LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The 34th annual Los Angeles Marathon began under partly cloudy skies at Dodger Stadium today, with the field setting off for the finish line near the Santa Monica Pier, 26 miles, 385 yards away.
A capacity field of more than 24,000 has entered the 10th edition of the race to be run on the “Stadium to the Sea” course, expected to be the fourth-largest among this year's U.S. marathons and 10th worldwide.
The race has drawn entrants from all 50 states and a record 66 nations, three more than the previous high, according to organizers.
There were no changes to the course from last year.
The race has 70 official charities, with organizers expecting them to raise more than $4 million in connection with the marathon.
What organizers have designated as the race's premier charities include Train 4 Autism, which raises awareness and funds for research and treatment of those living with autism and their families; Team World Vision, which provides clean water for children and families in Africa; and Angel City Pit Bulls, which is dedicated to creating a better future for pit bulls through education, public advocacy, adoptions and owner support.
More than half of the charities will be showcasing their programs on the course including the Catholic Education Foundation; Kitten Rescue; Guide Dogs of America; the Widows, Orphans and Disabled Firemen's Fund; the Concern Foundation, which raises money for cancer research; and the Hirshberg Foundation, which supports pancreatic cancer research, patients with the disease and their families.
There are 50 entertainment areas, four featured entertainment centers and more than 50 charity cheer zones along the course.
The men's professional field includes Weldon Kirui, the 2016 and 2018 winner, and Juan Luis Barrios of Mexico, a two-time Olympic finalist and two- time Pan American Games gold medal-winner in the 5,000 meters.
The men's race has been won by a Kenyan every year since 1999, except for 2011 and 2014, when it was won by Ethiopians.
A U.S. runner last won in 1994.
The women's professional field is headlined by Ethiopians Belaynesh Fikadu and Askale Merachi and Lucy Karimi of Kenya.
African women have won seven of the last nine races, with runners from the former Soviet Union winning the other two times. A U.S. runner last won the women's race in 1994.
The race has a purse of $100,000, with equal prize money for men and women.
The top five male and female finishers will receive prize money.
The winners will each receive $23,000, the runners-up $12,000 and third-place finishers $7,000. The top American man and woman will each receive a $2,000 bonus.
A separate prize purse of $9,000 is offered for the wheelchair competitors, with the men's and women's wheelchair winners each receiving $2,500.