All winter I have said that I would not run the Marine Corps Marathon in 2016. They are moving packet pick-up to National Harbor (a big hassle for me) and I want to focus on Richmond. When registration opened for the 17.75K, which gives you a guaranteed entry into the marathon at the finish, I decided to just do it for a training run (I needed 12 miles for that day and the race is just a hair over 11 with some nice hills) but give the code to someone else. Yeah, we’ll just leave that there for a few minutes while I do my race report…
This is the third time I have run this race and I volunteered at it last year. It was definitely more organized at the start and finish than in years past. The course was the same from the past two years – about 4 miles on a dirt and gravel road, five miles of pavement, and about 2 more on the dirt again. I love running trails but this dirt road always pisses me off. I’m not sure why. I was very happy to see the bit of pavement! Also, while the transportation logistics in 2013 were a nightmare, I did like that course more. It ran by the water/streams in several spots and there were a few bridges. This revised course has no water and one bridge over a dry gully. For scenery, it’s a “meh” in my book.
They were offering packet pickup by the race site on Thursday and Friday but no proxy pick up and none in my group could make the hours. We decided to go the morning of. Our group met at 5 am for some Starbucks and made the quick trip to the commuter lot near the start. We got right on a bus and were at the starting area by 5:25. We quickly received our bibs and shirts (short sleeve unisex tech) and made our way to the nearby church, where we were able to keep out of the increasing rain and use a real bathroom.
At 6:25, we went to bag check and then took a group MRTT picture and waited for the start. They had a moment of silence for the Prince William County police officers that were killed in the line of duty a few months ago. They then had the presentation of the colors and a woman sang the National Anthem. I’m glad it was raining because I was freely crying at this point.
Before we knew it, we were off and running. There were no start corrals so we just took off, en mass. It was a bit of a cluster but they had the entire section of road closed that we used to get to the park entrance (one year they had just the shoulder closed and I thought I was going to die!)
The miles went by pretty quickly! My training partner and I were testing our tutus for Blue Ridge and they worked very well and received a lot of comments (aside from the woman who made a snide remark as we were leaving the church. Followed by me promptly telling here where to go!).
The aid stations were organized and were about every 2 miles or so. They just had water but that was okay. Two had monster tower speakers so the music was nice, even if one was playing a slow Taylor Swift song and the other had on Journey 🙂
My favorite part was a little out-and-back before the last mile. We saw several friends there and that was a nice pick-me-up. Before we knew it, we were making the turn out of the park and into the finish chute! I saw no one wipe out at this race but one lady almost did as she took that corner way too fast! More people seemed to be super focused at this race than in years past. They used to just cruise along for the guaranteed entry but we saw quite a few hot dogs this time around.
Right when we crossed the last mat, volunteers were there with medals (a nice addition last year!) and then, a few yards away, a line was set up to give us our Golden Ticket!
Then, on to food! I swear, I have never seen so much food at a race before! Even more than the marathon! They had beet juice (I tried it, pretty rough), yogurt, bananas, cup of peaches, chips, trail mix, and fresh popped popcorn (OMG! Get in my mouth!). I was happily snacking away while we waited in the bag check line but it wasn’t very long before I was tired of being cold and wet and just wanted to GO. They only had 3-4 people work the bag check so it was super slow and our hands were blue/white by the time we go to the front of the line.
We quickly grabbed our bags and walked right to the bus for the commuter lot and were off within minutes! After that, it was back to our meet-up point for more Starbucks and some time to chat and relax. Overall, it was a good day!
Oh, and I now had the access code for the marathon in my hot little hands. The first person I offered it to ended up not needing it as she got in via the lottery. The second person decided she didn’t have time for a fall marathon this year so… guess who’s running MCM for a 3rd time! 😀 Crazy, I tell you!
I like the medal and the shirt was okay (I’m glad it was a short sleeve)
The parking logistics were perfect
Using the church before the start was super nice
The overall organization of the finish, including the food, was great!
Not So Good
No heat blanket at the end. We were all cold and soaked so that would have been nice.
Organization of bag pick up wasn’t very good – they needed more people to help.
I’m just not a huge fan of the course.
I feel like they improve every year. I would definitely do this again.
Oh, and fun fact! 60% of the field was female! That’s so awesome!