Marine Corps Marathon

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Marine Corps Marathon
LocationWashington, DC,
Arlington, Virginia, USA
Event typeRoad Race
Course records2:14:01 Jeff Scuffins, United States
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Marine Corps Marathon
LocationWashington, DC,
Arlington, Virginia, USA
Event typeRoad Race
Course records2:14:01 Jeff Scuffins, United States

The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) is an annual marathon held in Arlington, Virginia and Washington, DC. The mission of the MCM is to promote physical fitness, generate community goodwill and showcase the organizational skills of the United States Marine Corps.

The MCM was established in 1976 and is currently the third largest marathon in the United States and the eighth largest in the world. The race field of 30,000 is composed of runners from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and more than 50 countries. The MCM is known as "The People's Marathon" because it is open to all runners ages 14 and above and is the largest marathon that does not offer prize money.

The race typically occurs on the final Sunday in October, a few weeks before the United States Marine Corps birthday on November 10. The running of the 38th Marine Corps Marathon took place on October 27, 2013.


The course, which varies slightly from year to year, is certified by USA Track and Field. The current route starts in Arlington, VA on Route 110 and winds its way through Rosslyn along Lee Highway before turning on Spout Run and the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Runners experience a climb on Lee Highway in the first few miles of the course, but are rewarded with a descent along Spout Run and the Parkway.

After crossing Key Bridge into Georgetown, runners turn toward the Palisades Community when the course follows Canal Road, up to the reservoir and down MacArthur Boulevard. The course guides runners down popular M Street in Georgetown.

Runners turn on Wisconsin Avenue and then K Street. The course passes the Kennedy Center and guides runners to the back of the Lincoln Memorial before continuing on Ohio Drive into Hains Point at the halfway point.

Outside Potomac Park, runners get a glimpse of the Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin. On Independence Avenue, competitors run by the newly unveiled Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial and FDR Memorial. The runners loop back along Independence Avenue on the side closest to the National Mall and the Korean War Veterans Memorial and National World War II Memorial before making a left turn onto 15th Street at the Washington Monument.

At Madison Drive, runners pass through the marathon's "Gauntlet" checkpoint and down the north side of the National Mall, running by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History and the National Gallery of Art. After a loop around the reflecting pool in front of the U.S. Capitol, runners continue down the south side of the National Mall past the Smithsonian Castle. Runners move along Jefferson Drive and turn onto the 14th Street to marathon's "Beat the Bridge" checkpoint at mile 20 before returning to Virginia.

For the last 10K, runners enjoy the color and energy of Crystal City. At the Pentagon, runners pass in close proximity to the Pentagon Memorial honoring the victims of 9/11. Finally, the course unfurls alongside the Arlington National Cemetery then offers a final, up-hill challenge to the finish at the Marine Corps War Memorial. This finish has remained unchanged since the inaugural running of the MCM in 1976.[1]


On October 17, 1975 MCM founder Colonel Jim Fowler wrote a memo to his supervisor, General Michael Ryan, outlining his idea of creating a Marine Corps Reserve Marathon to promote goodwill between the military and the community post-Vietnam. Colonel Fowler believed a race like this would showcase the Marine Corps, serve as a recruiting tool and give local Marines the opportunity to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

General Ryan embraced the idea of a Marine marathon and submitted it to then-Marine Corps Commandant General Louis Wilson for approval. With General Wilson’s blessing, the planning process for the first MCM began. With news of the inaugural marathon quickly spreading, Gunnery Sergeant Alex Breckenridge, a member of the 1960 Olympic Marathon Team, soon lent his support. With Gunnery Sergeant Breckenridge acting as ambassador for the marathon effort, local jurisdictions approved of the event.

Through the efforts of the marathon coordinators and with support from Secretary of the Navy, William J. Middendorf, the inaugural running of the MCM was held on November 7, 1976. The 1,175 participants ran a course through northern Virginia and finished at the Marine Corps War Memorial, becoming the first of thousands of MCM runners over a span of 36 years to take the final hill and finish at the Iwo Jima monument. Kenneth Moore of Eugene, OR finished with a time of 2:21:14 becoming the first MCM winner. He was awarded a trophy provided by Secretary Middendorf for his achievement.

