By STEVEN HERBERT
City News Service
Gobena resumed the success of African women at the Los Angeles
Marathon today and earned a $50,000 bonus for being the first overall
finisher, while fellow Ethiopian Gebo Burka was the men's winner.
And for the amateur runners, 88 degree afternoon temperatures and a hot sun caused widespread overheating. About 1,000 runners sought medical aid to varying degrees along the race, and air conditioned-buses were stationed in downtown Santa Monica to cool people off.
Gobena completed the 26-mile, 385-yard course from Dodger Stadium to near the Santa Monica Pier in two hours, 27 minutes, 37 seconds. Tigist Tufa of Ethiopia was the women's runner-up in a personal-best time of 2:28:04, while Lauren Kleppin of Mammoth Lakes was third in 2:28:48, also a personal-best.
The elite women's field received a 17-minute, 41-second head start over their male counterparts, based on a formula involving the lifetime best times of the top seven male and female runners. The bonus has been won by women runners seven times and men four times.
Burka won in 2:10:37, his fastest time since 2009. Lani Rutto of Kenya was second at 2:10:48, while Erick Mose of Kenya, the 2013 winner, was third with 2:12:56.
Gobena was the fourth African to win the women's race in the past five years and the third Ethiopian.
Burka's victory in the men's race was the second by a non-Kenyan in the past 16 years. The other was by Markos Geneti in 2011.
Gobena, who finished second in the 2009 race, passed Tufa in the 21st mile on the Veterans Administration grounds and kept the lead for the rest of the race.
“I wanted to run my own race," the 31-year-old Gobena said through an interpreter. “I knew I was better prepared.”
Gobena said she would use her winnings to help pay for a house she is building.
Burka took the lead from Rutto in the 22nd mile in Brentwood and held off his attempts to re-take the lead.
“(Through) the instruction of my coach, I cut my amount of exercise, so I was able to save me energy and accomplish my goals,” Burka said through an interpreter.
The male and female winners will each receive $25,000, the second-place finishers $12,500 and the third-place finishers $10,000.
The estimated field of 25,000 left Dodger Stadium under sunny skies with some clouds, a light wind and a 58-degree temperature.
The temperature rose to 88 at the Santa Monica Airport at 2 p.m., with the heat causing problems for some runners.
Firefighters had taken 22 runners to hospitals as of 3:30 p.m., Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief Carlos Calvillo said.
A 28-year-old man suffered a heart attack and had to be resuscitated by paramedics, said Calvillo.
One person had a seizure, one had a shortness of breath and two others were hospitalized for exhaustion. About 1,000 runners sought help at the 10 medical aid stations along the course, Calvillo said.
The race, officially known as the ASICS LA Marathon, sold out for the second consecutive year and third time in its history.
The race also sold out in 2010, the first time it was run on the “Stadium to the Sea” course, when registration ended at a record of 26,054.
New security regulations affecting participants and spectators were in effect as the race was run for the first time since the Boston Marathon bombing. Security and screening checkpoints were added at the start and finish areas, and spectators were banned from the finish line area in Santa Monica.
Two runners interviewed following the race said there had no problems in dealing with the increased security and felt it was necessary because of the Boston Marathon bombing.
In the days leading up to
the race, participants told marathon officials they appreciated “that we
were doing some additional measures,” Marathon CEO
Tracey Russell told City News Service.
“Safety is our No. 1 priority,” Russell said. “The great support we have from our city agencies allowed us to add some additional resources.”