As a marathoner, there are a few “must-run” races we all want to finish and the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) is one of them. Not only is MCM the 4th largest marathon in the U.S., but it is held at our Nation’s Capital. I signed up for MCM as a charity runner for Alzheimer’s and spent months training, raising money ($1525) and convincing my friends that as soon as the race was over, I’d be fun again. Here’s a little bit about my experience at MCM and why I recommend every marathoner try it!
I took the Mega Bus from NYC to DC the day before the race. It just so happens that the day I arrived in DC, was also the Rally to Restore Sanity, which appeared to be causing more chaos than sanity. Regardless, the first step for a successful marathon weekend is attending the Expo, so I found my way to the Convention Center and was instantly taken in by the race experience energy.
The Expo was filled with thousands of people just like me who traveled from all over the world to conquer 26.2 miles. I picked up my race packet from a friendly Marine, visited a few vendor booths and then walked over to the Carbo Dining In Dinner. The dinner was a wonderful experience filled with military entertainment, guest speakers and even a drill sergeant.
The following morning on October 31, 2010, I lined up on route 110 in Arlington with 30,000 other runners and off we went.
The first eight miles were slightly up hill, but views of the Potomac River, coupled with the thousands of fans cheering us on, made them fly by. At mile ten we came to the Lincoln Memorial and then pushed on to the Jefferson Memorial.
At the Jefferson Memorial we continued following the Potomac River and then came back up to the Jefferson Memorial along the Washington Channel. At mile 15, we took in amazing views of the Washington Monument, circled back around the Lincoln Memorial and then ran up Constitution Avenue past the White House at mile 17.
Miles 18,19 and 20 were filled with thousands of cheering fans, Marines handing out donuts and a few painful strides. After mile 20, we crossed the Rochambeau Memorial Bridge for the final stretch of the race. The last 6.2 miles brought us past the Pentagon, through crowds of supporters and even past a group of people handing out beer. The final 1/2 mile was past the Arlington Cemetery and then we crossed the finish line at the Iwo Jima Memorial. Yes….it was an emotional finish.
Running the Marine Corps Marathon was an amazing experience for me. Not only is it “The People’s Marathon,” but I had the chance to run for something bigger than myself, The Alzheimer’s Association. Running for those who can’t pushed me through each mile, up each hill and past the finish line. I started training for MCM in memory of my Grandma Gabriel, but as the months went on I came across so many other people who have/had a loved one with Alzheimer’s and I ended up running for even more.
Also, not only was I running for Alzheimer’s, but I got to run for all of the brave men and women who fight for this country everyday. When things got tough, I remembered how lucky I am that I live in the United States of America and am free to run this race. The experience was definitely unforgettable and I will hang my medal with pride.
A special thanks to the Marines who really made this marathon a success. There is a difference between a volunteer and a volunteer who cares….and these Marines cared. They handed out water with enthusiasm, cheered into megaphones and offered high-fives to anyone who needed one. Oorah!