Marathon organizers reexamined the course for the 1977 MCM and secured permits to run through Washington, D.C. The route planned then laid the foundation for the scenic course in place today starting in Arlington, VA, winding its way around key landmarks in the nation’s capital and returning for the traditional finish at the Marine Corps War Memorial. With the changes to the course and a surge of positive publicity from the first running, the second MCM drew a field of 2,655 runners.

Participation in the MCM steadily increased over the next few years, resulting in a transfer of race coordinating from the Marine Corps Reserve to active duty Marines at Marine Barracks 8th and I. Shortly thereafter, even more growth necessitated a move south to Marine Corps Base Quantico in 1982, where MCM headquarters still remain today.

Over the years the MCM has evolved into a premier running event while remaining true to its roots. Today, 30 full-time staff members and over 2,000 Marines, Sailors and civilian volunteers work to ensure the MCM mission is carried out as its founders intended. Some additions to race weekend over the years include the MCM10K, starting at the National Mall and finishing at the Iwo Jima monument; the Healthy Kids Fun Run a one-mile race held one day prior to the MCM; and the MCM Forward, where Marines stationed throughout the world participate in a satellite 26.2 mile run simultaneously with the MCM. The MCM and all associated events continue to promote physical fitness, generate community goodwill and showcase the organizational skills of the United States Marine Corps.[2][3]

MCM Event Weekend[edit]

MCM10K In 2006 the Marine Corps Marathon introduced the MCM10K, a 6.2-mile run starting at the National Mall in Washington, DC. The MCM10K and MCM begin simultaneously with MCM10K runners joining the final leg of the marathon course to share in the iconic finish up the hill to the Marine Corps War Memorial. Since its inception the MCM10K has steadily increased in popularity. In 2011, the race field sold out with 10,000 registered runners.

In 2011 a new MCM10K course record was set by Reuben Mwei, a native of Kenya residing in Acworth, GA. His finishing time of 00:30:37 crushed the previous record of 00:32:54 set by Wyatt Boyd of Washington, DC in 2009.

The 2012 MCM10K will take place on October 28.[4][5]

MCM Finish Festival: Runners celebrate their MCM and MCM10K finishes in the post-race Finish Festival located in Rosslyn, VA. Runners, spectators and the community are welcome to enjoy food, including a Restaurant Row that includes several Rosslyn eateries, live music, sponsor displays, entertainment and giveaways.

Essential runner services are also located in the Finish Festival, to include Family Link Up, Info/Medical Tent, Massages, UPS Baggage Pick Up and the Michelob Ultra Beer Garden. Transportation from the Finish Festival includes shuttles to Crystal City, Metro access at the Rosslyn station and taxi service.[6]

Healthy Kids Fun Run: The Healthy Kids Fun Run is a one-mile run held annually the day before the MCM. Children ages 5 through 12 are eligible to participate in the fun run located in the Pentagon North Parking Lot. Once children have completed their run they can visit Camp Miles, a festival area with healthy activities and games promoting physical fitness.

School groups participating in the Healthy Kids Fun Run compete for a Healthy School Award. This award is based on student participation and is awarded to the top five schools with the most runners. Winning schools receive a donation to their physical education department presented at an all-school assembly with U.S. Marines, MCM staff members, Miles the mascot, healthy snacks provided by MCM partner Sodexo and a program presented by the National Children's Museum.

The 2012 Healthy Kids Fun Run will take place on October 27.[7][8]

MCM Health & Fitness Expo: All registered MCM, MCM10K and Healthy Kids Fun Run registered runners must attend race packet pick up at the MCM Health and Fitness Expo. Held in the two days prior to the MCM, the Health and Fitness Expo features more than 200 booths and interactive displays for runners’ enjoyment. Supported by nearly 300 military and civilian volunteers, the expo attracts nearly 100,000 runners and guests.

