CITYWIDE ‚Äî On Sunday, Rick Kissler and his buddy John Chin will drive from Santa Monica out to Dodger Stadium, then turn around and run home.
For the past five years, the finale of the Los Angeles Marathon has been held in Santa Monica, where Kissler lives and where he and Chin first decided to give it a shot back in 1986.
“There‚Äôs a kind of homefield advantage for Santa Monica runners,” Kissler said. “They talk about the proverbial wall you hit at around the 20th mile and being a Santa Monica resident, you‚Äôre going to face a little less of that knowing that you‚Äôre coming home. It‚Äôs like putting on your favorite pair of slippers.”
Kissler and Chin are Legacy Runners, part of a handful who‚Äôve run the 26.2-mile race every year since it started 29 years ago. In the fall of 1985, Kissler saw Chin ‚Äî an acquaintance at the time ‚Äî jogging in Santa Monica. Still pumped up from the Olympic games ‚Äî which had been held in L.A. the year before ‚Äî Kissler convinced Chin to sign up for the inaugural race with him. Almost three decades later, they haven‚Äôt missed one.
This year‚Äôs marathon is Santa Monica‚Äôs first since pressure-cooker bombs detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring hundreds.
In response, the Santa Monica Police Department is stepping up security in and around the raceway, said Sgt. Jay Moroso.
Police will search race-goers who want to watch anywhere along Ocean Avenue between Santa Monica Boulevard and Colorado Avenue.
“The search will be much like that experienced at most concerts or major events,” Moroso said.
SMPD also plans to bring in a portable security tower to watch the crowd along the stretch near the finish line, where family and friends of the 25,000 runners in the sold-out race will be gathered.
As you can imagine, parking might be a challenge. The Downtown Parking Structures will open at 7 a.m. and a number a streets will be closed. Big Blue Bus will be offering free rides around Downtown. City Hall recommends using the ParkMe app, available at www.parkme.com, to find available parking. It currently has advanced parking passes for sale, including one for $10 an hour on Ocean Avenue and another further away from the finish line for $4 for two hours.
Santa Monica has served as the iconic finish since 2010 and the race has served as an economic boon for the Bay City.
As of Tuesday, Santa Monica hotels had already picked up more than 1,450 pre-booked room nights thanks to the marathoners, according to the Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau, up 23 percent from last year.
“L.A. Marathon continues to be an important piece of business for our destination, providing a healthy boost to our hotels, restaurants, attractions and retailers,” said Misti Kerns, president and CEO of the bureau.
Some bars are feeling the boost as well.
“People crossed the finish line and ran right into the bar,” said Beth Rich, who owns The Commons Ale House right down the street from Palisades Park, where the race ends.
Last year, the race fell on St. Patrick‚Äôs Day and Rich was worried that the road closures would hurt business. Not the case.
“We were packed,” she said. “It was really fun. We thought we were going to sell all this Gatorade after they‚Äôd been running for hours. Hell no! They don‚Äôt want a light beer and a protein bar. They want the heavy stuff.”
During the race, because it was cold, family members sat in the bar waiting for their racers to get closer. The pub usually opens up at noon but they‚Äôll be serving marathon-viewers starting at 9 a.m.
“I don‚Äôt remember anyone passing out but I remember that some of the runners, after they finished eating, would just have people pick them up at the curb,” Rich said. “They just ran 26 miles so they didn‚Äôt even want to walk out to their cars.”
As for the weather, who can forget 2011 when it poured rain for hours? This year the forecast is 79 degrees and partly cloudy. Percent chance of rain: zero.
For information on street closures, visit www.smgov.net/lamarathon
On Sunday, March 9, a number of street closures will be in effect to ensure the safety of the participants, spectators and residents.
The ASICS LA Marathon “Stadium to the Sea” course enters Santa Monica at San Vicente Boulevard and 26th Street. The course will continue west on San Vicente and turn south on Ocean Avenue, heading for the finish line at Ocean and California avenues.
Please be aware that no traffic will be allowed to enter or cross the race course from 6 a.m. until police and public safety officials reopen the streets. In Santa Monica, this means traffic will not be able to enter or cross at any point along San Vicente or on Ocean between San Vicente and Colorado Avenue.
Street closures will begin between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. on March 9 and are expected to begin reopening at the east end of the city by 5 p.m. and to be completely reopened by 9 p.m., at the sole discretion of the Santa Monica Police Department. Ocean Avenue may be closed near the finish line until 9 p.m.
The westbound lanes of San Vicente will be open, however, all left turns are prohibited. The eastbound lanes of San Vicente will be closed.
Ocean Avenue will be closed to all vehicle travel between San Vicente and Colorado; advance signage will be installed to notify motorists of the roadway closure at Colorado. The California Incline will be closed.
Southbound Second Street will be closed between Wilshire Boulevard and Colorado. Northbound traffic will not be permitted to turn right at each intersection beginning at 6 a.m. As traffic increases, motorist will be pushed east toward Lincoln Boulevard to access the Santa Monica Freeway.
Northbound Fifth Street will have left turn restrictions between Colorado and Arizona avenues. All traffic will be directed to Wilshire and Fourth Street to access the parking garages.
Main Street will be closed between Pico Boulevard and Colorado Avenue all day for shuttle bus loading.
‚Ä¢ Family and friends can meet runners in the family reunion area located on Ocean Avenue between Broadway and Colorado Avenue. Make arrangements to meet your family at one of the letters of the alphabet along Ocean Avenue.
‚Ä¢ The finish festival is home to the Michelob Ultra Beer Garden, the ASICS LA Marathon Treadmill Challenge, and other entertainment and giveaways. The finish festival is located at the intersection of Second Street and Santa Monica Boulevard and is open from 9 a.m. ‚Äî 3 p.m.
‚Ä¢ The runner pickup zone is located on Ocean Avenue between Moomat Ahiko Way and Pico Boulevard. Vehicles can access the area from the east via Pico Boulevard or from the south via Ocean Avenue.
‚Ä¢ For participants who booked hotels in Downtown L.A. and Beverly Hills, shuttles will be staged at Santa Monica City Hall located at 1685 Main St. Shuttles require a wristband to board. Shuttles will begin departing on a continuous basis at 11 a.m. and will run until 4 p.m.
‚Äî Courtesy City of Santa Monica