Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Few, The Proud, The Marine Corps Marathon

Another major marathon rocked the nation's capital this morning--the Marine Corps Marathon celebrated its 34th running with a field of roughly 21,000 toeing the line, pretty good for a race that capped participation at 30,000 runners. I'm too focused on running Chicago earlier in October to take part in this east coast classic, but it's definitely on the radar screen.

My college friends have a knack for moving east, especially Washington, D.C., leaving me to learn more about the area and its events in hopes of participating when I visit. First it was my roommate, who after one year post-graduation decided it was time to go to grad school and packed up and moved to the capital. And for some reason I've always remembered two things she told me about the relocation: how there are a lot of Northwestern alums and that the D.C. running scene seemed so much different from the Chicago one. And this is before she became a runner, but even she picked up on the trend that left only a few road races able to run the streets of the capital city (although the Washington Running Report makes me think times have changed a little) and of those, it was nearly impossible to gain entry if you hesitated because registration closed as quickly as it opened. And D.C. folks can correct me if I'm wrong, but the Cherry Blossom 10 in the spring, and the fall's Army 10-Miler and Marine Corps Marathon fill in a heartbeat. But when race-day comes, that's thousands of enthusiastic runners, many of whom are local because they've learned these sign-up secrets, trekking the D.C. streets and reveling in a capital city tour.

That certainly held true this morning at the 34th running of the Marine Corps Marathon, a 26.2-miler that's gained recognition among the ranks of New York, Chicago and Boston as a must-do race. And for those that battled the heat and humidity during those summer long runs, they finally had a chance to show what their bodies are made of with much more desirable race-day temps in the high 50s and low 60s. Forget heat-altered performances like a Runner's World article explored this summer--talk about making a runner slogging through elevated temperatures at Chicago in '07 and '08, and Grandma's Marathon '09 feel better about a slow performance. The wind behaved itself on race day with gusts not pushing levels that Marine Corps Marathon runners have faced in the past--I remember a friend running the 2006 race and was going great until the final miles where she felt like she was running through a wind wall. I've been there on my bike this summer and wouldn't want to repeat it on my feet.

Anyway...for this year's classic, Andrew Dumm was trying to defend his 2008 title, where he crossed first in 2:22:44--in his first marathon nonetheless. But it was another first-timer who took home the victory in 2009. John Mentzer, a Navy lieutenant commander, crossed first in 2:21:47, just edging out Air Force Capt. Jacob Johnson. That's one cool part about races in the Washington D.C. area--both Marine Corps and the Army 10-Miler fill with speedy service men and women. For the women, Cate Fenster, who was also running her first marathon, won the 2008 race in 2:48:55 but was not toeing the line to defend. With the female field wide open, Muliye Gurme of Ethiopia won in 2:49:48, capturing the lead over Air Force Capt. Jayme Marty in the final two kilometers. Check out more about how the top finishers fare at the Washington Times.

As for what else happened as the 26.2 miles went down...I'll be adding to this report as I learn more, and check on the progress of how some Team in Training athletes did. Tune in for more, but in the meantime, check out the race-day results and news at Semper Fi! Photo of winner John Mentzer grabbed from the Washington Times. Posted by Kate


  1. Man, interesting window into the world of marathons. Both my brothers run them, and triathalons too, but I've never paid too much attention. Thanks for reporting these fascinating races!

  2. I ran this race and it was awesome - just one thing - it was a field of 30,000 with over 20,000 finishers :) Huge race with a great course, great spectators and on-course support! I'd definitely do this one again!

  3. Hey Kel,

    Thanks so much for the correction on the number of people! I thought MCM was larger than what I wrote too but for some reason I read something about the field cap (maybe it was for the MCM half and I confused it) at that smaller number and was like 'ok, if you say so.' I rework that with the new numbers :)

    Glad to hear you liked the race! How'd you feel out there? Congrats on the accomplishment! I hope to run MCM one of these days.

    --kate :)

  4. Hi Extreme Fitness,

    You're welcome and thanks so much for reading :)


  5. Sorry folks, it was the MCM 10K that has the smaller cap of 7,500 runners. We'll fix those numbers asap :)


  6. It was a great race! I'd recommend it if you like running in the larger races - which I definitely do. As a middle-of-the-pack runner, I like to be surrounded by other runners. The course was scenic for 90% of the course, there were tons of spectators cheering for most of the course and the on-course support for water stations, food, aid stations was great too! Lots of Marines out there inspiring the runners. Loved getting the medal at the end with the Marines placing it around my neck! Overall, a great race and experience. I am sure I'll do this race again in the future!

    - Kelly

  7. Hi Kelly,

    MCM does sound like a great race. I love it when you get spectators along most of the route--for me, it helps the miles go by faster. Any chance you might like to write a guest post about your experience for Fit-Ink? Email me if you do :)

    kate or



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