Marine Corps Marathon
The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) is an annual marathon
The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres , that is usually run as a road race...

 held in Arlington, Virginia and Washington, DC. The mission of the MCM is to promote physical fitness, generate community goodwill and showcase the organizational skills of the United States Marine Corps.

The MCM was established in 1976 and is currently the fifth largest marathon in the United States and the ninth largest in the world. The race field of 30,000 is composed of runners from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and more than 50 countries. The MCM is known as "The People's Marathon" because it is open to all runners ages 14 and above and is the largest marathon not to offer prize money.

The race typically occurs on the final Sunday in October, a few weeks before the United States Marine Corps birthday on November 10. The running of the 37th Marine Corps Marathon will take place on October 28, 2012.


The course, which varies slightly from year to year, is certified by USA Track and Field
USA Track and Field
USA Track & Field is the United States national governing body for the sports of track and field, cross country running, road running and racewalking...

. The current route starts in Arlington, VA on Route 110 and winds its way through Rosslyn along Lee Highway before turning on Spout Run and the George Washington Parkway. Runners experience a climb on Lee Highway in the first few miles of the course, but are rewarded with a descent along Spout Run and the Parkway.

After crossing Key Bridge into Georgetown, runners turn toward the Palisades Community when the course follows Canal Road, up to the reservoir and down MacArthur Boulevard. The course guides runners down popular M Street in Georgetown.

Runners turn on Wisconsin Avenue and then K Street. The course passes the Kennedy Center and guides runners to the back of the Lincoln Memorial before continuing on Ohio Drive into Hains Point at the halfway point.

Outside Potomac Park, runners get a glimpse of the Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin. On Independence Avenue, competitors run by the newly-unveiled Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial and FDR Memorial. The runners loop back along Independence Avenue on the side closest to the National Mall and the Korean and WWII Memorials before making a left turn onto 15th Street at the National Monument.

At Madison Drive, runners pass through the MCM "Gauntlet" and down the north side of the National Mall, running by the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History and the National Gallery of Art. After a loop around the reflecting pool in front of the U.S. Capitol, runners continue down the south side of the National Mall past the Smithsonian Castle. Runners move along Jefferson Drive and turn onto the 14th Street to "Beat the Bridge" at Mile 20 before returning to Virginia.

For the last 10K runners enjoy the color and energy of Crystal City. At the Pentagon, runners pass in close proximity to the Pentagon Memorial honoring the victims of 9/11. Finally, the course unfurls alongside the Arlington National Cemetery then offers a final, up-hill challenge to the finish at the Marine Corps War Memorial. This finish has remain unchanged since the inaugural running of the MCM in 1976.


On October 17, 1975 MCM founder Colonel Jim Fowler wrote a memo to his supervisor, General Michael Ryan, outlining his idea of creating a Marine Corps Reserve Marathon to promote goodwill between the military and the community post-Vietnam. Colonel Fowler believed a race like this would showcase the Marine Corps, serve as a recruiting tool and give local Marines the opportunity to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

General Ryan embraced the idea of a Marine marathon and submitted it to then-Marine Corps Commandant General Louis Wilson for approval. With General Wilson’s blessing, the planning process for the first MCM began. With news of the inaugural marathon quickly spreading, Gunnery Sergeant Alex Breckenridge, a member of the 1960 Olympic Marathon Team, soon lent his support. With Gunnery Sergeant Breckenridge acting as ambassador for the marathon effort, local jurisdictions approved of the event.
Through the efforts of the marathon coordinators and with support from Secretary of the Navy, William J. Middendorf, the inaugural running of the MCM was held on November 7, 1976. The 1,175 participants ran a course through northern Virginia and finished at the Marine Corps War Memorial, becoming the first of thousands of MCM runners over a span of 36 years to take the final hill and finish at the Iwo Jima monument. Kenneth Moore of Eugene, OR finished with a time of 2:21:14 becoming the first MCM winner. He was awarded a trophy provided by Secretary Middendorf for his achievement.

