Hundreds checked for hypothermia after rain-drenched marathon

Runners start the Honda LA Marathon in Los Angeles, on a stormy Sunday, March 20, 2011.
Runners start the Honda LA Marathon in Los Angeles, on a stormy Sunday, March 20, 2011.
AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

SANTA MONICA - More than 300 runners were evaluated for hypothermia in the Los Angeles Marathon today, and hundreds of other racers dropped out of the race as cold rain brought misery.

Six hours after the marathon began, Los Angeles paramedics were dealing with hundreds of soaked runners scattered between Hollywood and Santa Monica, some suffering mild hypothermia.

At least 20 people were hospitalized for hypothermia, cramps or other problems, and another 70 treated and released on city streets.

The Santa Monica Fire Department said about 200 marathon runners who crossed the finish line were being evaluated inside the ballroom of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel at 1 p.m. Twelve of them had been taken to local hospitals with hypothermia symptoms, a race spokesman there said.

Most of the complaints from runners were for cramps and hypothermia, said Capt. Judah Mitchell of the Santa Monica Fire Department. ``After they sit a while and we get a banana in them, they say they are good,'' he said.

Los Angeles firefighters said they were tallying the numbers of hypothermia cases, and said it is not yet apparent if the number of chilled runners is comparable to the numbers of sunstroke or dehydration cases on warmer day marathons.

During the first six hours of the marathon, .78 inch of rain fell at Santa Monica Airport. Ankle-deep rainwater greeted the marathoners in Brentwood, and cold, wet winds lashed the finish line.

Fire dispatch channels were full of reports of soaked and hypothermic runners, and firefighters called for buses to return to Hollywood to pick up stranded. shivering stragglers.

One wheelchair racer flipped his rig on a wet La Cienega Boulevard, but was not injured, KTLA reported.

The race started at Dodger Stadium on nearly-dry pavement, but soaking rain and driving winds developed a half hour into the race.

Spectator turnout along the route, from Dodger Stadium to downtown Los Angeles, and then west to Santa Monica, was significantly lower than in years past, no doubt due to the weather.

Thousands of high school cheerleaders assembled at Century City abandoned their race-side positions before runners arrived, as the rain came down.