The vast majority of this race is in DC but it technically counts for Virginia because it begins and ends there… plus DC isn’t a state. Next up on blasts from marathons past…
Marine Corps Marathon, 2008 & 2012
Website: Marine Corps Marathon.
Entry: (Now) Lottery or charity teams.
Size: 30,000. Full marathon only.
Time of Year and What I Wore: End of October. Weather should be PERFECT this time of year unless there is a little rain or wind (like in 2012). I wore wore a light pullover for the beginning of the race because it was a bit chillier in the morning.
Logistics: This race starts and ends just outside DC in VA, although most of the running happens in the city proper. Start and finish are Metro accessible, although be prepared to slowly sift through the crowds in Rosslyn after the race. This race is easy to travel to if you are from out of town. The closest (and most accessible) airport is DCA. There are lots of hotel and lodging options for all budgets and desires.
Swag and Expo: I really enjoyed the MCM expo, which is now even more accessible at the Convention Center right in the city and close to restaurants, hotels, etc. Packet pickup is easy, particularly considering the size of this race. Shirt is not a tech tee, but it is long-sleeved. (My ideal is the elusive long-sleeved tech tee, like that from the Freedom’s Run Marathon.) After the race, I believe they handed out those easy post-race pre-packed snack boxes.
Terrain and Landscape: Pavement. Some minor hills, especially during the first five miles, but nothing too terrible. Lots of great sights–many monuments, the National Mall (where many of the museums and monuments are–plus the Capitol), scenic Rock Creek Park, the Potomac River. Great crowd support and many viewing options for spectators. Also expect to see costumes, fun shirts, and entertaining signs. You don’t really get a feel for “real DC”–the part where we all live and go out–during the race, so make sure you explore a little before or after the race.
Speed: So, the first time I ran this race I had an IT-band injury that really interfered with my running, and I ended up finishing over 5 hours. (Want to know how to prevent and treat IT band injuries? Stay tuned for a future post!) I ran the first 10 miles, and then had to walk most of the rest, doing mental math to figure out if I was going to finish within the 6 hour cut-off (I did!). The second time I ran, several years and many marathons later, I finished in about 3:58, which I was OK with, but not overjoyed with given my goals at that time. I’d say this course is pretty fast but isn’t necessarily the fastest around if you are looking for a BQ or PR. The main reason? This is a crowded race. It is well-executed for its size, but I don’t love the shuffling that occurs for the first 6 or so miles, and I don’t love waiting in line for 5 minutes outside a bathroom on course. If you are going to have to use the bathroom, definitely do it early on, not because the lines will be shorter, but because the inevitable waiting will have less of an effect on your legs.
Other Comments: If you are looking to do a DC race, this is the one to do, rather than the National Marathon in the spring. I have not heard good things about the National Marathon. This would also be a fabulous first marathon.
Overall: Like it.
Anyone running MCM this year? I’m happy to give out restaurant recommendations!
I would love restaurant recommendations! I’m coming from Ottawa (Canada) to race, I’m so excited! I’m ok for the days before (will have a kitchen to do my own cooking) but i really want a nice place to celebrate after the race! Somewhere easy to get to with transit (I’m staying right near the finish line). I’d be happy with anything from a nice steak to a wicked pizza!
Hey Steph! Thanks for stopping by the blog and welcome (soon) to DC! If you are staying in Rosslyn, I highly recommend making the short walk over the Key Bridge into Georgetown (DC). If you want something really nice for a celebratory dinner, I’d highly recommend Fiola Mare. It is right on the Georgetown waterfront and specializes in Italian and seafood (but I’ve never had anything bad there!). For good pizza in a bit more casual atmosphere, you could try Pizzeria Paradiso, also in Georgetown but on the main thoroughfare, M Street. If you don’t mind hopping on the Metro and would like to see a bit more the city, you could take the Orange/Blue directly in to Metro Center and then walk to Proof (American food, really nice wine list) or Jaleo (Spanish tapas, DC-famous chef Jose Andres). Once you bring in the possibility of changing trains, the options are endless but hopefully this gives you a start!
Thank you sooo much! Your wisdom is appreciated! 🙂 I’m really looking forward to this race, I can’t wait!
(Sorry for my comments appearing twice. My browser kicked me off and didn’t show my previous comment before I re-wrote it. I promise I run better than I internet!)
I’d love restaurant recommendations! I’ll be coming from Ottawa (Canada) . I’m ok for the days before the race but am looking for a nice place for dinner to celebrate the evening of the race! I’d love anything from a nice steak to a great pizza! (easy to get to would be best!)
Also, any tips when it comes to pacing in the first uphill miles?
In the first few miles, things are really crowded. If you go out aggressively at the start, you’ll not only burn yourself with the uphill, but also with weaving in and out of the crowd. I’d say just go into it knowing that you have a few gentle shuffling miles with 30,000 of your closest friends, and about 20 more miles after that to push the pace more and stretch your legs. Maybe choose some more calming music (or no music) for that portion, or chat up a few folks in the starting corral and try to stick with them for that bit. And take in the scenery! GOOD LUCK!
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