Gidamis Shahanga, who led Sunday’s Los Angeles Marathon for 26 miles, then dropped out of sight, surfaced Monday at a press conference, saying the heat had forced him to slow his pace. He finished fourth.
Shahanga wasn’t the only casualty claimed by Sunday’s high temperatures, but his was the most dramatic fade. Shahanga, from Tanzania, said he was in control until the 20-mile mark.
“I missed the water stations at 23 and 24 miles,” he said. “I think that affected my performance. I felt so very tired that I had to walk. If I had gotten water, I don’t think we would be talking like this.”
Shahanga said he missed getting water at 23 miles and didn’t see the water station at 24.
Art Boileau, who won in 2 hours 13 minutes 1 second, said he felt fine. He was not as affected by the heat as Shahanga, who set a fast early pace. The women’s winner, Zoya Ivanova of the Soviet Union, whose time was 2:34:42, also said she had no lingering effects from the heat.
Ivanova answered Sunday’s burning question: Would Soviet officials allow her to keep the luxury car she had won? Yes. Her order of a burgundy sedan would be shipped to her home in the southeastern Soviet Union, where, she said, not even the mayor had such a car.
Marathon President Bill Burke said he was pleased with the fourth annual race, which drew 18,861 entrants.
“We need more time,” he said. “Now we have the money, we have the recognition, we have the athletes. We just need more time to mature.”
Channel 13’s marathon coverage averaged an 11.8 Nielsen rating and a 34 share, the best sports rating of the day in Los Angeles. The Lakers on Channel 2 drew a 7.4 rating and a 22 share, the Dodgers on Channel 11 a 5.9 and a 16.
Last year’s L.A. Marathon on Channel 13 averaged a 12.5 rating and a 34 share.