Marathon Duathletes: The Few, The Lunatic, The Forsaken

I’d estimate for the upcoming L.A. Marathon in March there will be more than 20,000 participants. For the Acura L.A. Bike Tour that takes place that morning prior to the big race there will probably be about 15,000 riders. Of those 35,000 people there are around 100 so-called “duathletes” who are registered and planning to do both the 21-mile bike ride and the 26.2-mile run. If you’re not one of those 0.2% this post will be so meaningless it might as well be in Aramaic. But as I am one of those 100 and I’ve just learned that the duathlete support implemented by the marathon in 2005 and continued last year will not be in effect this time around, I have to rant as to why this sucks so bad (but at least I’ll spare you and unload on the other side of the jump).

Here’s the deal. In 2005 the marathon implemented its innovative “Spa On Wheels” program where participants in both events were provided with a special front-of-the-pack start position for the bike tour and then upon completion of it were loaded up onto a bus staffed by a slew of masseuses and masseurs and with a police escort clearing the way we were shuttled up to the marathon start line. Very nice. Having done both events for the first time in 2003 without the benefit of such assistance I jumped at such an opportunity, awed that the marathon would go to such great lengths for so few.

Cutting to the chase, here’s why it supersucks that the marathon’s unceremoniously abandoned that assistance this time around: because this year’s duathletes could reaaaaaaaaally benefit from it. Check it: in 2005 and 2006 the bike tour ended near USC and the marathon started relatively close by in downtown. Not a very long haul at all… a few more miles biking. But this year, while the bike tour still ends near USC and the marathon ends at its usual place in front of the Central Library, the new point-to-point marathon course starts all the way up and over Cahuenga Pass at Universal City. So if there’s ever a need for a shuttle it’s this year and the only answer I could get from marathon personnel when I called today to see what was up was that they couldn’t line up a sponsor so oh well you’re totally fucked airkiss ‘kthanksbye.

Abandonment issues aside, there are thoseiehard stubborn fools such as me still headstrong deadset on doing the two events will find an adventure in transit awaiting them but I’m gonna bet it’s a doable commute — albeit one that’s going to involve getting to the bike tour start line at an even more ungodly hour than usual to ensure a better pole position for the 5:50 a.m. start time and then a pedal-dash up to the 7th Street Red Line station for a subway trip to the marathon start line in the Valley.

Here’s how my March 4 schedule’s going to look:

1:30 a.m.: Get up and get going. Cuss a lot.
2:00 a.m.: Arrive by truck downtown still cussing and find a parking space close to the 7th Street Red Line station
2:15 a.m.: Pedal the four miles down to bike tour start corral on MLK Boulevard.
2:30 a.m.: Arrive and get as close to the front as I can, waiting and freezing and waiting some more cussing sporadically as I continue to edge up to the front and simultaneously prevent others from doing so ahead of me. While freezing, dammit.
5:50 a.m.: Begin 21-mile bike ride (thawing out at about Mile No. 16)
7:10 – 7:25 a.m.: Finish 21-mile bike ride and bike back up to truck downtown cussing.
7:30 – 7:45 a.m.: Secure bike and change into running gear in truck
7:45 – 8:05 a.m.: Catch the Red Line to Universal City
8:15 a.m. – 8:35 a.m.: Arrive at Universal City; begin 26.2-mile marathon, cussing from about Mile No. 9 on when the pain sets in solid.
2:30 p.m. – Finish marathon at 5th and Flower; walk back to truck near 7th Street station
2:45 p.m. – Drive home, cussing in relief upon arrival.

Oh yeah… and I plan on phonecam live-blogging the whole damn thing. Yes, I am crazy. Yes, it’s gonna be a long day. Yes, there will be blisters. Yes, there will be agony. Yes, the marathon majorly dropped the ball on the third year of an important and valued component — and then didn’t have the balls to announce the decision. And yes, in a way that makes it all the more unique and worthwhile.

3 thoughts on “Marathon Duathletes: The Few, The Lunatic, The Forsaken”

  1. you know why you’ve been forsaken and denied the Spa on Wheels? bec you are totally hardcore and spas are for pussies. a 21-mile ride stacked against a marathon is a seriously-skewed duathlon, and if you can handle that, you can handle the logistics that’ll get you there.

    good luck!

  2. Thanks Jo-Ann and Finn. And Finn, I’m totally with you regarding the marathon’s choice of name for the shuttle. I always thought “Spa On Wheels” was rather lame.

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