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Boycott the 2009 LA Marathon

How religious leaders and the LA City Council have ruined a proud LA tradition

By William Gallegos
Published on LatinoLA: January 12, 2009


Boycott the 2009 LA Marathon


Los Angeles is a city that many of its people both love and hate equally. Where else can you drive from the desert to the mountains and then to the ocean within hours? Where else can you go out on the town for dinner and have trouble choosing from the dozen or so ethnic restaurants you see all on the same block? And where else can you live without the fear of snowstorms, tornadoes, or hurricanes?

Sadly, it is the same city known for its traffic, its gangs, the graffiti created by gangs, its horribly-run schools, its dirty police department, its two-timing mayor, and its city council members who only consider you valuable when they need your vote at election time.

Ah yes....the ever so infamous city council members.

They don't do much when fixing some of the problems mentioned above (gangs, graffiti, schools, etc.) but they will go out of the way to save an elephant at the LA Zoo, fine you for not fixing your dogs and cats, punish you for using a bit too much water, and support a plan to get rid of public access TV (source...LAWeekly.com), just to name a few.

Now it seems that the LA City Council, known more as "the idiots", have once again decided to anger the people of not only Los Angeles, but those from other parts of both the country and the world by changing the Los Angeles Marathon date not once, but twice....all this just to please a small group of greedy, money-hungry religious leaders.

How did all of this first start?

Let's flash back....it seemed that for the first 21 marathons, the Sunday race had a course that was always the same, maybe with a street change here and there. No runner, sponsor, or volunteer ever had a problem participating in this race one Sunday out of the year during those two decades.

But following the 21st marathon in 2006, a couple of religious leaders who have always disliked the Sunday event since their churches fell on the course, finally decided enough was enough and demanded the race be changed to Presidents day (on a Monday in February) or legal action would follow. The LA Marathon would try to please both runners and religious leaders by keeping the event on Sunday but also by changing the course so that church services would not be interrupted by the event. Of course the Mayor, being the lying coward he usually is, decided to explain the reason for the new course by claiming "runners would see "more of LA" and that more personal best times would be accomplished since there would be more downhills streets.

This would all be false!!!

The course for the 2007 marathon included more uphill streets (during the first 5-6 miles) and ugly abandoned streets (miles 19-22) as well as shopping districts where many shoppers would end up interfering with the runners by jaywalking through the running paths (miles 22-23).

My time for the 2007 marathon (my sixth LA marathon at the time) was my worst.

After finishing the 2008 marathon, which was the same course as 2007 and was the second worst time of my seven marathons (don't blame this on me getting another year older), it was only a couple of weeks until the marathon's official website showed the 2009 date of Sunday, March 1st.

My certificate, which arrived in mid-summer 2008, contained an application for the 2009 marathon, once again stating the March 1st date, which I sent out in mid-August.

But about a month or two later, I read in the news that the LA city council was voting to change the 2009 date to Presidents day, since religious leaders were still threatening legal action since they were still unhappy about a Sunday marathon taking place.

Do you know how many marathons take place on Sundays in this country every year?

Go to marathonrookie.com and click on "race calendar" to see the 2009 dates for all the Sunday marathons nationwide. Anyways, I decided to call up the LA Marathon offices to confirm the change. I spoke to a gentleman who would only confirm that the approval of the date change would be official in about a week.

This man, whose name I never got, did have the guts to tell me how he personally believed the change was "all about money". So what happened about a month or two after the city council approved moving the March 1st marathon to february? They decided to change the date again......to a warm-weathered Memorial Day (also on monday). They claimed that this time the change was needed since most people have to work on Presidents Day.

DUHHHHHHHHHHHH.....it took them that long to figure that out!

Do you know what a feeling it is doing a race when strangers of all ages, races, and skin colors are high-fiving you and cheering you on by your name (runners have option to personize their bib) or when they are handing you water, not as paid employees, but as volunteers doing it for the love of it?

Do you know what it is like when a couple of LAPD officers cheer on someone like me, someone who honestly is not the greatest fan of this department? The answer to both questions....it is a great feeling knowing this and knowing that in a racist city like LA, unity is possible and not just talk.

By the way, the officers who cheered me on were immediately given the thumbs up.

So anyways, just what in the hell is the problem with these religious leaders and with these idiotic council members trying to ruin a great LA tradition known around the world? Has anyone ever heard of Saturday or Sunday evening services? Would God or whatever deity there is out really consider punishing those for holding a marathon on streets on the day most church services fell on? Would God approve of legal action being held against an event that unites people of all ages, races and skin colors?

I have said this is the past and I will gladly say this again....it doesn't matter what religion it is, churches are nothing more than greedy, money-making businesses!

Anyways, following the news of the Memorial Day date, I decided to read other online stories regarding the change and boy, were there a lot of angry people out there! Two of the most popular running groups in LA, the LA Leggers and the LA Roadrunners, were angered by the change since it would mess up their training. The LA Legacy Runners, consisting of those who have done every single LA marathon, were also outraged. Several legacy runners said they would consider backing out of the marathon for the first time.

Elsewhere, a couple from New Jersey were forced to pay a heavy fee for switching flight dates with an airline when the marathon moved from March to February only to find out the date of the race was moving again from February to May. LA Marathon runners who were set to compete in the San Diego Rock n Roll marathon were angered knowing both races were now only a week apart.

