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Costa Rican Wins Men’s LA Marathon; Ukrainian Wins Women’s Race

March 3, 1996

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Late entry Jose Luis Molina of Costa Rica won the men’s division and Ukrainian Lyubov Klochko won the women’s division of the Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday, running over a new course with a new timing system.

Molina won in two hours, 13 minutes and 23 seconds. Klochko finished in 2:30:30, besting her 1993 LA Marathon win by 9 minutes, 18 seconds.

The new 26-mile, 385-yard circuit covers much the same ground, but reverses direction, so that about 19,000 runners started on a slight downhill grade and finished on a downhill stretch as well.

All entrants had a computer chip tied to their shoelaces to mark start, half, and finish times. Officials could not immediately assess success of the chip and timing system, used for the first time in a major U.S. marathon.

Freeway traffic through the downtown area was backed up for several hours before race time despite elaborate preparations by the California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Transportation.

Downtown freeway exits were closed and confused motorists simply stopped to let runners out of cars to fend for themselves. Runners scaled chainlink fences and climbed ivy embankments to reach the starting line.

A blimp and a half dozen helicopters hovered over the staging area amid the gleaming downtown towers. Several planes towed advertising banners.

During the marathon’s first decade, start and finish lines were at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The new course begins and ends in the center of the city in a move designed to boost business participation and spotlight the downtown area which is usually empty on Sunday.

There were a variety of characters that define wacky Southern California, including clowns, priests and nuns on the run.

Michael Fandal races as Ernest Desire, the Crime-Fighting Clown. Dennis Marsella runs while wearing a heavy winter coat, white dress shoes and gold knee socks while carrying a medium cheese pizza. Mike Cuzzacrea made the Guinness Book of World Records by running a 3:06:22 marathon while flipping two pancakes in a pan.

The band of Elvis impersonators, clutching cans of beer, took off with the rest of the runners. They were clad in white with scarfs and chains dangling around hairy chests. But none of them wore blue suede shoes.

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