One day a year, typically in February or early March, the normally-congested streets of Los Angeles are blocked off for the beloved Los Angeles Marathon. The annual race, which starts at Dodger Stadium and ends steps away from the Pacific Ocean, passes some of LA's most famous landmarks and diverse neighborhoods.
Block parties with live performances are spaced along the route to entertain fans while they're waiting for runners to pass, but the biggest festivities are at the Finish Line Festival. Other events associated with the Marathon are the Health & Fitness Expo, the Motivational Dinner, and the 5K run and walk, which are all held the day before marathon Sunday.
The LA Marathon winds through Downtown LA, Chinatown, Olvera Street, Little Tokyo, Hollywood, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills, ending just before the Santa Monica Pier at California and Ocean Avenues.
The 2020 race starts at 6:55 a.m. on March 8, 2020, for general runners, but earlier for wheelchairs, handcycles, and elite women. In order to be eligible, runners must be at least 16 years old on the day of the race. You can register online for a fee (which varies depending on how far in advance you sign up).
The LA Marathon App is a useful resource for both spectators and runners. It includes tracking, points of interest, race information, and other course details.
LA Marathon Health & Fitness Expo
The LA Marathon Health & Fitness Expo is the largest marathon expo in the world with representatives from every possible running-, cycling-, health-, and fitness-related exhibitor imaginable.
All participants in the LA Marathon must pick up their bibs and goodie bags at the expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center, so it's convenient to stay for the seminars and speakers on March 6 or March 7, 2020, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., respectively.
LA Big 5K Event Details
The LA Big 5K is a 3.1-mile loop from Dodger Stadium through the Elysian Park neighborhood around the stadium. It traditionally takes place the day before the LA Marathon, which will be Saturday, March 7, 2020.
The LA Big 5K is an event for the whole family, even featuring a 1/2K Kids Run. Runners and spectators may park their cars at Dodger Stadium for free starting at 6 a.m.
Information for Runners
You must have a runner's bib to be on the course during the race, and while there is no time limit to the marathon, slower runners and walkers will have traffic to deal with after 6 hours, 30 minutes, when the roads open up behind the main pack. Course support stations (including water stations) continue to operate until 3 p.m.
You can have your belongings brought to the finish line via complimentary Gear Check bags, which you can find at the start of the race in Parking Lot K. There is a secured finish area where runners can collect their finisher medals and retrieve their gear before exiting to the Family Reunion area and the Finish Line Festival on Santa Monica Boulevard.
Runners will be treated to a free Michelob Ultra at the Beer Garden from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a free massage in the Massage Tent on Ocean Boulevard, just south of Broadway.
Parking, Transportation, and Hotels for Runners
There are 10,000 paid parking spaces for runners in Santa Monica, and complimentary shuttles to transport runners with bibs to Dodger Stadium. Reservations are required for the shuttles and you must reserve parking spaces in advance.
Alternatively, runners can be dropped off at Dodger Stadium before the race.The Golden State Gate is the only gate that will be open for parking and drop off. Cars parked at Dodger Stadium can be retrieved until 8 p.m. via the Sunset or Golden State Gates, or on Monday after 7 a.m. via the Sunset Gate.
Runners staying at official LA Marathon hotels in Downtown LA or Beverly Hills will receive wristbands for shuttles to Dodger Stadium and returning from Santa Monica. If you're planning on taking advantage of the hotel shuttle, make sure you choose a downtown hotel. There is a morning shuttle from Union Station for people who want to take public transportation. The Metro provides a free shuttle to the Expo Line Metro Station in Culver City after the race.
Information for Fans and Spectators
There are City Block Parties set up at locations where spectators can watch the marathon runners pass by. Food and entertainment, as well as the all-important portable toilets, will be available at these locations.
There aren't any Metro Stations near the start or end of the race, but spectators can take the Gold Line to Chinatown or Union Station to watch the race pass through Downtown LA, or the Red Line to Hollywood and Vine or Hollywood and Highland to watch the race in Hollywood.
Labeled "Family Reunion" stations will be set up at the Finish Line Festival so runners can reconnect with their loved ones.
In order to avoid getting caught in traffic on marathon day, be sure to check out specific street closures and times along the route. Keep in mind that some freeway ramps will also be closed, so you'll have to plan alternative routes, especially around downtown and northern Los Angeles. If you plan to use public transit, you'll also want to make sure you check the LADOT LA Marathon schedules before you head out for the day. Keep in mind that rideshares like Uber and Lyft will likely cost more on marathon day.