L.A. Marathon: Painful finish for some runners and their fans

Runners get medical attention near the L.A. Marathon's finish line in Santa Monica.
(Saba Hamedy / Los Angeles Times)

Two portable medical facilities set up near the L.A. Marathon’s finish line in Santa Monica were packed Sunday afternoon with injured and dehydrated runners seeking relief from the 26.2-mile race.

Alexis Perez-Rogers, a first-year medical student working at one of the facilities, said more than 50 people had stopped for help since 11 a.m.

VIDEO:Crossing the finish line


“We have everything from ibuprofen to IV fluids, if necessary,” said Perez-Rogers.

Most needed ice or water, but others sought additional aid in cots set up in the back.

At the other medical tent was a truck equipped with hospital beds, Perez-Rogers said.

Tatsuro Irie, 29, of Eagle Rock was resting on three ice packs with his feet elevated.

“My legs got cramped at mile 21,” he said, pointing to his hamstrings and a spot under his hip bone where it hurt. “I don’t know why it happened. I prepared and trained, but I couldn’t sleep well last night.”

This was Irie’s second marathon but, unfortunately, not his personal best.

“I was running really well and thought I was going to finish under three hours,” he said. “But then my leg started cramping and I heard some cracking so I knew if I pushed myself I would end up in worse shape.”

To avoid a more severe injury, he walk-jogged the last five miles.

On Ocean Avenue, less than a mile from the finish line, stood Peter Dovell, 57.

Dovell used to run ultra-marathons -- 50-mile tests of endurance and sanity -- before he lost his right leg in a freak accident about a decade ago. He was standing next to a gas pump when another driver slammed into it at full speed, causing an explosion.

“I was on fire from my shoulders down,” said Dovell, who now gets around in a wheelchair.

He flew in from New Hampshire to watch his daughter, Tracy Hoffstetter, run in the L.A. Marathon. In fact, he travels around the country to watch her compete in marathons.

She was hoping to run the L.A. race in under four hours, the general boundary between people running for a specific time and people who are happy just to finish.

As the clock crept past the four-hour mark, and the midday heat began to set in, Dovell fidgeted.

The last thing any distance runner wants is heat, it saps will faster than the worst cramps or the steepest hills.

No sign of his daughter yet.

“This is too hot for me,” Dovell said in his thick New England accent. “Give me a good snowstorm any day.”


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