What a day for Los Angeles! The new Los Angeles Marathon route sent runners and spectators to a number of L.A.’s most famous streets and landmarks, including Dodgers Stadium, Hollywood Blvd., Sunset Blvd., and Rodeo Drive, before one last turn from San Vicente Blvd. and a spectacular finish along Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, overlooking the Pacific. I biked up to the finish line, watched a bunch of the estimated 25,000 runners finish, surrounded by many thousands of enthusiastic spectators, and then checked out the finish line party in the nearby Santa Monica Pier parking lot.
The finish line was very exciting, as what appeared to be tens of thousands of spectators cheered on their friends, loved ones, and strangers striding or limping across in the somewhat cool and overcast weather. The announcer read the names of many runners as they were finishing. A number of spectators held aloft hand-made signs encouraging particular racers.
The nearby party at the Pier parking lot had a very helpful free bike valet service. There was food, drinks, live music from the Los Angeles area’s Alex Band, former lead singer of The Calling (who repeatedly played his former band’s two hits, “Wherever You Will Go” and “Our Lives”), free samples, tents hosted by the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce and others, and tons of people, including many runners walking (and often hobbling) around, wrapped in L.A. Marathon space blankets that were given to them upon finishing. The Pier itself was also swamped with people, some of whom probably had no interest in the Marathon and merely wanted to check out Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. or the amusement park rides. In all, I estimate that there were well over 100,000 people in the area near the finish line and at the Pier.
The one failure I noticed was the inability of race officials or the police to get the numerous pedestrians across Ocean Avenue to the Pier. There was only one small, unmarked crossing point just steps from the corner of Ocean and Colorado (which dead-ends at the famous Pier sign), and pedestrians were forced to wait for a long time before they were permitted to cross. This was probably 100 yards past the finish line, so there was no rational reason why more pedestrians could not be permitted to cross the street there. I know it was a failure because one person who was supposed to meet me at the Pier got as far as the other side of the street, — I even saw her there — waited a long time, was not permitted to cross, gave up, and went home. Additionally, I suspect that some area motorists were inconvenienced and annoyed with the road closures necessitated by the Marathon. Finally, I wonder whether some Angelenos feel that their neighborhoods were overlooked by the City today, as they might feel is the case on other days as well.
Nevertheless, from where I stood at the finish line, thinking about all those runners who weaved their way through the City today, it seemed that the Marathon successfully brought Los Angeles together, both literally and figuratively, at least for a day.