OCEAN AVENUE — A sea of runners made their way to Santa Monica on Sunday all hoping for Los Angeles Marathon glory.
What they found were unseasonably high temperatures and varying degrees of either dehydration or just plain fatigue.
A number of runners had to seek medical assistance following Sunday’s race with most complaining that the temperatures, which reached the mid 80s, were to blame for their distress.
At least 20 people were transported to area hospitals and another 1,000 sought help at medical tents set up near the finish line on Ocean Avenue.
Other than the few who were overcome by the heat, most runners of the massive race were pleased with the outcome and walked away with their finisher medals swinging back and forth and a feeling of accomplishment.
“I couldn’t think of a better place to finish a race,” said Sam O’Melveny, a first time marathoner who is a senior at Dana Point High School. “The course was just gorgeous.”
Those tasked with treating runners after the race said that there was no one way to tell if people needed assistance.
“It’s a person-to-person kind of thing,” said Dale Clausen, who works for American Ambulance, which serves Santa Monica. “You just have to keep a close eye out for what may be bothering them.”
As of noon, not many needed treatment, but as the temperatures rose, that changed.
The elite runners made their way through the course so quickly that they didn’t feel the ill effects of heat, but it was the mass of “everyday” runners that would encounter hardships.
It was that group that included a 28-year-old man who suffered a heart attack on the course. Another had a seizure. But, besides those few isolated instances, most finished with little trouble beyond blisters and sore muscles.
The heat may have changed the dynamic of this year’s marathon a bit, but it was the bombing at last year’s Boston Marathon that really changed things up.
In addition to the regular group of Santa Monica Police Department personnel that usually patrol each year’s race, the FBI and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department added to the security detail.
Additional barricades were erected surrounding the finish line area, with some streets like Arizona Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard layered with two lines of security checkpoints. And, unlike years past, Palisades Park was off limits to spectators from California Avenue to Santa Monica Boulevard.
“We’re taking nothing lightly,” said Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks. “We want people to come to Santa Monica and enjoy the Los Angeles Marathon.”
SMPD spokesman Sgt. Jay Moroso said that, from a law enforcement perspective, nothing eventful took place. There were no arrests and the department didn’t have many calls for service.
“We had a very quite day,” Moroso said. “There was nothing significant to report.”