My long-term goal for this year is to run the Marine Corp Marathon (aka “The People’s Marathon”) in October. Last year, it took just under 3 hours to fill the race. While there were still slots to be had with charity groups, my dismal attempts at fundraising for the MC 10K made it quite clear that I needed to get in on the early registration!
Why any large races continue to use Active.com is beyond me. With this race being the “golden ticket” where finishers were guaranteed entry into the MCM, I knew the slots would go fast and I wasn’t wrong. There were some moments of stress when Active kept crashing but I finally did secure my spot. The race sold out in just a few hours.
Packet Pick-Up, SWAG
Racers were given the option of picking up their packet on Thursday at VA Runner in Woodbridge or at Quantico on Friday. There were also some packets being picked up at the start line. We decided to go on Thursday and were at the running store right when they opened at 10 so there wasn’t much of a line. I picked up my bib and the very nice, long sleeve, technical shirt. We were given a clear bag for our stuff but I wasn’t sure if it was for bag check or what. At the 10K, we had a label with our bib number to stick on our bag if we were checking it. There was no label so I decided not to check anything rather than risk loosing (Foreshadowing – bad move!) I also picked up my shirt that I bought as part of Moms Run This Town running groups.
Runners were instructed to park at the commuter lot in Quantico Corner. I didn’t scope out the location earlier so I just followed directions. It was pretty cold that morning (low 30s) so I hung out in the car for as long as I could where I drank some EFS and ate a Mac Attack. I wore a long sleeve shirt, my MRTT race shirt, long pants, wools socks, beanie, gloves. I also wore a sign recognizing my nephew for his service in the Marine Corp. He is newly deployed, newly married, and has a baby on the way so I dedicated the run to him.
At 7:00, I loaded the bus and we rode over to the small shopping plaza that was serving as the start. It turns out that there was plenty of parking at the start. This was not a spectator friendly course so there were mostly just runners milling around. I met the MRTT runners for our group picture and then hit up the pancake restaurant to use their facilities rather than suffer through the freezing (and too few) port-a-johns.
Just before 8:00, the invocation was given and the Star Spangle Banner was sung and then we were off! The first three miles were along a pretty busy road and we only had use of one lane and the paved path off to the side. I stayed on the path when I could so I didn’t risk being hit. We then turned into the Prince William Park where we ran on a trail for a bit before joining the paved (and closed) park road. The only spectators were the Marines who were the Course Marshals and the volunteers at the water stations. They tried to make up for the lack of faces by cheering and giving out plenty of high fives. There were also “demotivational” posters along the course such as “Is that all you’ve got?” and “No, you are NOT almost there!” which I found pretty amusing.
There were plenty of the promised “rolling” hills and some that there were killers. The downhills were a blast and the woods were very pretty. Some of the course ran along a nice stream and I enjoyed the sights and sounds along that stretch. What I did not enjoy was the last mile! It was a trail that was pretty steep (up and down) with very deep and loose stone. I was worried about twisting something so I just took that nice and slow.
I finished in 2:09:59. I could have taken about 7 minutes off from that time but I was treating this as a training run so I didn’t want to kill myself. I was happy with my time and effort.
After crossing the finishing mat, we had to queue up and work our way up another steep hill for the water, fruit, bagels, etc. I then wandered around the finisher area and waited in line for a while in what turned out to be the beer line. I finally found what I wanted – the tent where I turned in my ticket for the MCM access pass and the race’s Warrior Chip. I then decided to head for the bus line but first grabbed two Muscle Milks on the way. I had to wait for an hour for the bus where I became extremely cold and stiff. I was kicking myself for not checking a jacket!! I also drank both Muscle Milks because I didn’t know when I’d ever get back to the car. I paid for that with a migraine the next day. I learned to always check a bag with extra clothes and food when I run without my “support team”.
No on-course photographers. Long wait for the buses. Not enough port-a-johns (I saw a TON of guys in the woods. Seriously, at least step behind a tree!)
Most of the course was pretty. It wasn’t too crowded (only 2,177 ran it). The shirt was very nice. Getting the access pass for MCM and registering with ease on Saturday was priceless.