Marathon organizers reexamined the course for the 1977 MCM and secured permits to run through Washington, D.C. The route planned then laid the foundation for the scenic course in place today starting in Arlington, VA, winding its way around key landmarks in the nation’s capital and returning for the traditional finish at the Marine Corps War Memorial. With the changes to the course and a surge of positive publicity from the first running, the second MCM drew a field of 2,655 runners.

Participation in the MCM steadily increased over the next few years, resulting in a transfer of race coordinating from the Marine Corps Reserve to active duty Marines at Marine Barracks 8th and I. Shortly thereafter, even more growth necessitated a move south to Marine Corps Base Quantico in 1982, where MCM headquarters still remain today.

Over the years the MCM has evolved into a premier running event while remaining true to its roots. Today, 30 full-time staff members and over 2,000 Marines, Sailors and civilian volunteers work to ensure the MCM mission is carried out as its founders intended. Some additions to race weekend over the years include the MCM10K, starting at the National Mall and finishing at the Iwo Jima monument; the Healthy Kids Fun Run a one-mile race held one day prior to the MCM; and the MCM Forward, where Marines stationed throughout the world participate in a satellite 26.2 mile run simultaneously with the MCM. The MCM and all associated events continue to promote physical fitness, generate community goodwill and showcase the organizational skills of the United States Marine Corps.

MCM Event Weekend


In 2006 the Marine Corps Marathon introduced the MCM10K, a 6.2-mile run starting at the National Mall in Washington, DC. The MCM10K and MCM begin simultaneously with MCM10K runners joining the final leg of the marathon course to share in the iconic finish up the hill to the Marine Corps War Memorial. Since its inception the MCM10K has steadily increased in popularity. In 2011, the race field sold out with 10,000 registered runners.

In 2011 a new MCM10K course record was set by Reuben Mwei, a native of Kenya residing in Acworth, GA. His finishing time of 00:30:37 crushed the previous record of 00:32:54 set by Wyatt Boyd of Washington, DC in 2009.

The 2012 MCM10K will take place on October 28.

MCM Finish Festival

Runners celebrate their MCM and MCM10K finishes in the post-race Finish Festival located in Rosslyn, VA. Runners, spectators and the community are welcome to enjoy food, including a Restaurant Row that includes several Rosslyn eateries, live music, sponsor displays, entertainment and giveaways.

Essential runner services are also located in the Finish Festival, to include Family Link Up, Info/Medical Tent, Massages, UPS Baggage Pick Up and the Michelob Ultra Beer Garden. Transportation from the Finish Festival includes shuttles to Crystal City, Metro access at the Rosslyn station and taxi service.
Healthy Kids Fun Run
The Healthy Kids Fun Run is a one-mile run held annually the day before the MCM. Children ages 5 through 12 are eligible to participate in the fun run located in the Pentagon North Parking Lot. Once children have completed their run they can visit Camp Miles, a festival area with healthy activities and games promoting physical fitness.

School groups participating in the Healthy Kids Fun Run compete for a Healthy School Award. This award is based on student participation and is awarded to the top five schools with the most runners. Winning schools receive a donation to their physical education department presented at an all-school assembly with U.S. Marines, MCM staff members, Miles the mascot, healthy snacks provided by MCM partner Sodexo and a program presented by the National Children's Museum.

The 2012 Healthy Kids Fun Run will take place on October 27.

MCM Health & Fitness Expo

All registered MCM, MCM10K and Healthy Kids Fun Run registered runners must attend race packet pick up at the MCM Health and Fitness Expo. Held in the two days prior to the MCM, the Health and Fitness Expo features more than 200 booths and interactive displays for runners’ enjoyment. Supported by nearly 300 military and civilian volunteers, the expo attracts nearly 100,000 runners and guests.

The 2012 MCM Health and Fitness Expo will be held from Thursday October 25 through Saturday October 27 at the D.C. Armory.

