DOWNTOWN — It looks like the L.A. Marathon’s “Stadium to the Sea” route is here to stay.
The only details in doubt are some of the finer points of the massive race’s finish line and end-of-route festival.
Santa Monica city and marathon officials said this week that the finish line may be pushed further north from last year’s Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard location to allow the throngs of runners extra room to cool down following the grueling contest. Also, it looks as if the festival will be moved to a vacant lot adjacent to the Civic Center instead of the 1550 Lot just north of the Santa Monica Pier, Assistant City Manager Elaine Polachek said.
“It just got really bunched-up [at the finish],” Polachek said. “With the volunteers, runners and spectators it was just too crowded near the finish.”
The decision to move the festival had a few logistical issues behind it. For one, the location of last year’s festival, where runners were reunited with family, friends and belongings, forced participants to walk down the pier’s ramp, which was uncomfortable for many finishers, Polachek said. Also, the move would free up the 1550 Lot for additional parking.
In addition to the minor changes in Santa Monica, marathon officials added that the route from the start at Dodger Stadium through Downtown Los Angeles may be altered slightly, but promised that the landmark-studded route would look very much like last year’s race.
“I don’t know that you could come up with a better route for Los Angeles,” said Peter Abraham, the L.A. Marathon’s creative director. “There will always be minor changes, but generally speaking, we have no intentions of changing the route.”
The only hurdle remaining for the marathon to return to Santa Monica is the permit process. The City Council last year amended a law allowing for at least one full marathon and one half marathon each year. The permit does not require council approval, but Polachek said that it would be processed through the city’s Community Recreation Division.
Marathon Race Director Nick Curl said that the necessary paperwork has been submitted and is awaiting confirmation.
Aside from Santa Monica, race officials are also in talks with the cities of Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills to approve required permits. According to marathon officials, final approvals are eminent.
A major benefit of the new route last year was a record turnout of 26,000 runners. Marathon officials, who recently opened registration for the March 20, 2011 race, said that they are planning to expand the numbers, but were reluctant to cite a number.
“We expect a little bigger turnout,” Abraham said. “We finally have a destination marathon that attracted runners from 43 countries and 50 states.”