Last year I did the Marine Corps Marathon. And I loved it for a variety of reasons, many of which are simply because it’s my hometown marathon. I loved sleeping in my own bed the night before, I loved eating all my familiar, regular foods the day before and heading to my favorite place for a post-run meal afterward, and I loved knowing pretty much every inch of the course. When it’s your hometown marathon and it’s a big deal, it feels like everyone is getting ready for your race.
My first fall in DC I headed out and watched the Marine Corps Marathon from the first runners to the very last and I enjoyed every last second from my corner on Virginia and Rock Creek Parkway. This year, I’m adding in a trip to the 14th Street Bridge, since I noticed it was a little dead when I ran last year.
And now, I’d like to bring you some tips for having an awesome time at the Marine Corps Marathon!
- Don’t take Metro home, wherever home is. Last year, by the time I finished the line to get into the Rosslyn metro station was at least a block long. Not kidding. You’re going to have to walk a bit further, but either head back toward the Pentagon (though I don’t think that line’ll be any shorter) or take the Circulator back into DC. There’s a stop about a block or 2 past the metro station and I didn’t have to wait on a line, just hopped right on and rode it back into DC. From there, you can change to the metro or maybe get a cab, but that line was insane in Rosslyn so at least attempt to plan an alternate means of getting out. (As a general disclaimer, if someone cheering for you has a fear of heights, tell them to take the elevator at the Rosslyn metro station. We have the longest, steepest escalator in the western hemisphere on the metro line. My mom was terrified of the Rosslyn one.)
- Get the plastic smartcard. Metro uses paper fare cards still because this is DC so we live like it’s still 1789, but not only is there a commemorative Marine Corps Marathon edition this year, it’s also something you can keep on you in a pocket and not worry about sweating through it. It’ll work when you’re done and it’s easier to use. You can only order the commemorative card but you can purchase generic cards at any CVS and in Metro stations.
- No Corrals. Fun fact: Marine Corps Marathon has no official corral system unlike a lot of other big races. You show up and place yourself according to the honor system so if you really want to be at the front get there early and remember both sides of the road are open (or at least they were last year).
- Hills bookend the course. It’s hilly in the beginning and hilly at the end, so enjoy the flatness of miles 10-21ish and prep your quads for some pain in the last 3 miles. Holy downhill, Batman, that hurt.
- Save the munchkin. There’s a little bit of a lag between the munchkin station and the next water station, so I’d strongly suggest holding on to that munchkin til you have some water to wash it down with.
Bonus tidbit: TO BEAT OPRAH YOU NEED TO RUN A 10:16 PACE OR FASTER to finish ahead of her 4:29:15 time! This is the marathon that Oprah ran, guys! I’m not entirely convinced she didn’t have Gayle carry her the whole way but you’ll hear a lot about Oprah’s time. And let’s face it, this is the only time you could ever possibly best Oprah at anything.
And remember: high fiving every single marine as you approach the finish line is not optional. It’s required.
Have fun out there, guys, and I look forward to cheering you bitches on at the bridge, as you’re giving it the beating it deserves.