Sunday, October 31, 2010
Marine Corps Marathon 2007
The Marine Corps Marathon Expo was huge. This was the biggest marathon event I'd been at to this point, so I was pretty impressed. Still am impressed, by the way; the organization of this marathon is a testament to the hard work of the countless marines who get involved, and obviously to the skill and commitment of the organizers as well.
Loved some of the little touches at the expo such as the Marine Corps motorcycle pictured above. The Marine Corps Marathon is called "The People's Marathon" and, like a marine, it lives up to the billing. The flyovers of some of the coolest planes in the world at the beginning was worth the price of admission alone. Things like a welcome note from the president of the United States in the participant literature, the wandering Abe Lincoln at the expo, put a stamp on this event. The hills in this one aren't ridiculous, but they do keep the top elite types out of the race, so this emphasizes that it's about the rest of us and about giving it the old boot camp effort. Even the drill sergeant near the end (just before a crazy steep hill that leads up to the finish line) was encouraging, demanding, and, shockingly, smiling.
The Marine Corps Marathon is one of the big ones, and it was the biggest I had run to date at that time. So I was (and still am) impressed by the crowd of runners that never thinned out, and by the unending statues and monuments that I'd only seen on TV or in movies before. The spectators were awesome, but I have to admit I was paying more attention to the monuments. It was an absolutely perfect day, sunny, not too warm, a soft autumn feel to the air.
Two things were not so great about the race. After crossing the finish line, we had to stop for quite a while (over 10 minutes, not sure of the exact time) in a standing crowd bottlenecked to go through food lines. There was no alternative route around, either. I had to sit down or keep moving, and there was nowhere to sit and nowhere to go.
The other negative was the wait for shuttle buses at the end. We waited, no exaggeration, for over 2 hours. Although we had fun chatting to the guy who runs Cooperstown (he ran the marathon as well), we'd have much rather been back at our room.
There was enough Marine involvement to put a clear brand to the event, but at all times everyone was made to feel welcome. I think for me that was the key; all of those huge hulking Marines smiling and totally committed to making sure questions were answered, directions given, water stations run seamlessly. Can't emphasize enough how important that is to the feel of a race, the sense that everyone involved is enthusiastic.
Pictures with a full dress Marine and bulldog at the Iwo Jima memorial at the end was a pretty cool idea that the organizers set up. .
We spent the week following the marathon touring around the Mall, visiting pretty much every museum, the legislature, etc. Touring the Smithsonian was one of the best vacations for me ever. That alone made the trip worthwhile. If the marathon itself totally sucked, it would still have been an enormously satisfying trip. I think everyone should visit this king of all museums; modern Western civilization is all here, endlessly fascinating.
Would I run this one again? Hell yes. I will one day, guaranteed.