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Pre-marathon 'fun ride' to replace canceled Crash Race

Los Angeles Police DepartmentEric GarcettiDodger Stadium

The Marathon Crash Race is officially canceled.

But the "fun ride" is on.

"The city really, really, really, really wanted me to get a permit," said Don Ward, organizer of the bicycling group Wolfpack Hustle and the annual Marathon Crash Race. "So they worked really hard to get a permit — and as of Friday night, 8 p.m., they got me a permit."

Ward credited officials from the Los Angeles Police Department, the city attorney's office and the mayor's office as key players in helping to obtain a permit to make Sunday's ride a reality. Ward announced the cancellation of the popular predawn race along the L.A. Marathon route last week because of a lack of proper permits. He has said that the group had never before been required to obtain a permit for the race.

Yusef Robb, spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, confirmed that the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services had issued the new permit. He declined further comment.

Participants in Sunday's fun ride will still be able to trace the marathon's 26.2-mile route, which stretches from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica, but there will be no racing competition this year, Ward said. The city permit allows for riders to go 10 to 15 mph, he said.

The Marathon Crash Race has been an L.A. Marathon staple since 2009. Cyclists typically gather along Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake, wait for road closures to take effect along the route and barrel toward the finish line in Santa Monica, wrapping up around 6 a.m. As many as 2,000 cyclists have participated in the past.

But Ward said he canceled this year's Crash Race after the Bureau of Street Services sent a cease-and-desist letter that threatened fines and up to a year in county jail if the event was held without proper permits. The bureau expressed public safety concerns.

"To threaten criminal prosecution 5 days prior to the event taking place comes as a shock and disappointment," the announcement on Wolfpack Hustle's Facebook page said. "The city is now demanding permits and payments where it has never done so in the past."

Despite lacking a permit, organizers had developed good working relationships with the city and the LAPD, Ward said. Squad cars in recent years have driven the route with flashing lights to separate the cyclists from car traffic.

Even after Ward canceled this year's event, many cyclists insisted they would be taking to the streets anyway. Without a central organizer for the race, the city was faced with potentially hundreds of riders on the street without volunteers to help man intersections as in previous years, he said.

"The city realized … 'How do we get a permit and get Don back and involved and try to tame this thing?' " Ward said.

amina.khan@latimes.com

catherine.saillant@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Los Angeles Police DepartmentEric GarcettiDodger Stadium
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