FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Geneti, Gneiting set records in wet and wild Honda LA Marathon
Despite a winter storm, amazing 97% of all starters finished the race
LOS ANGELES, March 22, 2011 – A first-time marathoner and a 400-pound sumo
wrestler highlighted a stunning 26th Honda LA Marathon presented by K-Swiss
with a pair of spectacular performances. Theirs were only two of nearly
20,000 amazing stories on a wet and wild race-day.
Marathon rookie Markos Geneti of Ethiopia, known primarily for his exploits
on the track, broke away from a bunched field in the middle miles and
elevated the race to world-class status with a sensational new race record
of 2:06:35, the second-fastest time in the world in 2011. He shattered the
previous race record of 2:08:24 by almost two minutes, and before catching
a stomach cramp in the 21st mile, was on pace to run 2:04:49, which would
have been the fastest debut marathon ever and the fastest marathon ever run
in the United States. As it was, his 2:06:35 final time is the 14th-fastest
marathon ever run in North America.
Kenya's Nicholas Kamakya was the only one close to Geneti in the last half
of the race, and finished second in 2:09:26, with countryman Laban Moiben
third (2:13:12) and two-time defending champion Wesley Korir fourth in
Geneti's feat was all the more remarkable due to the conditions, with heavy
rain throughout most of the race and gusting winds, which peaked near 60
miles per hour in the afternoon. Geneti took home the first-place prize of
$25,000 plus a Honda EX Insight sedan, as well as $100,000 for winning the
unique L.A. Marathon Challenge, finishing ahead of women’s winner Buzunesh
Deba of Ethiopia by two minutes and 56 seconds after starting with a 17:03
Deba posted her seventh marathon win in nine tries and ran a personal best
by 50 seconds in 2:26:34, the ninth-fastest women's performance in race
history. She broke away from American Amy Hastings, also making her
marathon debut, in the final three miles. For her part, Hastings became the
eighth-fastest American woman ever to run the marathon in 2:27:03, the
third-fastest mark ever posted by an American woman running a first
marathon. Ethiopia's Mare Dibaba finished third in 2:30:25.
But the elites were only a small part of the story on a brutal day for
running, but during which an astonishing 97.0% of all those who started the
race (20,537) actually finished. Temperatures ranged from 50-55 degrees
during the day, with heavy rain and wind, especially near the finish in
Santa Monica. Incredibly, the average finishing time in 2011 was 5:16:33,
more than eight minutes faster than the weather-perfect 2010 edition
(5:24:37), the first run on the Stadium to the Sea course. The new
race-tracking system that sent intermediate and finishing times via text
message, e-mail, Facebook and Twitter, used for the first time at a major
marathon, distributed 153,460 messages during the race with nearly
Among the finishers was American sumo champion Kelly Gneiting, who will
submit his race results and supporting documentation to the Guinness World
Records office for certification as the "heaviest person to complete a
marathon." He jogged and walked the course in 9:48:52, finishing in
19,626th place out of a preliminary total of 19,928 finishers, and cut more
than two hours off of his 2008 marathon time of 11:52:11. He weighed in at
400.0 pounds at the start and 396.2 pounds at the finish.
"The people of Los Angeles are amazing," he said afterwards. "There was
lots of honking and yelling, 'Go, you're almost there' by both marathoners
and spectators." Asked before the race why he was doing this, he said "I
love the thought of showcasing what a 400-pound person can do; you don't
need to let that stop you from accomplishing anything."
Also setting a personal best was Joe D'Amico of Palatine, Illinois, who
"trained" for the event for the last 30 days prior to the race by eating
all of his meals at McDonald's, and raising money for the Ronald McDonald
House Charities. He finished 28th overall in 2:36:14, shaving 40 seconds
off his old best from last year's Twin Cities Marathon in St. Paul,
Charitable contributions made in conjunction with the race also set a new
record, with $2.15 million already collected and more continuing to be
received. Contributions can be made through March 31 via www.Crowdrise.com
to any of the race's 68 affiliated charitable organizations.
"The 2011 edition of the Honda LA Marathon was one for the record books,"
said LA MARATHON LLC chief operating officer Nick Curl. "Our runners, from
Markos Geneti to Kelly Gneiting to everyone in between, would not be
stopped by very challenging conditions, overcoming both the distance and
the weather. They are all to be congratulated.
"We are also very proud of our volunteers who worked a long day in the rain
and cold, and of the public safety and transportation departments from Los
Angeles, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, the Veterans Administration and
Santa Monica, who were outstanding. Their professionalism, flexibility and
rapid response made sure that our runners were just as well cared for after
the race as they were on the course."
The 2012 Honda LA Marathon presented by K-Swiss is scheduled for Sunday,
March 18, 2012.