20th Annual Los Angeles Marathon

The Los Angeles Marathon's elite male runners will have to overcome a 15 minute 50 second head start that will be given to its field of elite women runners in order to win "The Challenge" and be the first person across the finish line.

You can even just have a casual run if you like.

The Challenge is a unique race-within-a-race that allows men and women to compete against each other on a level playing field for a cash bonus of $75,000 for crossing the finish line first. The event was created by the L.A. Marathon and introduced for the first time in 2004.

The wheel chairs are off

This year's time differential is four minutes 40 seconds shorter than the 20 minute 30 second handicap afforded the Elite Women in 2004, which resulted in a win by Tatyana Pozdnyakova, 49, of the Ukraine who crossed the finish line a full 3 minutes 54 seconds ahead of male champion David Kirui of Kenya.

2005 marathon course map

In 2004, the handicap was created based on the average difference between the winning men's and women's times over the first 18 years of the L.A. Marathon. The 2005 handicap was shortened to compensate for the collectively stronger field of Elite Women runners who are scheduled to compete on Sunday, March 6.

In the final stretch

According to L.A. Marathon officials, the diminished handicap could result in the closest first-place finish between a male and female runner in the L.A. Marathon's 20-year history. At the same time, the stakes are raised. This year's Challenge will yield a bonus of $75,000, up $25,000 from the 2004 bonus of $50,000.

Keeping out front

In 2004, the gripping format of The Challenge resulted in higher ratings of televised viewers than the most recent New York City and Chicago Marathon's combined.

This year's event will be broadcast via the World Wide Web for the first time courtesy of NBC4 in Los Angeles.  The Webcast will enable a global audience to experience NBC4's live broadcast of the marathon in real-time by logging onto NBC4.TV or by linking through lamarathon.com.  The Webcast simulcast and NBC4's live broadcast will take place on Sunday, March 6 from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. A Marathon wrap-up show will air on NBC4 Sunday from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Telemundo 52's live broadcast in Spanish will air Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

The Los Angeles Marathon is the largest marathon in the state, fourth largest in the country and seventh largest in the world.  It is expected to draw more than 25,000 runners on March 6. Runners from all 50 states and 80 countries and expected to participate in the 20th anniversary event. Historically, 80 percent of all participants have hailed California as their home making the race one of the city's most highly participated and defining events.

The L.A. Marathon presented by Honda takes place Sunday, March 6, 2005.  In addition to American Honda Motor Co., Inc., marathon sponsors include American Airlines, City of Angels Medical Center, NBC4, Telemundo 52, Saucony, Sparkletts and Emerald Nuts.  To date, more than 350,000 runners and walkers have participated in the L.A. Marathon.  For more information or to register for L.A. Marathon XX visit www.lamarathon.com or call (310) 444-5544.

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