Wesely Korir of Kenya looks to the sky after finishing first in the 2010 LA Marathon which, for the first time, finished on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. (photo by Byron Kennerly)

DOWNTOWN — In a field of 25,000, there were bound to be some characters.

Among them were Patrick McDonagh and five friends who ran the race dressed up in full Elvis Presley regalia, complete with wigs and white spandex jumpsuits, blaring rock ‘n’ roll from a stereo on a pushcart and drinking beer instead of Gatorade.

It’s not a strategy you’ll find in the official L.A. Marathon training guide, but it seemed to work for the crew of Presleys, all experienced marathoners with scores of races under their sequined belts.

“I’ve met all my goals in running, so what a way to have fun,” said McDonagh, who completed his 49th marathon Sunday.

Hours after the elite runners finished the race, marathoners continued to cross the finish line on Ocean Avenue at Santa Monica Boulevard in droves, cheered on by a crowd that packed the sidewalks down the final stretch.

“The people just made it so uplifting,” said Michael Seguin, a Los Angeles police officer who was running his first marathon.

It wasn’t a postcard perfect beach day, but for the runners the overcast sky and cool 68 degree afternoon temperature was about as good as it gets.

“The weather was perfect,” said Christy Araujo-Henderson, who called Sunday’s race her favorite of the five marathons she’s completed. “I can’t say anything bad about it.”

The L.A. Marathon’s new route that brought the race to Santa Monica for the first time didn’t go off without a hitch — there was a late start because of a traffic jam at the race’s Dodger Stadium starting point — but officials in Santa Monica said the massive crowd that turned out for the race had been well behaved and there were no serious injuries reported by mid-afternoon.

Publicity surrounding the new “Stadium to the Sea” route helped attract the largest field of runners in the event’s history.

Peggy Hoyle, who traveled from Washington D.C. to run the race, her third marathon, said she was among those attracted by the new course.

“It was always interesting — there’s always something to see,” she said of the route, which went through Downtown Los Angeles before heading through Hollywood, the Sunset Strip and Beverly Hills to reach Santa Monica. “It could have been a little bit better organized,” she said.

MIckey Takahashi, who has run in seven L.A. marathons, gave the new route a good review but agreed things could have gone more smoothly. He said he waited an hour after finishing the race to retrieve the personal items he’d left with race organizers at Dodger Stadium to be transported to the finish line.

Michelle Mesta, 14, who ran her first marathon after training with the group Students Run L.A., called it an “overwhelming” experience, but one she was glad to have had.

“I learned how to push myself even more,” she said.


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