The 2012 MCM Health and Fitness Expo will be held from Thursday October 25 through Saturday October 27 at the D.C. Armory.[9]

Carbo Dining In: Held annually on the eve of the Marine Corps Marathon, the Carbo Dining In serves up last minute inspiration and excitement and carbohydrate fuel for the following morning for runners. Held at the race headquarters hotel, the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, the dinner welcomes world class speakers and Marine Corps - style entertainment.

The unique name - Carbo Dining In - separates it from other pasta parties and carb loads by paying homage to a traditional military dining in, an evening that includes dinner and other events to foster camaraderie and esprit de corps.

The evening program offers music, live entertainment and a featured speaker. Previous motivational addresses have been provided by Robert Swan, OBE, Dave McGillivary, Kathrine Switzer, Larry Rawson, Deena Kastor and Roger Robinson. Add in appearances by Miles and Molly, the MCM bulldog mascots, amazing prize giveaways and the camaraderie of fellow runners, and this becomes the perfect way to prepare for the "The People's Marathon."

The 2012 Carbo Dining In will be held on October 27.[10]

MCM First Timers Pep Rally: Introduced in 2010, the MCM First Timers Pep Rally is open to all first-time marathon runners. The evening offers the chance for novices to receive last-minute information and inspiration from an expert panel of runners, coaches, Clif Pace Team leaders, Brooks consultants and MCM staff members, among others.

The evening also celebrates the achievements of the new marathoners with music, cheerleaders, activities and prize giveaways. Runners are also presented the coveted MCM First-Timer pin.

The 2012 First Timers Pep Rally will be held on October 26.[11]

Past winners[edit]

Key:       Course record

EditionYearMen's winnerTime (h:m:s)Women's winnerTime (h:m:s)
1st1976 Ken Moore (USA)2:24:14 Susan Mallery (USA)2:56:33
2nd1977 Kevin McDonald (USA)2:19:36 Susan Mallery (USA)2:54:04
3rd1978 Scott Eden (USA)2:18:08 Jane Killion (USA)3:01:34
4th1979 Phil Camp (USA)2:19:35 Joanna Martin (USA)2:58:14
5th1980 Michael Hurd (GBR)2:16:55 Jan Yerkes (USA)2:39:53
6th1981 Dean Matthews (USA)2:16:31 Cynthia Lorenzoni (USA)2:50:33
7th1982 Jeffrey Smith (USA)2:21:29 Cynthia Lorenzoni (USA)2:44:51
8th1983 Farley Simon (USA)2:17:46 Susan Carden (USA)2:45:55
9th1984 Brad Ingram (USA)2:19:40 Pamela Briscoe (USA)2:43:20
10th1985 Thomas Bernard (USA)2:19:16 Natalie Updegrove (USA)2:44:42
11th1986 Brad Ingram (USA)2:23:13 Kathy Champagne (USA)2:42:59
12th1987 Jeff Scuffins (USA)2:14:01 Mary Robertson (USA)2:44:36
13th1988 James Hage (USA)2:21:59 Lori Lawson (USA)2:51:26
14th1989 James Hage (USA)2:20:23 Laura deWald (USA)2:45:16
15th1990 Matthew Waight (USA)2:21:32 Olga Markova (RUS)2:37:00
16th1991 Carlos Rivas Salas (MEX)2:17:54 Amy Kattwinkel (USA)2:44:27
17th1992 Rene Guerrero (MEX)2:24:09 Judy Mercon (USA)2:47:58
18th1993 Dominique Bariod (FRA)2:23:56 Holly Ebert (USA)2:48:41
19th1994 Graciano Gonzalez (MEX)2:22:51 Susan Molloy (USA)2:39:34
20th1995 Darrell General (USA)2:16:34 Claudia Kasen (USA)2:49:21
21st1996 Isaac García (MEX)2:15:09 Emma Cabrera (MEX)2:48:34
22nd1997 Darrell General (USA)2:18:20 Donna Moore (USA)2:53:42
23rd1998 Weldon Johnson (USA)2:25:31 Kimberly Markland (USA)2:49:07
24th1999 Mark Croasdale (GBR)2:23:27 Donna Moore (USA)2:51:53
25th2000 Richard Cochrane (USA)2:25:50 Elizabeth Ruel (CAN)2:47:52
26th2001 Farley Simon (USA)2:28:28 Lori Stich (USA)2:48:13
27th2002 Christopher Juarez (USA)2:25:01 Elizabeth Scanlon (USA)2:57:27
28th2003 Peter Sherry (USA)2:25:07 Heather Hanscom (USA)2:37:59
29th2004 Retta Feyissa (ETH)2:25:35 May Kate Bailey (USA)2:48:31
30th2005 Ruben Garcia Gomez (MEX)2:22:18 Susannah Kvasnicka (USA)2:47:10
31st2006 Ruben Garcia Gomez (MEX)2:21:21 Laura Thompson (USA)3:00:23
32nd2007 Tamerat Alemayehu (ETH)2:22:20 Kristen Henehan (USA)2:51:14
33rd2008 Andrew Dumm (USA)2:22:44 Cate Fenster (USA)2:48:55
34th2009 John Mentzer (USA)2:21:47 Muliye Lemma Gurma (ETH)2:49:48
35th2010 Jacob Bradosky (USA)2:23:30 Janet Cherobon (KEN)2:39:19
36th2011 Charles Ware (USA)2:19:16 Tezeta Dengersa (TUR)2:45:28
37th2012 Augustus Maiyo (USA)2:20:20 Hirut Beyene Guangul (ETH)2:42:03
38th2013 Girma Bedada Elala (ETH)2:21:32 Kelly Calway (USA)2:42:16

