at Dodger Stadium for 26.2-mile trek

Runners

Thousands of runners stretched and warmed up before sunrise in the Dodger Stadium parking lot Sunday, preparing for the start of the L.A. Marathon.

About 24,000 runners were expected to take to the streets at 7:30 a.m. Sunday for the 28th Asics L.A. Marathon.

The 26.2-mile event begins at Dodger Stadium and winds through Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills before ending at the intersection of Ocean Avenue and California Avenue in Santa Monica.

Send us your L.A. Marathon photos

Runners sat along the third-base line in the stadium, eating breakfast under the glow of the stadium lights. Others jogged in place next to the ketchup and mustard carts.

In the parking lot, thousands of runners gathered, taking pictures and trying to keep warm as they awaited some warmth from the sun.

There, Euan Tan of Echo Park ate a sandwich and excitedly walked around with Caroline Tan, of Highland Park.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A. Marathon

The 17-year-olds are both students at Marshall High School in Silverlake and prepared for the race by running the hills of Griffith Park. They are members of Students Run L.A. An organization that had about 3,000 students they mentor and prepare for the race and in their academics.

Caroline, who is running her first marathon, was excited for the challenge.

"I'll be that way until probably mile 20," she said.

Avid runner Carissa Munder, 23, who lives in Austin, Texas, but is originally from Downey, inspired her friend Shavon Bates, 22, of Long Beach to give it a go.

"I'm so stoked," Bates said.  "It's been on my bucket list."

Munder, who was wearing a green flower bow in her hair and green and yellow argyle socks for St. Patrick's Day, helped Shavon prepare.

"I trained her," she said with a smile.

Munder awoke at 3:30 a.m. for a jog before heading to Dodger Stadium.

In this year's men's field, Kenyan Simon Njoroge, winner of last year's men's race, is again a top contender. Deena Kastor, the U.S. women's record holder, is among eight elite female runners.

Winners of the men's and women's races each receive $25,000.

There is also a $50,000 gender challenge bonus for the first runner to cross the finish line. The women will start 18 minutes 35 seconds ahead of the men — the difference in time between event records in the men's and women's divisions.

Winners in the wheelchair divisions receive $2,500.

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-- Stephen Ceasar at Dodger Stadium

Photo: Rosa Cazares, 43, of Monterey Park and Daniel Sangiorgio, 45, of Fountain Valley warm up for the Los Angeles Marathon at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

L.A. Marathon officials warn of street closures Sunday

 

L.A. Marathon officials are warning residents to prepare for rolling street closures throughout the city Sunday for the event, which is expected to draw more than 24,000 participants.

The course of the 26.2-mile race extends from  Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica.  Major streets along the marathon’s path that will be blocked off during the event include Sunset Boulevard (in downtown, Echo Park and West Hollywood), Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, Santa Monica Boulevard (in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and West L.A.),  and San Vicente Boulevard in Santa Monica. Caltrans will also close some freeway offramps.

The street closures will begin at 4 a.m. near the stadium, and will lift on a rolling basis over the course of the day, starting at 9 a.m. on the eastern end of the route and ending late in the afternoon closer to the finish line.  Some 101, 110 and 405 freeway entrance and exit ramps will also be closed during the race. 

The marathon begins at 6:55 a.m. for racers in wheelchairs, 7 a.m. for racers with hand cycles and 7:25 a.m. for all other participants. 

FULL COVERAGE: L.A. Marathon

The city Department of Transportation said it will strictly enforce a restricted, no-parking policy for the marathon during listed times. Vehicles that have not been moved will be cited and impounded at the nearest official police garage

Course maps and event information are available at LAmarathon.com or trafficinfo.lacity.org. Those seeking to use public transportation can contact Metro at (323) GO METRO (466-3876) or visit the agency’s trip planner site at metro.net.

Detailed information about street closures, including grids detailing major and peripheral street closures along and near the race route, is available at the L.A. Marathon website. 

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L.A. archbishop to speak on Pope Francis at Spanish-language Mass

Archibishop

Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez will celebrate Spanish-language Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Sunday and will address the election of Pope Francis, the first pontiff from Latin America, in his homily, officials said.

Gomez will preside over the 12:30 p.m. Mass, the first Spanish-language Mass at the cathedral since Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope on Wednesday. He chose the papal name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi.

Pope Francis, 76, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, is the first pope from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. 

The new pope, the son of Italian immigrants, is the 266th in the church’s history. He succeeds the late John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who abruptly resigned last month.

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Photo: Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez in 2010. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times.

Equestrian area in Aliso Canyon Park opens Saturday

Aliso Canyon Park
The first public equestrian area in the northwest San Fernando Valley opens Saturday morning at Aliso Canyon Park in Porter Ranch.

The park's 69 acres of open space were acquired by the city of Los Angeles in 2005. In 2010, the city obtained grant money to make improvements, including restrooms, picnic tables, lighting and landscaping.

Equestrian amenities include trailer parking, a staging area, cross ties and an automated horse waterer. For pedestrians, there are walking paths with trail markers. The environment remains mostly natural, including a creek and meadows with California native plant species.

An opening ceremony was scheduled for 10 a.m. and includes remarks from Councilman Mitchell Englander and other city officials as well as a dressage demonstration by Ride On Therapeutic Horsemanship.

The park is north of the 118 Freeway, off Rinaldi Street east of Reseda Boulevard.

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Photo credit: City of Los Angeles

O.C. deputies search for suspect who took boy's pants

An attack on a 12-year-old boy who was thrown to the ground and had his pants stolen in a south Orange County playground was probably a strange prank and not an intended sexual assault, as authorities first thought, sheriff's deputies said.

