LOS ANGELES – On Tuesday, Fred Mogaka was back in Ngong, Kenya, where he shares a two-room apartment with his wife and three-month-old son and tends to a plot of maize in between training runs. His agent and sponsor, Scott Robinson, was on the phone from Santa Fe, N.M., telling him that the Los Angeles Marathon contacted him looking for elite runners to fill out the field, and would Mogaka come if they covered his airfare and hotel. “No, I can’t,” Mogaka said, having been in training for half-marathons. “I’m not prepared.” After some long-distance pleading, Mogaka relented. The next day, he began a 26-hour journey from Nairobi to Los Angeles via London, and then spent another 4 hours in customs at LAX because he couldn’t provide officials the name or address of the hotel he had been booked. On Sunday, the trouble was worth it. Mogaka, showing a finishing kick he wasn’t expected to have, surged past three runners in the final two miles and edged fellow countryman Moses Kororia to win the race in 2 hours, 17 minutes and 14 seconds, the slowest winning time in the event’s 22-year history. By being the first one to cross the finish line – the top women runners were given a nearly 20-minute head start – Mogaka earned a $100,000 bonus along with the $20,000 prize and new Honda Accord that’s awarded to the winner of the men’s and women’s division. Ramilia Burangolova, a 46-year-old Russian, won the women’s race in 2:37:54, the slowest winning time by a woman in 14 years. That two undistinguished marathoners – Burangolova’s personal best came more than a decade ago and Mogaka has run the race only three times – were victorious with such pedestrian times that it was a setback for race organizers who are seeking to elevate the Los Angeles race among the pantheon of marathons – Chicago, New York and Boston. Amid much fanfare, the course was redesigned this year, starting it near Universal Studios and ending it downtown, near the Central Library. It is the first time the race did not finish where it began. This idea was to lay out a fast course that would lure the world’s best runners. While the downhill portion, from mile 2 through 7, added speed – wheelchair racers exceeded 40 mph careening down Cahuenga Blvd. – all it did for the runners was burn the field out. Abebe Tola, who led the women’s race by more than three minutes near the midway point, faded badly and finished third. And the pack of four Kenyans who led the men – Mogaka, Kororia, Christopher Kipyejo and Christopher Kipcoech Rutto – were almost nine minutes slower over the second half of the course. “I felt like I was struggling,” said Kipyego, who finished third. “I told my friends, we’re running too fast.” The warm temperatures it was sunny and in the low 70s by the time Mogaka hit the tape and the traditionally late starting time – close to 8:30 a.m. – didn’t help matters. “I was feeling hot,” Mogaka said. “I tried to store energy at the end. I wanted to have finishing power.” The slow times, absence of marquee names, and the way organizers scrambled to get Mogaka might have been a case of you-get-what-you-pay-for. First-place prizes were cut from $35,000 last year to $20,000 and it wasn’t until last week that the challenge bonus was raised from $50,000 to $100,000, where it stood a year ago. Among those absent were last year’s winners Benson Cherono and Lidiya Grigoryeva, who had set course records. Marathon president Dr. William Burke said that purse cuts shouldn’t be be taken as a sign that the race is struggling financially. He said the organization spent about $400,000, close to half of what it spent a year ago, to lure its top class of 19men and six women. But those savings instead went to cover extra costs – police, fire, etc. – that resulted from having the race cover a wider swath of the city. The top marathons around the world often spend between $700,000 and $1million luring the best runners. Some of that money goes for appearances fees and some for rich payouts, like the New York Marathon, which paid $130,000 to the men’s and women’s winners last October. Burke said the plan this year was to work out any kinks with the new design, comparing it to having a new fish tank and putting in inexpensive fish to test it out. “These were the testers,” Burke said. “Next year, we’ll bring in the big guns.” At least one little fish didn’t mind. Mogaka called his wife after the race to tell her the good news. He’ll use his winnings to buy a parcel of land and build a house when he returns home after three months in the United States racing and training, a journey that now seems well worth the trouble. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!