Marathon enthusiasm sandbagged by unpopular route
Even though enrollment is high, the enthusiasm for LA's twenty-second Marathon this Sunday is not quite the same as it has been through its history. Reason: the de-volution of the course.
The course used to dart for long, healthy doses along some of LA's prime boulevards. Now it commences in a big downhill cascade down Cahuenga (good for elite runners, bad for the shinsplint set) and keeps cutting corners until it ends up in the Flower Street DMZ immediately east of the Bonaventure.
Here's why the course has such a silly route: big churches kept complaining. Now the course is routed to cross grand streets rather than along them, and to bypass the churches that worry about Sunday tithes brought about by closures. The course hits more nondescript neighborhoods than ever, and virtually switchbacks through downtown in an effort to add length safely.
This is this particular course's second year. "It's not fun to run," a doctor told me. "We used to get some people who were really enthusiastic at the churches and along the good boulevards; now we don't see those people. I don't know any runners who actually like this course."
If you don't know the course, check this .pdf. Marathon/wheelchair course in blue.