LA Marathon street sign on Pico Boulevard just west of Cloverfield on Tuesday afternoon. (photo by Brandon Wise)

CITYWIDE — On Sunday, March 20, 25,000 people will take to the streets of Los Angeles to put themselves through the grueling 26.2-mile L.A. Marathon. Many more will be on the sidelines, cheering on the runners to the end.

Here in Santa Monica, over 50,000 people are expected to celebrate the big day, and while that translates to excitement and festivities, it also could turn into a nightmare for the unprepared.

Here are some helpful tips to plan out your day:

Road closures

Arriving at the marathon route could cause headaches for the unwary, as many streets will have restricted access, or be shut down entirely.

The last four miles of the race in Santa Monica run west along San Vicente Boulevard, then south on Ocean Avenue to finish at California and Ocean avenues.

City officials will shut down streets at 12 a.m. on March 20, anticipating that the first competitors will cross the finish line at 8 a.m.

The westbound lane of San Vicente Boulevard will be open, although left turns will be prohibited, and the eastbound lanes will be closed.

Ocean Avenue will be closed between San Vicente Boulevard and Colorado Avenue.

Main Street will be closed to motorists between Pico Boulevard and Colorado Avenue, although bicyclists may use it to get to the free bike valet in front of City Hall.

Ocean Avenue will be open north of Pico Boulevard, but only for cars that are picking up runners or going to the Viceroy Hotel. From there, they will have only two options: make a U-turn back onto Pico or take the northbound entrance to the Pacific Coast Highway from the Moomat Ahiko ramp. The southbound route will be closed.

Streets are expected to open fully by 5 p.m.


Whether people drive or bike to the race, they will have a place to stash their ride.

City officials instituted an event pricing strategy on parking to encourage motorists to park further away from Downtown by charging less at the far away lots.

Parking in the Downtown city garages will cost a quick $20, while parking in the farther beach lots could cost as little as $5, said Don Patterson, business and revenue operations manager for the city.

“We try to encourage people to disperse to different parking locations for pricing,” Patterson said. “It’s been increasingly successful since we tried it last year at the L.A. Marathon. Before, we either increased rates unilaterally, or kept it at the daily rate.”

Downtown lots will be closed until 6 a.m. for anyone not running in the marathon. From then until 6 p.m., event pricing rates apply.

For more help with parking on race day, visitors can go to smgov.net/parkingspacenow.

Bikers will get star treatment. A free valet service will be available in front of City Hall, and at the intersection of Broadway and Ocean Boulevard.

Public transportation

In 2010, local buses had difficulty moving around in the Downtown because the streets became congested.

To solve that problem, Big Blue buses and Metro buses will be rerouted to go along 11th Street.

A free BBB shuttle will run in a loop from 11th Street south to Colorado Avenue, west to Sixth Street and then north on Santa Monica Boulevard to reconnect with 11th Street.

Routes 4 and 9 will be shut down for the day.

For updates, call a BBB representative at (310) 451-5444 anytime between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Things to do

Those running the marathon will have their hands full for a few hours, but friends and family waiting to watch loved ones run sweatily by will have some time to kill.

City officials are encouraging local businesses and restaurants to turn their televisions to the marathon, which will be aired in a four-hour broadcast on KTLA.

Santa Monica Place will hold a special viewing indoors in the food court, in case of inclement weather.

For those looking to brave the elements and have a little fun, the 18th Street Art Center will host a “Cheer Zone” on San Vicente Boulevard at Seventh Street.

The event will feature a live samba band and giant dancing puppets. The organization will also be accepting donations to further social justice and equal rights.

After the race, runners and observers alike can go to the Finish Line Festival, at an open lot on Ocean Avenue, near the corner of Colorado Avenue. The festival is a good place for family and friends to find runners after the race.

There will be a large screen broadcasting the live marathon telecast, a beer garden, food and drinks for sale, live music and more.


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