Marine Corps Marathon – The Start

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….

2014 Marine Corps Marathon

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.

2014 Marine Corps Marathon

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!

2014 Marine Corps Marathon

The whole crew survived the day.

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).

2014 Marine Corps Marathon

See the line of metal detectors in the distance?

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.

2014 Marine Corps Marathon

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.

2014 Marine Corps Marathon

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.

2014 Marine Corps Marathon

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?

2014 Marine Corps Marathon

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.

2014 Marine Corps Marathon

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.

14 Comments

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  1. I am an over-planner, and pre-race logistics make me antsy. I prefer to just do it all on my own rather than have my family there. They usually come later and meet up with me at the finish.

    I think it’s so cool that the guys were able to bike to meeting spots along the way! Great way to have support on the course!
    Alison recently posted…Training for Tuesdays: A monthly link upMy Profile

    1. I usually part ways with my family before the start of a race, too, so that I can just go it on my own. It was hectic enough getting to the start of MCM. I would have been even more stressed if I had been with Barry and my Dad, because I would have been worried about getting separated.

  2. That’s great that your dad worked it out that they’d see you 6 times. I know that my husband has worked hard to see me fewer times than that along the course. Looking forward to the race recap and wondering what happened with your shoe!
    Tina@GottaRunNow recently posted…22 Mile Run: 3 Things to Try When Training for 26.2 or MoreMy Profile

    1. It was awesome to see them so many times along the course! That, along with driving the course the day before, helped me break up the race into manageable chunks. Spectators definitely have their work cut out for them if they want to see their runner more than once!

  3. That is cool to see parachuters coming down! I have never had an exciting opening to a race. Can’t wait to hear about the rest!
    Amy recently posted…Weekend HighlightsMy Profile

    1. It was the most grand pre-race ceremony I’ve ever seen. I was already really exited, but even more so after seeing them parachuting down to the ground.

  4. Ack, you’re leaving me hanging! I can’t wait to read about the race tomorrow. It’s so fun to read about the MCM since I’ve run so many times. I felt like I was right there with you, and I could visualize every step you took us through. We always parked at East Falls Church and took the Metro in, though.

    I love that Roger had a plan for all of his and Barry’s stops, and you knew where to look for them. It doesn’t surprise me though, after having him drive us around for two days. 🙂
    Debbie @ Deb Runs recently posted…Trail Running To Our Favorite Summit, Molly’s KnobMy Profile

    1. Sorry, sorry! At least I split it up in such a way that the whole race will be all in one post 🙂 Much better than a cliff hanger at mile 13 or something! I bet it is a lot of fun to read someone else’s race recap for a race that you know so well.

  5. Awaiting part 2….

    LUD.

    1. I think that’s the part most people actually care about 🙂 But this part will be useful to future runners looking for information before their first MCM!

  6. I love that your dad had it all planned out! 🙂 So awesome they came out to be your crew!!! That’s awesome you got to use some VIP porta potties – those Brooks clothes were totally worth it then 🙂 Off to read part 2!
    Becky recently posted…Thanksgiving Week PlansMy Profile

    1. He’s awesome with stuff like that! It really helped me having them out there supporting me and cheering me on 🙂

  7. It really was a marathon to get to the start. I’m impressed that they put everyone through the metal detectors; I feel like that would take forever!
    Brooke @ wreckingroutine recently posted…If We Were At Happy Hour…My Profile

    1. It was! I didn’t mind it so much, because I knew what to expect and knew to plan accordingly. It took a long time to get through the metal detectors. For awhile I had no idea why we were coming to a bottleneck and stopping. I’m so short, I couldn’t see what was ahead. So I used my camera to take a picture above everyone’s heads (the one in this post) and then I zoomed in on the screen so I could see what was going on!

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