Easy Reader Staff

Close to 2,000 runners expected at PV half marathon, 5K

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This month marks the end of an era for the longest-running marathon in the United States. After 45 years, the former Palos Verdes marathon has been reduced to a half marathon and a 5K run, which takes place May 19.

The event promises the same beautiful views on a challenging course along with sponsorship booths and a beer garden in the Pelican Cove parking lot near Terranea Resort on race day, said race chairman John Williams.

“It’s been a great tradition,” Williams said. “We really regret we can’t do the full marathon any longer but times have changed and the half has just taken over.”

Race organizers with the Kiwanis Club saw attendance for the marathon languish in recent years at around 200 runners while the half-marathon continued to gain more support. This year will likely draw around 1,200 people for the half marathon and about 800 for the 5K.

“It was very painful for us to do that (to not have the marathon.) But I think everyone is comfortable with why we did it. We’ve now built up more amenities for the half marathon runners,” said Walt Walston, race director with W2Promotions.

With expenses rising and fewer applicants, the cost of the full marathon became too much to justify the race. Without the marathon this year, the event will save around $15,000, which means more money for scholarships. All proceeds after expenses from the event support local students, school programs and clubs.

Over the last four years, the Kiwanis Club has donated more than $200,000 to local causes, with another $50,000 likely coming out of this year’s event, Williams said. The Palos Verdes school with the most participants will also receive a $1,000 grant.

For many long-time runners like Steve Mackel, the Palos Verdes marathon has always been a hometown event that never really caught on with runners from outside the Los Angeles area despite its longevity.

Competing in the PV marathon with a strong time used to qualify participants for the nation’s top races such as the Boston Marathon. But the PV race has always been a challenging one because of its hills. Race times were often longer for even experienced runners, said Mackel, who’s ran in 30 marathons including the PV marathon five times.

Many of the big name marathons are profitable ventures and charge higher entry fees, while in PV the Kiwanis Club has always kept the event a low-key affair without large sponsorships and a big advertising budget.

“Some people may look for easier races,” said Mackel, who also serves on the race organizing committee. “We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people who were bummed. But at the same time, that money is all given to charity. People need to take that into perspective. Honestly this would be a better race to support because your money is really going to the kids.”

Organizers hope that while this year marks the end of an era, it’s also the beginning for the continued success of the race in the years to come, Mackel said.

“Over the past five years, I’ve noticed a huge increase in the half marathon. We decided to focus on our strength. It still has all the great views,” Mackel said. “It hasn’t lost that hometown feel — still has all those great things it had in the past, but just not the marathon.”

For more information visit www.pvhalfmarathon.org. Registrations will be accepted up until race morning. Entry fees are $20 for students and $35 for adults in the 5K and $85 for the half marathon. ER

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