LA Marathon runs the city

Los Angeles Marathon participants lined up for the 26.2 mile “Stadium to the Sea” course just before 7 a.m., starting at Dodger Stadium in Elysian Park before winding through Downtown LA and the Westside and finishing the highly anticipated event in Santa Monica. 20-year-old Fatuma Sado of Ethopia won first place overall in the women’s race and pulled ahead of the elite runners in mile seven to post her personal best of 2:25:39.

Simon Njoroge of Kenya, 31, finished first in the men’s race and clocked a time of 2:12:12, just 3 minutes shy of his record time, and at the press conference following the event, he thanked God and said he was happy with the result.

Rain had been forecast for the event, but runners enjoyed a dry Sunday morning with the only obstacle being the temperature, that dipped to 46 degrees before the start of the race, and the wind coming in West from the Pacific Ocean.

Among the runners was Santa Monica College student Chris Tripp, who finished the marathon in four hours, 28 minutes and 15 seconds.

“It was an overall success,” Tripp said. “I paced well and the people around me were so positive and supportive in helping me get to the finish.”

Tripp, who had been training for 18 weeks, said his first marathon was more than just a physical exercise. “The mental and emotional strength it gave me was profound,” Tripp said. “Completing a marathon gave me patience and confidence that I didn’t have before.”

Honda, the namesake sponsor of the marathon, awarded a total purse prize of $110,000 between the top 5 men’s and women’s winners. Both first place winners in the gender contests, Sado and Njoroge, received the keys to a 2012 Honda CRV, in addition to their prizes.

Sado crossed the finish line first and was awarded an additional $100,000 by Honda upping her monetary take home prize to $125,000.

Sunday’s race was the 27th edition of the marathon and was expected to raise over $3 million through associated charities.

Larry Meyer of Glendale, who competed in his 59th marathon on Sunday, ran to benefit the Blind Children’s Center in Los Angeles. So far he’s raised over $77,000 according to the center’s website.

Meyer ran his first marathon in 1978 before suffering partial paralysis after an accident in 1989. Following surgery and a four-year recovery period, he regained his ability to run. “It’s about having fun now; if I get tired out there, I think about all of the kids who have it way worse than me, and that’s what keeps me going,” Meyer said.

Christian Alvarado, 26, completed his 11th marathon Sunday despite being legally blind and diabetic. Alvarado is able to negotiate the landmark course’s obstacles with the help of guide runner Tania Gongora and a shoelace that tethers them together. Together they ran for an education charity called the Fulfillment Fund, which gives financial aid to low-income students in Los Angeles.

“I want to show people that they can do anything,” Alvarado said. “So many people are sitting at home being lazy, and I want to show them nothing is impossible.” Though he was anticipating finishing before the 7 hour mark, Alvarado clocked in with a time of 9:13:53.

Col Justin Gaertner and Sgt. Gabriel Martinez, two Marines who lost their legs serving in Afghanistan in 2010, competed in the race together using hand-crank cycles. Martinez finished with a time of 2:03:11.

Both Marines were joined by a group of 25 other wounded Marines that were sponsored by the Achilles Freedom Team, an organization aimed to assist wounded vets’ goals to compete in marathons.

Martinez, who had competed in a 5K the Saturday before the marathon using prosthetic legs, said that his goal is to eventually compete in a triathlon.

Actor Sean Astin, famous for roles in the movies The Goonies and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, also participated in Sunday’s marathon. The actor took to Twitter to promote his “Run3rd” campaign that urges people to talk actively about issues they care about.

According to the marathon website, 18,840 participants finished Sunday’s race, placing it in the top five largest marathons in the United States.

Tripp is already thinking about his next marathon. “I’m addicted, I have to do it again,” he said, laughing. “But first I’ve got to rest a little.”