Los Angeles, CA- The 38th running of the Los Angeles Marathon presented by ASICS takes off out of Dodger Stadium tomorrow morning at 6:29 a.m. with the pro wheelchair division, followed by 22,000 marathoners toeing the line. 

In the professional foot race, new champions will be crowned as 2022 winners John Korir and Delvine Meringor of Kenya will be racing elsewhere this spring. 

For the second year, the Morgan & Morgan Marathon Chase will be in play, the unique race within a race format pitting the pro men against the pro women in a handicap competition where the women are given a head start and the question will be whether the lead man can run down the top woman for the big prize. 

The race within the race gender matchup was first instituted back in 2004 and run for 11 consecutive years before the 2015 USATF Marathon Championship the 2016 Olympic Trials were contested in LA, sidelining the Chase. 

The challenge format was resurrected last year very successfully, with women’s winner Delvine Meringor holding off two-time men’s champion John Korir by just eight seconds at the Century City finish line. 

This year the differential between the men and women is 18:19, that’s 2:14 more than last year‘s 16:05. But the differential is based on the specifics of the particular fields in play.

This year fields are not deep, but do look well matched at the very top. Three men in particular look to be favorites And it’s a classic matchup of two young lions going after an older, more savvy veteran racer. And we have a similar dynamic in the men’s professional wheelchair division as well. 2019 champion and former push-rim world record holder Josh Cassidy from Toronto, Canada, 38,  will be challenged by four young upstarts from the University of Arizona’s Adaptive Athletics program who have been coming on very strong the last couple of years. It’s the classic matchup really, as the new generation looks to make its name on one of the bigger stages of the sport. 

In the men’s pro foot race, Yemane Tsegay from Ethiopia is 37  now but hasn’t run a serious marathon in over 18 months. After finishing in eighth place at the Barcelona Marathon in 2021 in 2:07:17, opportunities just dried up for the 2015 World Championship Marathon silver medalist. He wasn’t injured, he just couldn’t find the right opportunities. 

Then, February 11th, he ran the Riyadh Marathon in Saudi Arabia to put his body back into the marathon mode once again. He took third place in 2:12:05 in a 2:08:42 race. 

The very next day he called Matt Turnbull lead athlete coordinator for the Los Angeles Marathon, and said he wanted to race again as quickly as he could cause he was excited about how things had gone for him. So the one-time 2:04 man who won at least once every year for the first seven years of his career from 2008 to 2014, is in Los Angeles 2023 hungry for the opportunity to return to the top ranks.

But he’ll have a hard challenge from two younger talents, one from Ethiopia, Jemal Yimer, and the other from Kenya, Barnaba Kipkoech.  

Jemal Yimer, proven winner on the roads.

Yimer took third in Boston in 2021 then eighth last April in a PB 2:08:58. But he’s been the African champion at 10,000m and held the Ethiopian national half-marathon record for five years at 58:33, before his record was taken down by just one second in Valencia, Spain, which is where he’s at the mark in 2017.  So here’s a guy that’s got great track credentials and great half marathon and road credentials who’s looking to move up to the marathon with the same result. We know he’s better than the 2:09 man. But will this be the race that shows that With no pacers, a thin field, and a course with hills?

The other top contender looks to be Barnaba Kipkoech of Kenya. He was one of the pacers at the Chicago Marathon last October in a 2:04 race. Barnaba took the good feeling from pacing Chicago to the General Malaga Marathon in Spain in December where in rainy and windy conditions he ran 2:08:21 to set a new personal best. 

For the women, it’s a real tossup, as you have three or four women with almost identical personal best times at 2:27. But only one of those is recent, Esther Macharia of Kenya, who ran  fourth in Grandmas Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, last June in 2:27:15.

Tsehay Alemu of Ethiopia also holds a 2:27 PB, but that came in 2021 at the Florence Marathon in Italy. And that was her only result from 2021 and she had no results in 2022. So who knows what condition she’s in?

2022 Miami Marathon champion and course record holder, Martha Akeno, was 4th in LA 2022. She trains in Iten, Kenya with a big group. Her people say she can run 2:25 ,if she has a good day.

Stacey Ndiwa looking to take track success to the marathon

Then there’s somebody who is an unknown, but with the great track and cross country credentials like Yimer for the men. Stacey Ndiwa of Kenya will be running only her second marathon on Sunday. Last November she placed 4th at the Istanbul Marathon in 2:31:52. But she has proven to be a much better athlete than that. This January, she finished fourth at the Kenyan national cross country championships. In 2018 she was the African champion at 10,000 meters and the Commonwealth Games silver medal at the same distance.

“I have been training for about 14 weeks, she responded to an email earlier this week. “and I feel fit and ready to compete well. My hope is to run a personal best. I know that the course in LA is not easy, but I am confident in my ability to tackle the hills.”

She may be ready, but she’ll need to find some one to run with for at least part of the first half of the race, as she doesn’t have the experience to light out on her own from the gun.

Who knows if she could follow in the footsteps of countrywoman Edna Kiplagat, who won her first marathon title in LA 2010 in her second marathon. She went on to win the New York City Marathon in 2010, and followed with two World Championship gold medals, and multiple World Marathon Major titles.

There are no pacesetters in LA, so it’s very similar to the Boston Marathon in that regard. Also, it begins with a downhill start out of Dodger Stadium and has hills in the final two miles on the new course in its third running, finishing at Century city in Beverly Hills.

All in all, another fabulous day of racing in Los Angeles awaits. The weather looks near ideal. 3000 Students Run LA (SRLA) runners will compete, 1000 Volvo LA Roadrunners will as well, along with 107 legacy runners making the journey for the 38th time. 80 charity partners hope to raise in excess of $4 million.

LA is not an Abbott World Marathon Major but it’s still a major event. This will be my 38th, too.  You can catch all the action on KTLA streaming video. Hope you enjoy it.


please consider:  Great read!  Amazing story!


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