After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 39th Long Beach Marathon is gearing up to make a triumphant return on Sunday, October 15. This year’s race promises to be a beacon of hope, normalcy, and excitement for runners, fans, and the city’s hospitality and restaurant industries.
Scheduled to kick off at 6 a.m., the 26.2-mile marathon will be joined by a bike tour starting at the same time, while the half-marathon will commence at 7:30 a.m. The festivities will begin the day before with the Aquarium of the Pacific 5K race on Saturday, October 14, at 6:50 a.m., encouraging all participants to rise early and pick up their race essentials between 5:15 and 6:30 a.m.
Although concerns about COVID-19 still linger, the situation has significantly improved. High vaccination rates and immunity among those who previously contracted the virus have alleviated fears of widespread transmission. With city, county, and state health regulations lifted, up to 25,000 visitors are expected to gather on race day, congregating in and around the Expo Center to celebrate athletic achievements.
The event’s director of media relations, Dan Cruz, has estimated that around 17,000 runners have already registered for the marathon, half marathon, and bike tour. These optimistic predictions have even attracted corporate sponsorship, with Philips Sonicare, a prominent electric toothbrush brand, stepping in as the main sponsor.
A notable addition to this year’s marathon is the construction of an Expo Center on the waterfront, capable of accommodating up to 7,500 visitors on Friday, October 13, kicking off a three-day marathon extravaganza. Another 15,000 attendees are anticipated on Saturday.
Reflecting on the challenging journey of organizing the marathon during a pandemic, Cruz said, “It’s been rough on event organizers. 2021 was tough because of all the rules and restrictions, but in 2023, we are back in full force with a new sponsor, the waterfront expo, and a record number of registered runners.”
Adding to the excitement, last year’s champions, Raymon Ornelas and Margaux Curcuru are set to defend their titles, vying for a $1,000 award for the marathon winners in both male and female categories, with $500 prizes for second-place finishers.
Event manager Randy Garcia revealed that registrations for the marathon and 5K run are already sold out, leaving the Bike Tour as the only open registration activity on the event’s website. Cyclists can secure their spots for $70 each. Remarkably, over 1,500 registered runners hail from outside California, and participants from at least 20 different countries will be part of the race.
Garcia emphasized, “The marathon will attract some of the fastest athletes in Southern California.” The event has also garnered support from 41 teams representing various charities, sports clubs, social groups, and even the US Coast Guard.
For those seeking an extra challenge, an “LBC” combo medal will be awarded to participants who complete the 5K and any of Sunday’s runs or take part in the bike tour followed by the half marathon.
With more than 1,500 volunteers working throughout the weekend and a significant presence of law enforcement and medical personnel, safety and support will be paramount.
Local businesses, including hotels and restaurants, are anticipating a much-needed boost in revenue. While there hasn’t been an economic impact report since 2018, the surge in hotel bookings and direct purchases from visitors is expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels.
Despite rising costs due to inflation, including higher gas prices and increased wages, hotels along the shoreline are fully booked for the marathon weekend. Businesses, from eateries to gift shops, are preparing for an economic upswing not seen in years.
In 2018, an executive summary report estimated that the marathon contributed more than $3 million to the local economy, with over 11,000 visitors, 2,799 hotel nights, and indirect benefits amplifying the impact to approximately $4 million.
Marilynn Singer, communications manager with the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, expressed excitement about the marathon’s return, emphasizing its positive impact on local businesses and the city’s economy.
As the marathon approaches, event-goers are advised to plan their travel accordingly, considering potential traffic and parking challenges. Alternative transportation options, such as the Metro A light train, are also available.
In summary, the 39th Long Beach Marathon is set to bring a sense of normalcy, excitement, and economic resurgence to the city, marking a triumphant return after the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. With record registrations, corporate sponsorship, and a bustling Expo Center, Long Beach is poised to celebrate its marathon like never before.
39TH LONG BEACH MARATHON AT A GLANCE:
|Health and Wellness, Race & Packet Pick-Up Expo||Friday, Oct. 13, 2023||12 p.m. – 6 p.m.||Marina Green, 386 E. Shoreline Dr., Long Beach, CA 90803|
|Aquarium of the Pacific 5K||Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023||6:50 a.m.||100 Aquarium Way|
|Race Expo & Packet Pickup Expo||Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023||10 a.m. – 4 p.m.||Marina Green, 386 E. Shoreline Dr.|
|Bike Tour, 18 miles||Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023||6 a.m.||Shoreline Drive and Linden Avenue|
|The Marathon, 26.2 miles||Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023||6 a.m.||Shoreline Drive and Shoreline Village Drive|
|Half Marathon, 13.1 miles||Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023||7:30 a.m.||Shoreline Drive and Shoreline Village Drive|
|Finish Line Festival||Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023||8 a.m. – 1 p.m.||Marina Green, at Shoreline Drive and Linden Avenue|