I spent a good portion of my five hour drive home from DC thinking of ways to recap such an epic weekend. How to condense it, make it readable and fun, but not to lose any of the story. I’m also sleep deprived and very ready for #allthesleep. Those factors combined, I’ve decided to split my review and recap of the 41st Marine Corps Marathon into two separate posts. This post will be a marathon review of the race itself, and tomorrow I’ll recap my own race experience.
The Marine Corps Marathon is like no other race I’ve ever run. I prefer much smaller races — few crowds, small expos (if any), and not a lot of pomp and circumstance — so my experience with big races is limited. Having said that, everything at MCM was top notch — from the expo to the post-race atmosphere. If you’ve never done Marine Corps Marathon (or 10K), I highly recommend it. Here’s what to expect:
Marine Corps Marathon Review
This was the first year the expo was at the Gaylord National Convention Center. The hotel/convention center itself was beautiful. I had never been to National Harbor before and although it was quite a hike from where I was staying in Columbia Heights, it was quite beautiful.
Packet pick-up was amazing. Right away runners were greeted by marines before entering the expo. The marines know how to make a runner feel special — it was fantastic.
Maneuvering packet pick-up was easy. We walked right up to pick up our bibs, patches, and the race guide. Picking up our shirts was also easy as pie — and though I’ve heard complaints about the shirts in years past, I love my MCM race shirt. It’s one of my favorite colors (green!) and it fits well. Hopefully I’ll wear it lots this winter!
I pre-shopped for my MCM gear before the expo. I didn’t buy anything but my friend did and we were in and out fairly quickly. There were tons of vendors and they were spread out well enough that you didn’t miss any. There were also lots of photo opportunities throughout the expo, which was nice because you know — if there’s no picture, it didn’t happen!
Security and Starting Line
After hearing the horror stories from last year about security and the lines, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly and efficiently we moved through security. When we approached, marines directed us to lines for “bags” or “no bags.” Luckily no one in my party was checking a bag so we got in line, the marines and police officers checked our water bottles, we were wanded, and then we continued on our walk to the starting line. Quick and efficient.
It was surprisingly calm at the starting line. It was one of the more chilled out starting atmospheres I’ve experienced in a long time and I really liked it. Everyone was really laid back. There was party music pumping through huge speakers. The announcer was keeping the crowd upbeat and energetic. It was a fantastic way to spend an hour before the actual race began. Even the National Anthem was top notch. I’m not sure who performed but it was a group of women with the most incredible voices. Plus I actually heard the howitzer which I wasn’t expecting at all!
The crowd support was fantastic. Having said that, I realize why I don’t like big races. On the one hand, crowds make the miles fly by. But on the other hand, it gets very loud and congested and when you’re having a rough few miles and need to zone out and refocus, it’s incredibly hard to do so. There were many times on the course that I would think we were out of the crowds and wanted to refocus my efforts. I would turn on tunes or a podcast only to be interrupted a few steps later by yelling, cheering, cowbells, and all sorts of craziness. I’m definitely a small race kind of gal.
There was a new course this year for MCM. I thought overall the course was great. My only complaints are that there were a lot of out-and-backs (and they were loooooong out-and-backs), and sometimes in those sections the streets became very narrow. Most of the run/walkers near me were courteous enough to raise a hand and move over to the right when they would begin walking, but as it got later into the race fewer people were doing so. It was very clogged and congested in some areas since the streets weren’t very wide.
Other than that I loved the course. There was something for everyone: city running, running through the park, and running by the monuments on the National Mall, and finally around the Pentagon. There was on-course entertainment every couple of miles so if your mind started wandering (in a bad way), it was easy to stay positive — this is when a big race wins over a small race.
The Blue Mile
I had heard the Blue Mile was going to be tough. When I first realized I was coming up to the Blue Mile, I quickly ditched the tunes. I wanted to focus on the faces and names on as many signs as I could. I held it together pretty well until the last few photos. Then I saw a woman crouching by her person sobbing and I almost completely lost it. It was a very emotional mile. It was nicely juxtaposed by the Blue Mile volunteers immediately after. They were lining the course on both sides with American flags cheering us on. It was incredibly touching and it both humbled me and made me feel so proud to be part of MCM.
The post race party was good. I didn’t get to relish in my accomplishment as much as I would have liked, but that’s on me not them. The Marine Corps Marathon did a fantastic job with food, beverages, music, and entertainment.
Run With The Marines
If you have the desire or opportunity to run the Marine Corps Marathon, I highly recommend it. Everything was top notch from start to finish. It was an incredible experience that I won’t soon forget, nor do I want to. I had the time of my life.
I have so much more to tell. But honestly I’m just so pooped I need to sleep. I can’t wait to tell you all about my race specifically. It wasn’t the race I was hoping to run and at times I felt I failed miserably, but other times I was elated and had such a blast. I can’t wait to tell you all about it.
TALK TO ME!
Have you ever run with the marines?
What’s your favorite marathon?
Linking up with My No-Guilt Life, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and MCM Mama Runs for Tuesdays on the Run, and HoHo Runs and MissSippi Piddlin’ for the Weekly Wrap. Also linking up with Nicole, Annmarie, Jen, and Michelle for Wild Workout Wednesday, and myself, Susie, Debbie, and Lora Marie for the Running Coaches’ Corner linkup.