Many participants were there to top their all-time best times. Some came with dreams of racing past the mighty Kenyans, who have taken top spots for almost a decade. But most ran for themselves, or a cause or to inspire someone in their lives. As an enthusiastic Tina Smith warmed up with friends; she said her personal theme this year was “you only live once.” “I want to inspire my kids,” said the Pasadena resident, who ran her first marathon Sunday. Brandon Ross, 37, of Santa Monica, said he was glad the starting gun went off in the San Fernando Valley. “It’ll be nice starting out here,” said Ross, ahead of his eighth marathon. “This will give the Valley a little more identity.” Marathon organizers called this year’s run one of many firsts: A new start line for the first time in the San Fernando Valley area, a sprint through East Los Angeles, and a point-to-point course instead of a loop. The course also passed through Hollywood before coming to an end at Fifth and Flower streets downtown. And Mother Nature did her part by offering up clear, blue skies. Still, as temperatures rose in the afternoon, more than 100 calls came into the Los Angeles Fire Department to treat heat exhaustion and dehydration. One man died during the 22-mile bicycle race held in conjunction with the marathon. The man, believed to have been in his 50s, died of an apparent heart attack. “We’ve had a lot of heat-related emergencies,” said Melissa Kelley, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Fire Department. “It’s the heat combined with the humidity that is a big factor.” The Metro Red Line got a good workout as well, with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority adding extra trains to take runners to the start line and their fans back to downtown to watch the finish. Many sat huddled inside the Universal City station in the early morning to keep warm ahead of the big race. Stuntman Dennis Marsella, who has run in 56 marathons and is well-known among seasoned runners as “The Coatman,” donned his trademark wing-tipped shoes and denim jacket for the race. He praised marathon president William Burke for the decision to move the route and encourage participants to use public transportation, just as in New York. “In New York, they take buses to the marathon, so (using public transportation) is a good thing,” said Marshall, 56. “Burke’s not given enough credit.” Some admitted that the new course gave them a case of the jitters. “That it doesn’t start and end in the same place makes me nervous, but I also know that the race is 13 miles downhill, so I’m looking forward to that,” said Mike Bernard, 65, of Granada Hills. “There are many more positives this year.” [email protected] (818) 713-3664 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Surrounded by high-rise hotels and the Hollywood Freeway, the runners took off amid cheers from family members and other supporters. Many of the runners used the event to bring attention to a cause, such as cancer or the war in Iraq. “It’s an opportunity for me to stay healthy,” said Liz Roark, 48, of Palmdale, who was running for AIDS awareness. “I’ve lost 185 pounds.” Once again, Kenyan men dominated the pack, finishing first, second and third. Fred Mogaka, 18, won the contest with a finishing time of 2 hours, 17 minutes, and 14 seconds. Russian Ramilia Burangolova, 45, who now lives in Florida, was the fastest woman, finishing in 2:37.54. Spectators lined the Lankershim Boulevard overpass on the Hollywood Freeway to watch as the massive crowd of runners in neon T-shirts, caps and parkas uncoiled itself like a colorful caterpillar that began inching its way toward Hollywood. PHOTO GALLERIES: L.A. Marathon | L.A. Marathon, 2UNIVERSAL CITY For the first time in its history, the Los Angeles Marathon not only passed through a sliver of the San Fernando Valley, it also kicked off in Universal City – one of a number of iconic stops on the newly designed route. Nearly 25,000 runners, walkers, thrill-seekers – and even some middle-aged guys dressed as superheroes – crowded onto the intersection of Cahuenga and Lankershim boulevards in Universal City for the start of the 22nd race.