Of course, with the race falling during a three-day weekend, the new date has also messed up vacation plans for many. I am sure many runners citywide, statewide, nationwide and worldwide are going through all kinds of similar problems thanks to the city council's decision.

Let's remember that this change is once again putting a very dark cloud over the city of L.A. Of course, others angered over the may date complained about the possible heat on race day and the health dangers likely to occur.

A few years back, one of the LA marathons I did had a race day temperature of somewhere around 79-80 degrees. In that race, I saw more bodies on the floor getting medical attention than I did in my other 6 LA marathons combined. Can you imagine what to expect in may 2009 when the weather is perhaps in the mid to upper 80's, or even higher? Of course, since all runners are required to sign a waiver, the city won't be held responsible for any injuries or deaths caused by the weather.

If the city council doesn't care less about all the innocent people who drop dead like flies every year thanks to gang violence in the city (DON'T DENY THE FACT THAT I AM RIGHT), what makes you think they care about a bunch of runners falling victim to the weather? (read more complaints at the official LA Times blog..."LA marathon shift sparks angry response" or by googling "boycott 2009 LA Marathon"). Oh by the way....did I mention that I recently received an email from the LA Marathon, informing me that for 2009, they will be going back to the course that they had during the first 21 marathons? Funny how they are doing away with that fantastic course the Mayor said contained more downhill streets and "more of LA"?

Anyways, I was curious to get a response from the city council members responsible for the date change, especially since those against the date change, like me, were not given the chance to speak up at city hall the day the religious leaders did. So on December 8 at around 1pm, I decided to contact the offices of all 15 council members via email, asking, "Why anger thousands and thousands of runners, volunteers and even sponsors over a major date change just to please a few greedy religious leaders?"

As of January 9th, guess how many have responded back with their reason for the date change? YOU GUESSED IT.......NONE!!!!!! Of course a third of them did send me the same carbon-copy email, telling me how important my email was and how someone will contact me in the next day or two. Have not heard from anyone yet! This was when I decided to do my part as an angry LA Marathon runner.....I DECIDED TO BOYCOTT THE 2009 RACE BY DEMANDING A REFUND!!!!

Of course when you go to the marathon's new official website, the only access you have is registration access only, nothing more. The old number of 310-444-5544 (which I used to talk to the gentleman who mentioned the change being about "money"), was no longer working (just keeps ringing forever). Of course by no surprise the LA Marathon offices chose not to have a "contact us" link since they knew angry calls were likely to happen.

Fortunately, after searching forever on a search engine, I found the new LA Marathon office number of 310-271-7200. Megan, the lady who answered this number, was still offering refunds to those opposed to the February and May dates. This lady, of course, was an employee of the new LA Marathon team that was in charge of the event. And who was head of this new team? Dodger owner and cheapskate Frank McCourt. Unlike the gentleman who had the guts to admit the date change was about money, Megan claimed many of the calls she has received were calling in support of the May date (sure!).

If that is true, then Frank McCourt is lowering Dodger ticket prices for 2009 and then again in 2010. Note....during this telephone conversation I had with Megan, which I believe took place on either the 8th or 9th of December, I complained about the website containing no "contact us" information of any kind. She assured me that that information would be taking care of immediately. As of January 9th, still no "contact us" information on website.

Whether or not you are a runner, this is where your help is needed and appreciated......support those angered over the date change from a cool-weathered Sunday March to a warm-weathered Monday May. Lend out your voice in anger and let the LA Marathon know you will not tolerate the LA Marathon tradition being ruined by greedy, money-hungry religious leaders and idiotic council members. Your help doesn't require a donation and your help can be done in the comfort of your home or office.

Do your part by doing the following....

1) If you registered when the race was set for march or February, demand a refund by calling the LA Marathon at 1-310-271-7200 (not sure if those who signed up for the May date would be eligible). My goal was to extend my LA marathon participation streak to eight races but sometimes sacrifices have to be made for the right reasons.

2) Contact! Contact! Contact! Email the LA marathon offices at megan@lamarathon.com and let them know how angered you are over the change. More complaints via email or phone can make the difference!

3) Contact those at www.discoverlosangeles.com, the official visitors site of L.A. More out-of-state runners boycotting the race means less hotels booked, less plane tickets sold, and therefore, less tax dollars to the city. Let them be aware of this. As we have learned through religious leaders and LA city council members....money talks!

4) Email what you have been reading these past 5-10 minutes to others, whether they run or not, and whether they live in L.A. or not. The more the merrier! 5) Participate in the Pasadena Marathon. You are only being asked to boycott the LA Marathon, not all marathons. Their race will be held on March 22nd, just three weeks after the original LA Marathon date of march 1st. You can boycott the LA Marathon and still train for a March marathon during the next two months. With the Pasadena Marathon falling on a sunday, no Pasadena city councilmember is going to let religious leaders ruin the day! Call the Pasadena Marathon offices at 626-797-7238 for more information (their website of pasadenamarathon.org may or may not be updated yet).

DON'T WAIT TILL AFTER YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW FALLS VICTIM TO THE HEAT AT THE 2009 LA MARATHON AND DON'T ASSUME THE WEATHER FOR THE 2010 LA MARATHON WILL BE COOLER THAN IN 2009 (IF ONCE AGAIN HELD IN MAY). LET'S FIGHT GREED IN THE CHURCHES AND STUPIDITY IN LA POLITICS!!!! HELP BRING THE MARATHON BACK TO MARCH, AS IT HAS BEEN FOR THE LAST 23 YEARS!!!!!

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