In a surprising and fantastic marathon debut, Aleksandra Duliba of Belarus won the women's race in Sunday's 28th annual Los Angeles Marathon.
The 27-year-old led the entire way, smiling mostly, and sped across the foggy finish line in Santa Monica in 2 hours, 26 minutes and 8 seconds, notching a record for her country and the sixth-fastest time in race history.
Duliba earned $75,000 for the victory, $25,000 as the top women's finisher and a $50,000 bonus for beating the fastest man, Erick Mose of Kenya. The elite women's field received an 18-minute, 35-second head start for the gender challenge, based on a formula involving the lifetime bests of the elite male and female runner.
Mose and his Kenyan compatriots swept the men's field. The race's fastest runner, Mose set a personal record with an official time of 2 hours, 9 minutes and 44 seconds. His best friend, Julius Keter, 24, claimed second place with a 2:10:31 finish in the 26.2-mile course that starts at Dodger Stadium.
For six miles, an upset stomach plagued hometown favorite Deena Kastor, the U.S. record holder for the marathon and an Agoura Hills native, who finished third in the women's race in 2 hours, 32 minutes and 38 seconds. She blew kisses and waved to spectators as she rolled south down Ocean Avenue.
"Today was more about pride than money, and I'm a little bruised," Kastor, 40, said after the race. When reporters asked if the new mother hoped to inspire fellow moms to run, she said she was inspired by them.
"This sport is beautiful in that we can all inspire each other," she said.
Kastor called Duliba's performance spectacular.
Duliba—who has said she picked the Los Angeles Marathon as her first 26.2-mile race because she wanted to see the Hollywood sights—said at a post-race press conference her favorite section of the course was on San Vicente Boulevard through Santa Monica, where she enjoyed looking at the beautiful trees and homes.
Laughing and smiling, Duliba said she would love to run the L.A. Marathon again. "It's a beautiful city," she said, speaking through a translator.
Her victory ends a three-year winning streak by African women, which had been preceded by an 11-year streak of victories by women from the former Soviet Union.
It was a chilly 55 degrees and quite foggy at noon in Santa Monica as runners moved down Ocean Avenue, pretty good conditions for a marathon. There was heavy rain in 2011 and gusty wind last year.
"People are doing good," said Dr. Sean Henderson, one of the race's medical directors.
He expected to treat about 200 runners by the end of the day, which would be fewer than in 2012 when more people suffered from dehydration and severe cramping. The sole person to be hospitalized Sunday was an event volunteer, Henderson said.
This year's L.A. Marathon was sold out for the second time in its history with 24,000 runners from all 50 states and 61 nations entered.
Street closures began at 4 a.m. from the race's start at Dodger Stadium to Hollywood, 5 a.m. in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood, Brentwood, West Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Streets will be re-opened on a rolling basis, with areas east of the finish line re-opened by 2:20 p.m.
"It is an inconvenience for some," said race director and chief operating officer Nick Curl. "The other side of the coin is to see a major city marathon bring communities together, people together and charities together. It's pretty special."
— City News Service contributed to this report.