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!