= Short course

Famous Finishers[13][edit]

2011Drew Carey, actor4:37:11
2011John "Cakes" Auville, Radio Host - Sports Junkies3:34:54
2009JP Flaim, Radio Host - Sports Junkies3:39:37
2008Adrian Fenty, Mayor (DC)3:37:20
2007Shannon Schambeau, Miss DC 20054:54:16
2006Harvey Walden IV, Celebrity Fit Club, VH15:01:00
2005Mike Huckabee, former governor (AR) and Fox News host4:37:29
2003Jon Porter, U.S. Representative (NV)5:40:37
2001Richie McDonald, country singer4:35:20
1998Lt. Cmdr. Andy Baldwin, USN, M.D. and "The Bachelor" in 20073:20:28
1997Al Gore, Vice President4:54:25
1994Oprah Winfrey, TV host4:29:15
1983John Edwards, former U.S. Senator (NC), and VP candidate3:30:18
1980Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice3:11:00

Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon[edit]

The Marine Corps Historic Half (MCHH), held in Fredericksburg, VA, celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2012 by taking runners on a 13.1 mile journey from the retail hub of Central Park through historic downtown streets, up hospital hill and back to awaiting Marines at the MCHH finish line. Held annually in May and open to ages 10 and up, the MCHH boasts a race field of 8,000 runners. The MCHH also offers a two-person relay open to 300 teams and the Semper Fred 5K, a 3.2-mile course with a race field of 1,500 runners.

The Healthy Lifestyle Expo will be held in conjunction with the Marine Corps Historic Half during the days prior to the race. Located at the Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center, this free event is open to the public and will showcase health, fitness, food and exercise through featured vendors such as Mary Washington Hospital, Geico, and Jelly Belly Sport Beans. Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center is located at 2371 Carl D. Silver Parkway, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.[14]

MCM Event Series[edit]

Held aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, the 2012 MCM Event Series features four races and celebrates the accomplishment of distance running by wrapping each event in a unique experience that showcases the organizational excellence of the United States Marine Corps.