Carbo Dining In

Held annually on the eve of the Marine Corps Marathon, the Carbo Dining In serves up last minute inspiration and excitement and carbohydrate fuel for the following morning for runners. Held at the race headquarters hotel, the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, the dinner welcomes world class speakers and Marine Corps - style entertainment.

The unique name - Carbo Dining In - separates it from other pasta parties and carb loads by paying homage to a traditional military dining in, an evening that includes dinner and other events to foster camaraderie and esprit de corps.

The evening program offers music, live entertainment and a featured speaker. Previous motivational addresses have been provided by Robert Swan, OBE, Dave McGillivary, Kathrine Switzer, Larry Rawson, Deena Kastor and Roger Robinson. Add in appearances by Miles and Molly, the MCM bulldog mascots, amazing prize giveaways and the camaraderie of fellow runners, and this becomes the perfect way to prepare for the "The People's Marathon."

The 2012 Carbo Dining In will be held on October 27.
MCM First Timers Pep Rally

Introduced in 2010, the MCM First Timers Pep Rally is open to all first-time marathon runners. The evening offers the chance for novices to receive last-minute information and inspiration from an expert panel of runners, coaches, Clif Pace Team leaders, Brooks consultants and MCM staff members, among others.

The evening also celebrates the achievements of the new marathoners with music, cheerleaders, activities and prize giveaways. Runners are also presented the coveted MCM First-Timer pin.

The 2012 First Timers Pep Rally will be held on October 26.

Recent Winners

Year Athlete Time
2011 Charles Ware 2:19:16
2010 Jacob Bradosky 2:23:30
2009 John Mentzer 2:21:47
2008 Andrew Dumm 2:22:44
2007 Tamrat Ayalew 2:22:18
2006 Ruben Garcia 2:21:21
2005 Ruben Garcia 2:22:18
2011 Tezata Dengersa 2:45:28
2010 Janet Cherobon 2:42:38
2009 Muliye Gurme 2:49:48
2008 Cate Fenster 2:48:55
2007 Kristen Henehan 2:51:09
2006 Laura Thompson 3:00:23
2005 Susannah Kvasnicka 2:47:10

Famous Finishers

2011: Drew Carey, actor 4:37:11

2008: Adrian Fenty, Mayor (DC) 3:37:20

2007: Shannon Schambeau, Miss DC 2005 4:54:16

2006: Harvey Walden IV, Celebrity Fit Club, VH1 5:01:00

2005: Mike Huckabee, former governor (AR) and Fox News host 4:37:29

2003: Jon Porter, U.S. Representative (NV) 5:40:37

2001: Richie McDonald, country singer 4:35:20

1998: Lt. Cmdr. Andy Baldwin, USN, M.D. and "The Bachelor" in 2007 3:20:28

1997: Al Gore, former Vice President 4:54:25

1994: Oprah Winfrey, TV host 4:29:15

1983: John Edwards, former U.S. Senator (NC), and VP candidate 3:30:18

1980: Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice 3:11:00

Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon

The Marine Corps Historic Half (MCHH), held in Fredericksburg, VA, celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2012 by taking runners on a 13.1 mile journey from the retail hub of Central Park through historic downtown streets, up hospital hill and back to awaiting Marines at the MCHH finish line. Held annually in May and open to ages 10 and up, the MCHH boasts a race field of 8,000 runners. The MCHH also offers a two-person relay open to 300 teams and the Semper Fred 5K, a 3.2-mile course with a race field of 1,500 runners.
The Healthy Lifestyle Expo will be held in conjunction with the Marine Corps Historic Half during the days prior to the race. Located at the Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center, this free event is open to the public and will showcase health, fitness, food and exercise through featured vendors such as Mary Washington Hospital, Geico, and Jelly Belly Sport Beans. Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center is located at 2371 Carl D. Silver Parkway, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.

