When I sat down to write my recap of the 39th Marine Corps Marathon, it was with the goal of keeping it all in one post. I don’t like splitting race reports up into multiple posts. But by the time I got halfway through the race, the post was entirely too long. So I’m going to split up my recap into three parts: pre-race, race, and post-race. This ensures everything that happened between the start and finish line is all in one post. So today you get my journey to the start line. Tomorrow I’ll have a complete recap of the race itself from start to finish all in one post, and Friday I’ll recap everything that happened after I crossed the finish line. As you can imagine, there was a lot of this getting to the start….
On race morning I woke up a little after 4 AM and had my coffee and peanut butter pancake. I left the house with my Dad and Barry and we drove down to Crystal City and parked in a parking garage about an hour and a half before the start. I wore my throwaway clothes even though it wasn’t too chilly outside. I didn’t want to end up shivering since I knew it was going to be a long walk to the start.
From the garage, I walked about two blocks in Crystal City to catch the shuttle that would take me to the race start. Meanwhile my Dad and Barry headed off on their bikes to our first pre-arranged meeting spot. My Dad and I had driven the course the day before and picked out spectating spots. Dad had to do a lot of work in advance studying DC bike maps to make a plan for how he and Barry would get from one point to the next during the race. I got to see them six different times along the race course, which was awesome!
I had to stand in the first of many lines to catch the shuttle. It was a Disney World-esque line that serpentined in and out of a parking garage. The line moved well, but I probably waited close to 30 minutes to finally board a bus to the start line. While in line, I met a man who was from Ireland who had flown here to run the race. After the race he and his family planned to continue on their ‘holiday’ and were going to spend a week driving from the East Coast to California. Pretty neat!
Finally, I boarded a bus and was on my way to the start. But wait! Our bus got held up for 15 minutes on the way to the start. It was rumored that it went the wrong way, but I don’t know for sure. I do know that it was a long walk from where our bus dropped us off to the start line area with 55 minutes to go until the start of the race. I walked down a road and through security (metal detectors).
Once through security, I continued walking until I arrived at a large parking lot (the North Parking Lot at the Pentagon) where bag check and porta potties were located. I didn’t need to check a bag so I continued across the large parking lot, under an overpass, and finally onto route 110 where the race starts.
When I finally made it, my first stop was the VIP porta potties (remember, I bought too much stuff at the expo). Thankfully the line was not too long for these.
While waiting in line, I had a good view of the skydivers as they made a parachute jump from a plane to route 110. There were eleven skydivers, and one had a 7,800 square foot American flag. Immediately following the parachute jump, there was a flyover by two V-22 Osprey planes. Then I heard the Howitzer fire, signaling the start of the race, just as I made it to the front of the porta potty line.
From the porta potties, I headed for the start. I was still a fair distance from the start, and couldn’t even see the large arches for a few minutes. Why not pose for an official photographer along the way?
It was a long walk, but the starting arches kept getting closer and closer. The race starts on both side of route 110, which is divided by a median. The right side was very crowded, but luckily I was able to hop the median and guardrails, and walk up the left side of the road. This allowed me to bypass a large number of people.
Finally I got up there and without much fanfare, I took off and started running. I hate ending this here, but as you can see it was practically a marathon to get to the start line. Don’t worry, though, because tomorrow I’ve got all the dirty details from the actual race!
What’s the coolest pre-race ceremony you have seen? The parachute jump and flyover were so exciting!
Are you good at planning for race logistics? Things went pretty well the morning of MCM, but I probably could have done with a bit more time at the start. Lesson learned for next time.