March 17 - The first of the event series races, the Irish Sprint 10K, will offer runners the unique opportunity to secure a golden ticket, which is a guaranteed spot in the 2012 MCM. The Irish Sprint began as an intense San Francisco-based competition between the Coast Guard and the Marine Corps in 1981. In 2010, the event moved to Marine Corps Base Quantico and was opened to public participation.

June 16 – Consistently sold out, the Run Amuck and Kids Run Amuck encourage runners to get down and dirty. Adults run a 3.5 mile course through trails with mud pits, low crawls and various obstacles culminating in a fire hose dousing just before the race finish. Kids get in on the fun on their own course complete with obstacles and their own kid-size mud pit.

August 25 – NEW EVENT! Men and women will have the opportunity to compete for bragging rights at the Gender Defender 5K, a race pitting pink vs. blue. The competition includes a couples category as well as two separate finish line celebrations - for the male participants, the finish line man cave, and for the female participants, the finish line boutique.

November 17 – The final race in the MCM Event Series is the Turkey Trot 10K and accompanying Turkey Trot Kids Mile. The 6.2-mile adult course offers a great way to counteract Thanksgiving calories and kids enjoy getting in on the holiday fun with their own one-mile course.[15]

MCM Facts and Trivia[edit]

Start Marathons and other road races are traditionally started with a pistol. The Marine Corps Marathon boasts a slightly bigger starting gun: A 105mm Howitzer.

Ground Pounders Only four individuals have completed every marathon since the inaugural running in 1976: Mel Williams of Virginia Beach, VA; Al Richmond of Arlington, VA; Matt Jaffe of Rockville, MD; and Will Brown of Raleigh, NC. At the 25th running of the MCM, this elite group was given the name "Ground Pounders" at a ceremony at the Washington Post.[3]

Sold Out! The 15th running of the MCM was the first to sell out with a field of 13,000 runners. In 2011 the MCM sold out within 28 hours of registration opening, filling the 30,000 runner capacity.[3] For the 2012 MCM, all 30,000 registration sold out within 2 hours 41 minutes.[16]

Oprah TV personality Oprah Winfrey ran the 1994 MCM to celebrate her 40th birthday. She finished with a time of 4:29:15. Since that time the mantra "Beat Oprah!" has carried many MCM runners to a sub-4:30 finish.

Challenge Cup A race-within-a-race, the Challenge Cup was initiated at the MCM in 1978. The Challenge Cup is a competition between the United States Marine Corps and the British Royal Navy/Marine running teams. An 1897 Victorian silver cup, donated by the British in 1978, is awarded to the winner each year. A female division was added in 1998. The finish time for the top three runners for each team are added and the lowest total running time is declared the winner. The USMC claimed the Challenge Cup victory for both male and female divisions at the 2011 MCM[3] with the British taking the cup in 2012 for a total of 23 wins for the Royal Navy and 12 for the USMC since the race started in 1978 [17]

MCM Mascots Miles the Bulldog and his sister Molly are faithful MCM companions, cheering on and entertaining runners at all MCM events. Miles models bib number 1775 to honor the year the USMC was founded, while Molly proudly displays bib number 1943, a nod to the year in which the Marine Corps Women's Reserve was created. In 2011, Miles added "10K Finisher" to his resume when he impressively completed all 6.2 miles of the MCM10K.

USMC Runners The first female active duty Marine MCM winner was 1st Lieutenant Joanna Martin at the 1979 MCM. 1st Lt Martin, native of Woodbridge, VA and stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA at the time, finished with a time of 2:58:14. Four years later, the first male active duty Marine won the MCM. Sergeant Farley Simon of Alea, Hawaii finished with a time of 2:17:46.

2001 Marine Corps Marathon The status of the 2001 MCM was in serious question until three weeks prior to the scheduled race day. Post-9/11, approval by the Commandant of the Marine Corps to proceed with the marathon was contingent upon a new security plan. With approval in place, mile five on the MCM course gave runners an up-close view of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Many 2001 MCM finishers agree this was a very special race.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]