MCM Event Series

Held aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, the 2012 MCM Event Series features four races and celebrates the accomplishment of distance running by wrapping each event in a unique experience that showcases the organizational excellence of the United States Marine Corps.
March 17 - The first of the event series races, the Irish Sprint 10K, will offer runners the unique opportunity to secure a golden ticket, which is a guaranteed spot in the 2012 MCM. The Irish Sprint began as an intense San Francisco-based competition between the Coast Guard and the Marine Corps in 1981. In 2010, the event moved to Marine Corps Base Quantico and was opened to public participation.
June 16 – Consistently sold out, the Run Amuck and Kids Run Amuck encourage runners to get down and dirty. Adults run a 3.5 mile course through trails with mud pits, low crawls and various obstacles culminating in a fire hose dousing just before the race finish. Kids get in on the fun on their own course complete with obstacles and their own kid-size mud pit.
August 25 – NEW EVENT! Men and women will have the opportunity to compete for bragging rights at the Gender Defender 5K, a race pitting pink vs. blue. The competition includes a couples category as well as two separate finish line celebrations - for the male participants, the finish line man cave, and for the female participants, the finish line boutique.
November 17 – The final race in the MCM Event Series is the Turkey Trot 10K and accompanying Turkey Trot Kids Mile. The 6.2-mile adult course offers a great way to counteract Thanksgiving calories and kids enjoy getting in on the holiday fun with their own one-mile course.

MCM Facts and Trivia

Start Marathons and other road races are traditionally started with a pistol. The Marine Corps Marathon boasts a slightly bigger starting gun: A 105mm Howitzer.
Ground Pounders Only four individuals have completed every marathon since the inaugural running in 1976: Mel Williams of Virginia Beach, VA; Al Richmond of Arlington, VA; Matt Jaffee of Rockville, MD; and Will Brown of Raleigh, NC. At the 25th running of the MCM, this elite group was given the name "Ground Pounders" at a ceremony at the Washington Post.
Sold Out! The 15th running of the MCM was the first to sell out with a field of 13,000 runners. In 2011 the MCM sold out within 28 hours of registration opening, filling the 30,000 runner capacity.
Oprah TV personality Oprah Winfrey ran the 1994 MCM to celebrate her 40th birthday. She finished with a time of 4:29:15. Since that time the mantra "Beat Oprah!" has carried many MCM runners to a sub-4:30 finish.
Challenge Cup A race-within-a-race, the Challenge Cup was initiated at the MCM in 1978. The Challenge Cup is a competition between the United States Marine Corps and the British Royal Navy/Marine running teams. An 1897 Victorian silver cup, donated by the British in 1978, is awarded to the winner each year. A female division was added in 1998. The finish time for the top three runners for each team are added and the lowest total running time is declared the winner. The USMC claimed the Challenge Cup victory for both male and female divisions at the 2011 MCM.
MCM Mascots Miles the Bulldog and his sister Molly are faithful MCM companions, cheering on and entertaining runners at all MCM events. Miles models bib number 1775 to honor the year the USMC was founded, while Molly proudly displays bib number 1943, a nod to the year in which the Marine Corps Women's Reserve was created. In 2011, Miles added "10K Finisher" to his resume when he impressively completed all 6.2 miles of the MCM10K.
USMC Runners The first female active duty Marine MCM winner was 1st Lieutenant Joanna Martin at the 1979 MCM. 1st Lt Martin, native of Woodbridge, VA and stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA at the time, finished with a time of 2:58:14. Four years later, the first male active duty Marine won the MCM. Sargeant Farley Simon of Alea, Hawaii finished with a time of 2:17:46.
2001 Marine Corps Marathon The status of the 2001 MCM was in serious question until three weeks prior to the scheduled race day. Post-9/11, approval by the Commandant of the Marine Corps to proceed with the marathon was contingent upon a new security plan. With approval in place, mile five on the MCM course gave runners an up-close view of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Many 2001 MCM finishers agree this was a very special race.

Further reading

  • Banker, George. The Marine Corps Marathon: A Running Tradition. Oxford: Meyer & Meyer Sport (UK) Ltd., 2008. Print.

External links

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