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Strong winds and heavy rain brought on a storm advisory in the 24 hours leading up to the race’s 4 am start time, setting the stage for a dangerous race and influencing some riders to stay home rather than risk the perilous conditions. Still the weather did not manage to deter the nearly two thousand riders that woke up at two—or stayed up all night—from jumping at the chance to race across the city from East Hollywood to Santa Monica on empty streets, closed to cars in the hours before the 27th L.A. Marathon.

Since inception three years ago when the bike portion of the marathon was cancelled, the crash race has been drawing professional and amateur road racers to L.A. to compete in the underground event. This year riders poured in from New York, St. Louis, Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle, Tempe, and all over California. Micah Goulet, one of the members of the first satellite chapter of Wolfpack Hustle, in St. Louis called the race “every cyclist’s wet dream.”

Ten days before the race, registration approached 800. A week later the number doubled. And when race day came, more than 2,000 names filled the registration list. With John the Roadie, the top finisher for the first two years, stepping out of the running; and 2011’s first place fixed woman, Lynn Kennedy, put on the sidelines with a broken elbow, there was room for new blood to take top honors.

The crowd grew dense as the start time approached. Just before three a pair of LAPD black and whites drove down the street, lights flashing. Both outfitted with bike racks, the squad cars raised fears that the race might be getting shut down, that it may have gotten too big in its third year.