FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Marathon Announces New Charitable Fund-raising Record and
Enhanced Race Logistics
Actress Joan van Ark jumps into 2011 race to raise funds for Japan relief
LOS ANGELES, March 17, 2011 – More than $2 million in contributions to a
variety of charities has been generated in connection with the Honda LA
Marathon presented by K-Swiss, the most ever in the 26-year history of the
"Last year, by the end of the race we raised $2 million," noted LA MARATHON
LLC community relations director Ginger Williams in a news conference held
at Dodger Stadium. "The fact is that we are at $2.026 million-plus now and
more funds will be coming in, even after the race. Knowing that all of our
official charities are not on Crowdrise.com, as well as our unofficial
ones, this is easily the most money the Marathon has ever raised."
An innovative addition to the fund-raising program in 2011 was the
coordination of contributions through the Crowdrise.com Web site,
co-founded by actor and activist Ed Norton, which allows individuals and
groups to raise money online in conjunction with the Marathon.
One of those moved to run in Sunday's race by her interest in raising money
for Japan relief is actress and marathoner Joan van Ark, who has run Los
Angeles three times before. "After seeing the footage of the devastation in
Japan this past week," she said, "I thought if I could contribute in any
way and take part in this marathon – which I haven't trained for – would be
something like 'Join Joan to Jog for Japan.' As part of the Red Cross
relief fund for Japan, I will be part of an umbrella group as well. You can
contribute as a runner, volunteer or spectator to a specific charity
Van Ark was presented with her official runner's shirt for Sunday, as well
as her race bib, no. 20584, by LA MARATHON LLC chief operating officer Nick
Curl, who also explained the changes in the 2011 Stadium to the Sea course
from the inaugural run last year.
"After last year's race we tried to identify the things that the runners
did not enjoy, specifically focusing on the runner experience. When I
re-designed the course last year, the first mile was a loop around Dodger
Stadium. The idea was to allow the people in the back to see the lead pack,
for the tail to see the head, so to speak. I thought it was a good idea,
but it was a horrible idea.
"So we removed that loop around the stadium, that is about a mile.
[Director of Operations] Stacy and I went out in the off-season and
redesigned that 5,700 feet. We added back Chinatown and Little Tokyo, where
we ran in the first ten years of the event. It was important to us because
we think those are iconic communities that are significant to Los Angeles.
So the new route is better from a runner's perspective, that loop is out
and makes it easier for them to see parts of the city that they haven't for
a long time."
Van Ark endorsed the changes, adding that "you have absolutely addressed
and tweaked every possible glitch. Having run this course last year, it is
the BEST way to see L.A. and to add Little Tokyo and Chinatown, all you
would need is Randy Newman singing in your ear, 'I Love L.A.'"
Embretson noted that a series of changes were made to the logistics of the
start and finish for this year's race. "We realized last year that due to
the loop course we had some challenges getting the runners in on raceday.
So we really worked hard in the off-season to make sure that we are
separating the vehicles coming in from the shuttle . We'll have about
12,000 runners on the shuttle buses [departing Santa Monica] between
2:30-5:30 in the morning, which is a half-hour earlier than last year. When
the shuttles come over, only the shuttles will be able to exit onto the 110
Freeway this year, no vehicles. All vehicle traffic will come off the 5
Freeway, not the 110 Freeway. Off of the 5 Freeway, if you are parking all
day at the stadium you veer to the right. If your loved one is dropping you
off, you go to the left into Lot 4 and head out of a different gate, to
keep the buses and cars separate."
At the finish, Embretson said that Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica would be
closed to the public and reserved only to runners from the finish line on
California Avenue for about three blocks going south "Family members can
meet up at Arizona Avenue, but the best place is the Finish Line Festival."
In between, Williams has arranged for a wide variety of entertainment along
the route. "We tried to have coverage at every mile with bands, a choir, we
even have a school band with 80 members that'll do a whole program.
"One of the major events is the Cheer Alley, which we did last year, which
creates great motivation for the runners. We decided to go for the Guinness
World Record for the 'largest cheerleading dance.' We have 400 members
doing a six-minute routine in unison, in uniform. If we synchronize it
perfectly, we want them to be attempting the record as the first elite
men's group comes through, which is in Beverly Hills, at Moreno Drive and
Santa Monica Blvd.
"We are also doing a whole military activation this year. We are told by
the participants about a tough hill at the [Veterans Administration] where
there is nothing up there. So this year, we have two Marine Corps bands
playing – one at the top of the hill and another around the ring. Also the
Fisher House will have a D.J. playing as you enter the V.A. as well as the
USO stage as you exit onto San Vicente Boulevard."
Curl was asked what impact the rain might have on the race. "It has rained
three times during the history of the race," he said, adding that "We have
put in inclement weather plans at the start; we have over 100,000 square
feet of tents that people can use on Sunday so they won't get rained on.
Before the start of the race, people can also stay inside Dodger Stadium.
After the gun sounds, if it's raining, you are going to get wet."
The 26th Honda LA Marathon will start with the wheelchair racers at 6:53
a.m. on Sunday. In-person registration will be available at the LA Marathon
Expo at Dodger Stadium on Friday (10 a.m.-8 p.m.) and Saturday (9 a.m.-6
p.m.); admission to the Expo is free, as is parking at Dodger Stadium for