Two children playing on a swing set at Ladera Ranch Elementary School were approached Sunday about 7:30 p.m. by a suspect wearing a hoodie and a bandana on his face and wielding a pocket knife, said Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

One of the children ran to get help, and the other child was dragged 10 to 15 feet, ordered to take off his pants and then told to take off his underwear, Amormino said.

The child grabbed wood chips from the playground and hurled them at the suspect’s face before running and flagging down a motorist, who called 911.

The incident prompted the Sheriff’s Department to send more than two dozen investigators to the Ladera Ranch area. Deputies knocked on about 700 doors as part of their investigation, Amormino said.

After about 150 phone calls from concerned residents and about 100 interviews, the department discovered that two days before the incident, another young male had his pants taken in the same area.

“It was the same method of operation but not reported to police,” Amormino said.

Investigators now believe that the suspect could be a juvenile, and are examining a grainy video of a person of interest seen leaving the park.

“I do want to put the community’s fears at ease,” Amormino said. “It was not a kidnapping attempt and it was not a sexual assault attempt.”

Continue reading »

O.C. marine mammal center nears capacity after sea lion influx

PHOTOS: Caring for sea lion pups

Orange County’s only marine mammal care center this week declared a state of emergency, saying it is nearing capacity while caring for an influx of malnourished and dehydrated sea lion pups coming ashore.

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach over the weekend admitted 18 sea lions. Twelve came in Saturday, the largest single-day total in the center's 42-year history, according to a news release.

As of Sunday, the center had 86 animals in its care, 84 of them sea lions.

PHOTOS: Caring for sea lion pups

"The last time the center received this many sea lions this early in the season was 1998," said Melissa Sciacca, director of development at the nonprofit center.

Most of the malnourished or dehydrated animals are 8 to 9 months old, Sciacca said.

Los Angeles County is also seeing an increase in admitted sea lion pups.

Officials at the Laguna Beach center and Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro could not speculate what may be responsible for the recent sea lion surge.

"We're a hospital," Sciacca said. "Our job is to get the animal home. Often the answers aren't found until the event is over and we're getting a bigger picture."

The Fort MacArthur center is Los Angeles County’s only marine mammal facility and is experiencing a similar surge in admitted sea lion pups. The center has taken in more than 280 animals since the beginning of the year, director David Bard said.

He said the center typically sees 300 to 500 animals a year.

"Biologists have noted an increase in sea lion pup births and a decrease in the weight of those pups," Bard said.

Resources for treating the sea lions are slim with the influx. Space is at a premium at the Laguna center while money is needed for medicine, food and vehicle transportation to and from beaches.

Pacific Marine Mammal Center has two rescue trucks with specialized crates to house the animals en route to the center, Sciacca said.

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Photo: A California sea lion pup recovers Feb. 14 in Laguna Beach. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Lion attack: Fresno County cat sanctuary reopens to public

Tiger

A Fresno County wild cat sanctuary reopened to the public Sunday for the first time since intern Diana Hanson was killed when a lion attacked her at the park last week.

At noon, about two dozen visitors joined stricken staff members of Project Survival’s Cat Haven in a moment of silence for the young woman whose life passion was working with big cats.

Hanson, 26, was killed at the Dunlap park Wednesday, when a 4-year-old male lion named Cous Cous attacked her. Another volunteer tried to lure the lion away from Hanson, but by the time authorities reached Hanson, she was dead. The cat was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies.

During Sunday’s gathering, the haven's founder Dale Anderson reiterated remarks he made earlier at a news conference that the staff who raised the lion Cous Cous since he was a cub had found no fault with deputies' shooting the animal to get to Hanson.

"People want to put Cous Cous in the same category as her and it’s not the same," he said. "But I'm going to miss my boy."

Members of Hanson’s family have said they believe her death was an accident.

A preliminary autopsy suggested that Hanson died quickly from a fractured neck and “some suffocation,” said Fresno County Coroner David Hadden. The neck injury appeared to have come from a swipe of the lion’s paw.

The body had “numerous claw marks and bite damage” elsewhere, probably inflicted after the initial swipe, Hadden said.

Project Survival's Cat Haven houses lions, tigers, cheetahs and jaguars in enclosures on a boulder-strewn hillside about half a mile off the main road to Kings Canyon National Park. The nonprofit sanctuary, which raises money for conservation causes, gets about 10,000 visitors a year.

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-- Diana Marcum in Dunlap

Photo: Morgan Cabral, 8, watches leopards while holding a toy tiger he bought at Project Survival's Cat Haven in Dunlap on Sunday. The park reopened for the first time after an intern was killed by a lion last week. Credit: Diana Marcum / Los Angeles Times

Truck crashes into downtown building, killing 1, injuring others [Updated]

A pickup truck crashed into a downtown Los Angeles storefront Sunday, killing one person and injuring several others, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The vehicle struck the building near Broadway and 4th streets at about 2 p.m., LAFD spokesman Erik Scott said. No other information was known about the victims.

[Updated at 3:10 p.m.: A 52-year-old woman was killed and four victims were transported to hospitals in serious condition, according to Scott. Two other victims were also transported but suffered minor injuries. All of the victims were ages 30-70. The truck went partially through a business window at 348 S. Broadway, the address of Casa India Restaurant, whose sign said it sells Mexican and Salvadorean food. The structural integrity of the building was not compromised, Scott said.]

“Most of these accidents start off with a few patients and end up growing so we just have to wait and see and let everyone do their job,” Scott said.

Los Angeles police from the Central Community Police Station and the Central Traffic Division responded to the incident.

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-- Corina Knoll

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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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