October 21, 2014

Marine Corps Marathon Course: 11 Tips From Someone Who Has Been There

Without a doubt the Marine Corps Marathon has been one of my all-time favorite races.  Sure it was my first marathon so it has that going for it but I truly believe there's something really special about this race.  I'm really excited for Mom to experience it this weekend and I have a feeling she (and all of you) will love it!  I remember being a sponge for course information at this time last year and wanted to soak in every major moment so I figured I would share some insights from my experience on the course last year!

The Starting Line: No corrals here folks, you self-seed.  There will be large banners with estimated finish time so you can properly line up.  It's a zoo but it's truly organized, trust me on this one.  And it took us about 10-12 minutes to get across the starting line after the Howitzer was fired.

Roslyn (miles 1-3): This is where the big hills are, people.  Let them help you reign in your speed.  Roslyn will be packed with tons of spectators which is fun and I remember seeing some great signs last year.

Georgetown (miles 4.5-5.5): I remember some hills in here and lots of spectators.  What I actually remember most is that the road was really wet from a water station.  That's random, I know!

Rock Creek Parkway (miles 6-9.5): This part of the course was very crowded, but also very scenic.  You're running on a tree-lined road and there's little else to see except for runners on all sides of you.  Turn off your music and soak in the sounds of the thumping feet.  And be cautious of the hand cyclists.  Because of the hills in here, they definitely had challenges navigating the major crowds.

Kennedy Center (mile 10.5): We passed the Kennedy Center last year right after the orange slices stop and I remember this point well.  I anticipated seeing a friend spectating here, but she turned out to be elsewhere on the course.  There's great spectators in here.

Haines Point (miles 11-15): People warned me that this could be a tough area of the course.  If it's windy, you're likely to feel it because you're more exposed.  I really loved this section for a few reasons.  The Mile to Remember (mile 12) is incredible.  Do yourself (and your fellow Americans) a favor and turn off your music.  Take in the photos of the fallen service men and women.  Take in the line of American flags.  It's really moving. 

The Monuments and the Mall (miles 16-19): This was the most awesome section of the course for me.  I loved seeing the heart of DC and I also had some wonderful spectators on the mall.  The spectators are wall-to-wall on the course through this section so enjoy it.  You may laugh but you will need that crowd energy as you turn to head over the bridge.  Speaking of the bridge...


The 14th Street Bridge (mile 20): This may feel like the longest mile of the race.  The bridge can break you.  It is quiet.  There are no spectators and you have a 10k to go.  I tried to take in the views of Crystal City and stay upbeat.  When you come off the ramp off the bridge, don't look right....the finish line is that direction and it's too soon to start daydreaming about the finish. 

Crystal City (miles 22-24): You will get another small taste of hills through here.  Despite the crowds here, I found this section of the course to be very quiet.  In fact, I threw my hands in the air at one point and yelled at the crowd to cheer for us!  The best part of Crystal City is the munchkin station as you head back toward the Pentagon.  I wasn't feeling this last year but I know tons of people loved this aid station!

The Pentagon (mile 24.5): You'll exit Crystal City under the 395 overpass an run toward the Pentagon.  I remember this stretch from last year.  Feeling so close that I could almost taste the finish line Gatorade.  There's a great DJ set up in front of the Pentagon and a fabulous Marine who told us 1.2 miles to go when we got back on the onramp to the finish.

The finish (mile 26.2...duh!): I was warned about the final hill up to the finish line.  In my head, it was Everest and in reality, it wasn't that bad.  The crowds approaching the finish were INSANE and they were encroaching on the road quite a bit so be prepared for it to feel a bit narrow all of a sudden. 


If you're running the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend, I wish you the best day on earth!  This was one of the best days of my life and I hope it lives up to (my) hype!

Interested in reading more?  Here are a few of my posts from last year.
2013 Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap
My Top 5 Marine Corps Marathon Moments
Marine Corps Marathon by the Numbers
My Taper Plan

Are you running Marine Corps?  Getting excited??
{Christine}

11 comments:

  1. Awww, this just made me so nostalgic for last year - I had SUCH a great time running this race with you!

    Oddly I vividly remember the wet ground in Georgetown too, and the monuments and mall area was by far my favorite!

    You forgot the best tip - KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THE ONE AND ONLY BART YASSO TOWARDS THE FINISH FOR AN EPIC HIGH FIVE! : )

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    1. I KNOW! I've been feeling so nostalgic about this race. Thinking about it made me really wish I was running it this year again with you!

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  2. Ee. I'm running and it's my first marathon! I'm really scared and excited and nervous and I think it's going to be okay.

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    1. You will love this race, Jenn! The weather looks awesome! You've trained hard, enjoy this as your victory lap. :)

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  3. This is such a great breakdown of the course. Even though I'm not running MCM, its so funny to read it and know which parts of other DC areas cover the same ground. Can't wait to cheer Pam on this weekend!

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    1. Thanks Kathryn! Cheer loudly for my mama, I know she will be kicking butt out there! :)

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  4. Great breakdown of the miles. So much more than just seeing the map and not really know what to expect. I am getting really excited about the weekend :) -L

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    1. You will love this race! I hope you have a fabulous time! :)

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  5. I'm running this as my first specifically because of your amazing post on it last year! I would NEVER have decided to run a full if you hadn't been so great with your feelings about this event. and i am sooooooo ready for it!!! I can't wait to experience all you did and hopefully get a good finish time too!!!

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    1. Aww that makes me so happy! Enjoy every minute on the course...it sounds crazy but I didn't want it to end. Have a FABULOUS race!! :)

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  6. So excited for you!!! Favorite race EVER!

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