L.A. Marathon Champions to Return for 1989 Race

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Times Staff Writer

Choosing to take an optimistic view, the organizers of the Los Angeles Marathon Thursday introduced the elite field for the March 5 race as the best ever in its 4 years.

The runners include the 1988 men’s and women’s winners, Martin Mondragon and Blanca Jaime of Mexico; Orlando Pizzolato of Italy; Mark Plaatjes, who was third last year; Art Boileau of Canada, the winner of the 1987 L.A. race, and Greg Meyer, who won the 1983 Boston Marathon.

Mondragon and Jaime said at a news conference that they were excited to be back to defend their titles and were looking forward to running in front of the many Latinos in Southern California.


“This is the best field the Los Angeles Marathon has ever had,” said Bill Burke, president of the marathon. Mondragon was the surprise winner of last year’s race, setting a course record of 2 hours 10 minutes 19 seconds. Jaime’s winning time was 2:36:10.

Pizzolato is a two-time winner of the New York Marathon and was 16th in the Seoul Olympic Marathon. Plaatjes has the best time of the field, 2:08:58.

Boileau, a Canadian living in Eugene, Ore., had expressed an interest in running here last year, but his agent could not come to terms with Burke.

Meyer, who had back surgery last year to repair a damaged disk, has run 2:09.

Burke also said that Gidamis Shahanga of Tanzania, who was second here in 1986, will run.

Grete Waitz had intended to run here but injured her foot in training. Burke said Waitz had committed to run here next year.

However, until the race can lure the world’s top runners--and that takes large sums of money--the Los Angeles Marathon will not be considered on the same level as Boston, New York or London.

Burke said his race uses bonuses and other incentives to reward runners. The prize money for first place this year is $26,385; last year, it was $25,000. There is $25,000 for the first man to run faster than 2:09 and the first woman to beat 2:25. Last year, the money was the same, but the times were 2:10 and 2:30.