Mark your calendars! General registration for the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon begins on April 7. You must act fast to nab one of the 30,000 spots in the October race: Last year, it sold out in just 16 days.
Why should you lace up your sneaks for the Marine Corps Marathon? It’s an incredibly supportive, military-friendly environment. Runners carry American flags and sport T-shirts with messages to friends who are serving overseas. To keep spirits high, Marines in uniform hand out drinks along the course. And the scenery couldn’t be more awe-inspiring: On your way to the finish line near the Iwo Jima Memorial, you’ll pass the Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington Monument, and more. There’s no question that this race deserves its nickname “The Marathon of the Monuments.”
First-time marathoners — like my mom and me in 2006 — love the Marine Corps Marathon’s flat course. You don’t need to be super fast to enter the race, but you must be able to “beat the bridge.” Translation: You need to make it to the 14th Street Bridge (mile marker 20) before it’s reopened to vehicles. If you can maintain a pace of 14 minutes per mile, you’ll beat the bridge and be allowed to finish the race. If you don’t, you’ll be taken off the course and driven to the finish line.
All seven people in my family who did the Marine Corps Marathon in 2006 finished the race, most with very respectable times. But if you ask me how long it took me and my mom — who hit mile 26.2 one second ahead of me — I’ll simply tell you this: We beat the bridge!
The 35th Marine Corps Marathon will be held on October 31, 2010. Registration for the general public opens online at marinemarathon.com on April 7. The course starts and finishes in Virginia, but winds through Washington, D.C.