MCM preview: Miles 1-13

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MCM preview: Miles 1-13

Want to know what to expect from the course of the 37th Marine Corps Marathon? CSNwashington.com's resident MCM veteran is here to give you the skinny on what to expect on race day in a two-part MCM preview.

Have a pair of old running shoes lying around?  Bring them with you to the Health and Fitness Expo at the DC Armory where you'll pick up your race day packet.  There you can donate your old shoes to local homeless shelters and receive a 5 dollar gift card from DSW in return.  The Expo will be held Thursday, October 25 from 4-8 p.m., Friday, October 26 from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday, October 27 from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. 

Grab your race bib in the pick-up tent across from the Armory then head inside to expo to claim your MCM long-sleave shirt and check out over 200 vendors.

The metro will open at 5 a.m. on race day and runners should use the Pentagon station to access the MCM starting line.  Race day parking is also available in Crystal City at 23rd Street and Crystal Drive with shuttle service that will bring you to the Runners Village.  Post-race shuttles and taxis will also be available at the Finish Festival, which is accessible from the Rosslyn Metro Station.  

This year's start line is located jut beyond the Pentagon, along Arlington National Cemetery.  Runners will head north down Route 110 and will pass the first mile marker directly in the heart of Rosslyn. Be prepared for a slow start after the gun --you might have a lengthy wait to reach the start but this will be subtracted from your official time. After passing that first mile marker (just 25.2 more to go!), you'll hang a right onto North Lynn Street, avoiding a very daunting Wilson Boulevard hill looming ahead. You won't be skirting an incline entirely though. Before reaching the Key Bridge you'll turn up Lee Highway and begin to ascend its slightly less-steep cousin where the course rises about 150 feet in elevation from the first mile marker to just beyond the second.

With the largest hill of your 26.2-mile journey behind you, you'll find the first water station. Now, 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 with me on that, avoid the slowdowns on the sides of the streets and stick to the middle of the road --the second water and gatorade station lies just two more miles ahead. From this point you'll enjoy a little better than a mile-and-a-half of down hill running along tree-lined Spout Run and George Washington Parkway.  You may still find yourself cutting around other runners but the course will open up a bit more after the Mile-4 marker when you reach the Key Bridge.

As you make your way up the slight incline to the bridge (and are blinded by the morning sun) you'll hear the roar of thousands of spectators waiting to greet you as you cross into DC. From here you should find a bit more separation from other runners and will be able to begin settling into your target pace. After crossing the bridge, the course takes a turn away from Georgetown 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. 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.

Just beyond nine miles in you'll come across the first food station: oranges!  Grab a few wedges to refuel before exiting Georgetown onto the Rock Creek Parkway, where you'll follow the Potomac River notching Mile 10 after the Kennedy Center and Mile 11 at the Lincoln Memorial, then continue along the Potomac on Ohio Drive to head out to Hains Point, a somewhat lonely and sparsely spectator-lined place.  The MCM crew seems to think of everything though: to counter the lack of traditional crowd noise you'll find several stages set up along the 3-mile loop featuring bands and dance groups -plenty of entertainment to keep you motivated out on the island.  

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

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Prospect report: Ilya Samsonov leads team to the KHL playoffs

Prospect report: Ilya Samsonov leads team to the KHL playoffs

Hershey update: 26-16-8-3, 5th in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 1-2-0-0

The Zach Sanford-Jakub Vrana competition for a spot on the Caps’ third line in place of the injured Andre Burakovsky was over before it even really began. Both Sanford and Vrana were recalled by the Caps after the bye week, but only Sanford got in the lineup and Vrana was sent back down to Hershey after Sunday's game against the New York Rangers.

Vrana seems to be struggling with staying mentally focused at times in Hershey which can happen when a player knows he is on the verge of making the NHL. Still, he needs to play well with the Bears for the Caps to have confidence in him for any future call-ups.

Tarik El-Bashir and I talk about the Sanford-Vrana competition and who we think has the higher ceiling in this week’s Capitals Faceoff Podcast. We also touch on Stanislav Galiev who had another impressive weekend with three goals. As well as he has played of late, I don’t foresee any recall upcoming for him. I believe the Caps are ready to move on after this season when Galiev’s contract expires.

Forward Travis Boyd was recalled by the Capitals on Tuesday, his first call-up to the NHL. Washington was in need of an extra forward for a road game in Philadelphia on Wednesday. The recall is a reward for his stellar work in Hershey this season. He did not play in Wednesday’s game and is not expected to crack the lineup while with the Caps.

