By Kellie Cowan
If you're reading this, you're likely one of the 30,000 runners who will take to the streets of Arlington and the District on Sunday, October 30 for the 36th Marine Corps Marathon. As CSNwashington.com's resident MCM veteran I'm here to give you the skinny on what to expect on race day in my two-part MCM preview.
MCM veterans may notice that this year's start line will be located slightly closer to the Pentagon, which places the first mile marker directly in the heart of Rosslyn. If you're new to the race, be prepared for a slow start after the gun. After making your way down Route 110, you'll hang a right onto North Lynn Street, avoiding the daunting Wilson Boulevard hill looming ahead. You won't be skirting an incline entirely though. After the turn before the Key Bridge you'll begin to ascend its slightly less-steep cousin along Lee Highway where the course rises about 150 feet in elevation from the first mile marker to just beyond the second. As you put the largest hill of the 26.2-mile course behind you, you'll find the first water station. I'm not here to tell anyone how to run their race, but chances are most runners won't need water after just two miles. If you happen to be one of those, avoid the slowdowns on the sides of the streets and stick to the middle of the road --the second water station lies just two miles ahead. From this point you'll enjoy a little better than a mile-and-a-half of down hill running along the tree-lined Spout Run and George Washington Parkways.
Just before approaching the Key Bridge you'll hit the Mile-4 marker and be greeted by the cheers of thousands of spectators as you cross into DC. From here, the course opens up a bit and you should be able to begin settling into your target pace as the crowd of runners begins to separate a bit. After crossing the bridge, the course takes a turn away from the Georgetown crowds and heads into the woods along Canal Road before looping back to MacArthur Boulevard between Miles 6 and 7. The turn will also bring you through the Palisades neighborhood as you climb the second largest, but thankfully last significant, hill of the course on MacArthur Boulevard. On the downward slope back to Georgetown, you'll reach Mile-8 just before hopping on M Street to make your way through picturesque Georgetown and the first big pop of spectators.
Nine miles in the course turns out of Georgetown and onto Rock Creek Parkway, where you'll begin to follow the Potomac River for the next three miles. Prepare for a bit of a slowdown here as you approach the first food station: oranges! Grab an orange slice or two and glide along the waterfront while notching Mile 10 after the Kennedy Center and Mile 11 at the Lincoln Memorial. You'll continue along the Potomac on Ohio Drive to head out to Hains Point, a somewhat lonely and sparsely spectator-lined place. Given the lonely island feel, you may want want to ask your biggest fans to make their way to the Point for a little added motivation.
Or simply find your own motivation in hitting the halfway point. Your call.
Either way, there will be a band, a Clif Shots station and, thankfully, a water station to follow. Keep it up -you're half way there.
Part Two: Miles 14-26.2