Marine Corps Marathon Race Review

This post took longer to get up than I had planned. Oops.

Expo
While I wish that I had had the opportunity to get to DC on Friday rather than Saturday I still enjoyed the expo. From what I heard, going early made all the difference.

For my part, I expected long lines. After all, over 30,000 people ran the marathon and 10k. When we had to wait in probably the longest, curviest line I’ve ever waited in, I didn’t mind. It moved steadily and I never once got confused on where to go next. Mom and I struck up a conversation with Carmen, a lady we met while waiting for the Metro. Apparently we waited in the bib pick-up line for over an hour and a half. I didn’t notice.

Once I entered the tent it took no time at all to get my bib and patch. I exited the tent before Mom had enough time to come around to the other side.

The line to get into the expo was longer than I expected didn’t move as quickly as the first. Security was the reason for that hold up. However, I knew that MCM has a lot of security so it didn’t bother me.

The expo itself was huge and I barely saw any of it. I made sure to browse the official merchandise section. I was disappointed that only XS sized jackets remained for women and none for men. That, however, was not a failing of MCM but of Brooks. Apparently that had been the situation since early that morning. Brooks definitely dropped the ball on inventory when they ran out of a supremely popular item before thousands of potential customers (busiest day of the expo) had a chance to purchase. I did however purchase a great short-sleeve MCM tech-t for myself and a hat for Mom which she has run with already and loves.

I wish I had felt like exploring the expo more but at that point I wanted to get back to the hotel and rest up. I did browse a few booths before indulging in a soft pretzel from the concession stand. I think all expos should have a concession stand. Hot pretzels for the win!

The Race Itself
Getting to the race was no problem. We got onto the Metro a few minutes before 5 and enjoyed an easy ride with no crowding. I wasn’t expecting the long walk from the Pentagon Station to Runner’s Village but was a good opportunity to get “warmed up.”

Once in the parking lot, I marveled at the number of portopotties lined along the entire wall as well as a second line in front of those and two lines on the other side. During my two hour wait, I saw several lines form only because the runners didn’t see the other available portopotties.

I headed up to the start line soon enough that wading through the “corrals” to get to the 3:45-4:00 “corral” wasn’t too bad. That’s one thing I didn’t like about MCM, self-seeded corrals. In my opinion, San Francisco does it better with assigned corrals and entrances into the corral itself rather than no side entrances at all.

I expected it to take longer for me to cross the start than it did, pleasant surprise. Once onto the course I couldn’t stop smiling. I have never run a race with that much crowd support. Talk about infectious.

I loved almost every bit of the course. (The exception, of course, is the bridge and highway miles from 20ish-24ish. My mind is a bit fuzzy on the details from that part of the race.) One of my favorite bits was the long stretch of out and back during miles 8-12ish. I loved being able to see the other runners both going and coming. I also loved the Haines Point section (at least I think that’s what it was) and all the signs, from the memorial posters for fallen Marines to the “inspirational” signs written to specific runners. Running past the capital building was also pretty cool.

The volunteers and Marines at the aid stations were phenomenal. They always had encouraging words and a cup of Gatorade or water in their hands. The choice of Sports Beans and Munchkins for fuel options fairly late in the race perplexes me though. What runner in their right mind wants dry donut holes at any point in the race much less after mile 20?

Then came the end of the race and the infamous hill. Be warned. It’s pretty steep but lined with plenty of cheering spectators.

One especially great thing about the finish was the Marines lined up on either side with no job except to congratulate finishers. Super cool.

The medal is phenomenal, hands down my favorite. I have to mention that while waiting in line for the medal, the guy in front of me turned around and skeptically asked “You run this body?” I was wearing my “I run this body” shirt, obviously. I told him “of course!” He shrugged and turned around. Boys.

The last thing I have to mention in my review is my only major complaint. Mom intended to sit in the stands and watch me finish. However, because she had a large bag she was not allowed to enter and was directed back to the Metro. Two problems. One, MCM never communicated a prohibition on large bags at the finish. Two, she was not directed to the family link up area within easy walking distance. This caused considerable headache when we tried to meet up afterwards.

I also heard that many people did not receive finishers medals. I’m not sure what happened but hope that MCM got that straightened out.

Overall, I had a fantastic experience and if San Francisco hadn’t already stolen my heart I might consider making this my favorite. I highly recommend this race to anyone who has a chance to run it. It is well worth every bit.

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2 Comments

Filed under marathon, running

2 responses to “Marine Corps Marathon Race Review

  1. Jen

    Great recap, and congrats! My boyfriend had the same issue re: backpacks at the end. What made it worse was that once he handed his backpack to my sister (who didn’t get to the finishing area in time) was that he saw a lot of people inside the finish area WITH backpacks! I even asked MCM on their Facebook wall, and they said spectators were allowed to have backpacks — no ifs, ands, or buts. So that was frustrating.

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