After a rough stretch for Hershey in net, Vitek Vanecek appears to be settling in again. He came on in relief of Parker Milner on Friday and stopped all 18 shots he faced. He also earned a 33-save shutout in his start against Providence on Saturday, his fourth shutout of the season.

Unfortunately, Vanecek couldn’t finish the week on a high note as he gave up four goals on 28 shots on Saturday in a 5-1 loss to Bridgeport.

RELATED: Prediction recap: Caps win heated affair in Philly

Other prospect notes:

Connor Hobbs found himself in a bit of hot water on Saturday for a dangerous hit he delivered to Moose Jaw forward Brett Howden. Howden was already tied up with another player along the boards when Hobbs laid into him.

The highlights of the game offer a view of the hit, though it is very brief. You can watch it here.

Hobbs was assessed a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct.

Not surprisingly, there was a difference of opinion over the hit after the game.

“I don’t think he got him in the head at all,” Regina head coach John Paddock said.

Moose Jaw head coach Tim Hunter, however, said “That’s a predatory hit. That’s a major penalty. When a guy is being checked with no route to avoid another check and he’s vulnerable and someone takes liberties to try and run him over when he can’t get out of the way, that’s a predatory hit and a major penalty and a suspendable offence.”

Hobbs received a one-game suspension for the hit and missed Regina’s game on Monday. In the three games he did play in this week, Hobbs tallied one goal and three assists.

Goalie Ilya Samsonov finished off a brilliant season in the KHL with a 1-0 shootout win on Friday. He had 31 saves for the game.

Russian Machine Never Breaks does a thorough breakdown of the regular season finale. Check it out here.

Samsonov finished the season with a 15-3-5 record, a .936 save percentage and a 2.13 GAA, helping lead Metallurg Magnitogorsk to the top record in the eastern conference. Now it’s on to the playoffs where Metallurg will look to defend its championship from last season.

Samsonov helped the team get off on the right foot with a 4-2 Game 1 win against Kunlun Red Star. The young netminder turned aside 26 of the 28 shots he faced for the win. Game 2 will be played on Friday.

It was another impressive week for defenseman Chase Priskie in Quinnipiac as he tallied two assists on Saturday. Despite being a defenseman, Priskie leads the team in points this season with 25 (7 goals, 18 assists) in 30 games. He has been red hot over the second half of the season with 19 points in his last 14 games.

Priskie’s 19 power play points leads all defensemen in the ECAC. His seven goals, 18 assists and 25 points also all rank in the top four among the league’s defensemen.

MORE CAPITALS:  The Caps are hopeful Niskanen avoided serious injury

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Report: Ravens mulling cutting Dennis Pitta to create more cap space

Report: Ravens mulling cutting Dennis Pitta to create more cap space

A decision on whether to cut or keep Dennis Pitta is one of many issues facing the Ravens this offseason.

According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, the Ravens “may balk” at the $5.5 million salary Pitta is due next season. That makes sense, considering Pitta was just 28th in the NFL among tight ends in yards per catch (8.5) despite leading all tight ends with 86 catches. Pitta only had two touchdown catches, and there is concern he no longer has the speed to make explosive plays after two major hip surgeries.

Free agency begins March 9, but cutting Pitta with a June 1 designation would create the most cap space for the Ravens - $5.5 million.

However, if the Ravens release Pitta, they would turn the tight end position over to a question-filled group that includes:

Ben Watson – He is 36 years old, and missed all of the 2016 season with an Achilles injury. Cutting Watson and saving $3 million in cap space might make more sense than cutting Pitta. Especially if Pitta agrees to a pay reduction, as he did before last season.

Nick Boyle – He missed 10 games last season due to his second suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. Another suspension could lead to the end of Boyle’s career.

Crockett Gillmore – He must prove he can still healthy after missing seven games in 2016, and 15 games over the past two seasons.

Darren Waller – He was suspended four games in 2016 for his first PED violation, and he has caught just 12 passes in his first two seasons.

Maxx Williams – He is coming off major knee surgery.

Pitta remains a favorite target of quarterback Joe Flacco, and even if Pitta struggles to make splash plays, he is still a chain-mover as a possession receiver. You can make a case for cutting or keeping Pitta. The Ravens will soon make their verdict.

MORE RAVENS: Stanley and his adopted dog from BARCS to be on Animal Planet