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According to Running USA’s 2014 annual report, there were a record number of marathon finishers—550,637. There were more marathons contested in the US than any other year—1,200+. Running is alive and well in the US of A! With a plethora of races to choose from, picking the best one for you can feel like finding a needle in a haystack.
If you haven’t run Marine Corps Marathon before, or are a first time marathoner, here’s why I think you should add this marathon to your bucket list!
- First Timer – According to the Marine Corps Marathon website, typically 1/3 of the racers are first timers. If you are running your first 26.2, you are among good company! They also host a First Timers Pep Rally the Friday before the race, which is a great place to find inspiration and meet other first time marathoners. Bonus: You get a first timers pin at the event.
- Monuments – If this is your first time heading to Northern Virginia & DC, the monuments are likely on your list of to-do-items for the weekend. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing them first thing in the morning with the sun rising over the Nations Capital. I have a very hard time running this race and not getting emotional, especially when running past memorials of those who have sacrificed their life for our freedom.
- White House – You don’t have to be a political geek to get excited about the White House. Just like running past the monuments, there is something amazing about running by the President’s house during a marathon.
- Two States – If you are of the 50 States + DC type of marathon crazy and not a purist (where each marathon only counts for one state), Marine Corps will cross off Virginia and DC from your list.
- Key Bridge – One of my favorite parts of this race is while running over Key Bridge. Look left, look right and soak in the amazing views on both sides. Depending on the weather on race day, the bridge could be a bit of a skating rink, covered in misty fog, or bright and sunny. Regardless of the conditions, it’s a moment in time to remember. The spectators are loud and numerous in this section of the race.
- Family Friendly – Hotels are plentiful, transportation isn’t difficult, and there are oodles of things to do with you family before and after the race. The course also lends itself to spectators being able to get to multiple places to cheer you on.
- Miles & Molly – Two of the cutest and friendliest race mascots around. If you have kids, they are sure to love these two!
- Marines – The volunteers at this race are second to none. They are Marines after all! When you finish they are there waiting to put a medal around your neck and say congrats ma’am/sir. Be sure to thank them for their service!
- Running Club – Run this race 5 or more times and you can join the Runner’s Club. This will give you guaranteed entry into the race in any future years, letting you bypass the lottery system.
- Nations Capitol – It’s DC baby! People from all over the country and world head to Washington DC every single year to take in the sights, learn the history and pay their respects. You get to run through the city, which in my opinion is one of the most special ways to experience it.
Running the Marine Corps Marathon is choice you won’t regret. It was my first marathon back in 2003 and has remained a very special race to me. I’ve run the 10K twice, which is a great option if you are the family member of someone running the marathon, or if you aren’t ready to tackle the marathon distance yet. This year I’ll be heading back to run the marathon for the 9th time and speaking at the First Timers Pep Rally. If you are there and running your first 26.2, please come say hi!