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L.A. Marathon Day Changes Back to Sunday
CNS--The City Council agreed today to move the Los Angeles Marathon back to a Sunday in March beginning next year, siding with runners who said holding the race on Memorial Day meant hotter and potentially dangerous temperatures.
But in a nod to religious leaders, the council also called for a redesign of the marathon route to minimize disruption of Sunday church services.
"The best way for us to create an event that, as we say at the Los Angeles Marathon, inspires athletes and connects communities, is to reach out to those very communities and to listen to their concerns and to find ways to build bridges to take this event to the place where we all want to see it be," said Russ Pillar, president of the marathon.
The Rev. Charles Robertson of the Save our Sabbath Coalition called the proposal to design a new marathon route "a sufficient compromise that will serve the entire L.A. community."
For 23 of the last 24 years, the marathon had been held on the first Sunday in March. But when Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt bought the marathon from a Chicago company last September, the council bowed to religious leaders who complained that the street closures associated with the race and its 20,000 runners often restricted access to churches.
As a result, the marathon was held on Memorial Day this year.
But the city's Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller, when asked by Councilman Tom LaBonge to weigh the pros and cons of holding the marathon on either a Sunday or a federal or state Monday holiday, recommended holding the race on a Sunday.
In a report presented to the council today, Miller wrote that "deployment of necessary city personnel from all departments for an event of this magnitude is problematic because most employees do not want to work on a holiday Monday."
He noted that for this year's Memorial Day race, the Department of Transportation had a "40 percent no-show rate" among its employees, and the Police Department was forced to cancel vacations and order officers to work on overtime pay.
The Fire Department also favored moving the race back to a Sunday, Miller wrote in the report, noting that on a holiday Monday, there is limited medical staff at hospitals to treat injured runners.
Even nonprofit organizations who provide large cadres of volunteers to the marathon prefer Sunday to Monday, Miller added, because they depend on school-age youth for their volunteers and having the race near the end of the school year conflicts with SAT testing, proms, final exams and graduation functions.