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Marine Corps Marathon lottery — with rush option — opens next week

March 13, 2019, 4:47 PM

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If you’re planning on running this year’s Marine Corps Marathon, you may already be pretty quick on your feet. But if you want to guarantee a spot among the crowded field of runners, it will also help to be quick on a keyboard.

For the second year in a row, organizers of the Marine Corps Marathon are offering runners the chance to sign up for rush registration online one day before the regular lottery for runners opens.

The rush registration is available on the MCM website starting at noon on Tuesday, March 19. But be warned: The rush period will only be open for 20 minutes, or until 7,000 runners have registered — whichever happens first.

The rush process allows runners to “forgo the uncertainty of the lottery and obtain a spot immediately,” organizers say on the MCM website.

The regular lottery opens the following day — Wednesday, March 20 — and stays open until March 26. Runners will be notified via email on March 27 if they made it through the lottery. Overall, the event fields about 30,000 runners.

There are no fees to sign up for the online lottery, but if you’re selected, race registration fees are $180.

Last year, about 8,000 runners signed up for rush registration; it was the first time in five years organizers had offered the rush option.

The Marine Corps Marathon will be held Oct. 27.

For the second year in a row, organizers of the Marine Corps Marathon are offering runners the chance to sign up for rush registration online one day before the…

Everything You Need to Know About the Marine Corps Marathon

Held in Washington D.C. and organized by members of the Marine Corps, this race takes runners past some of the country’s most iconic landmarks.

Iron your running shorts and make sure those shoelaces are neatly tied—you’ll want to pass muster if you’re one of the participants toeing the starting line at the 44th Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) on October 27.

Every year, the iconic event in Washington, D.C., draws around 30,000 participants, including active duty soldiers and veterans, seasoned and newbie marathoners, and celebrities—even Oprah, who completed the race in 1994. The scenic race, dubbed the “People’s Marathon,” has earned a thumbs-up from both runners and spectators, who have plenty of places to cheer along the course.

Here’s everything you need to know about race, including a brief history of the event, field size, race day weather, past winners, course details, and registration info.

How the Marine Corps Marathon Began

In October of 1975, Col. Jim Fowler of the USMC dreamed up a running race that could hit a few birds with one stone: a way to recruit new Marines; promote the reputation of military members; and provide Marines a way to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Fowler explained his idea to Gen. Michael Ryan, and the two men worked together to make the race a reality. On November 7, 1976, the first Marine Corps Reserve Marathon took place in D.C. with a total of 1,018 finishers (994 male and 24 female).

In the years that followed, the marathon course was altered to pass by more D.C. landmarks, and in 1978, the event’s name was changed to its current title, Marine Corps Marathon. For a more intensive dive into the history of the race, visit the MCM website here.

Past Winners and Prize Money

The MCM is unique among large marathons because it doesn’t give out any prize money. Instead of cash, the top runners at MCM are rewarded with a celebratory ceremony. Similar to other races, all MCM finishers earn medals, and additional awards are given out for overall masters, overall seniors, wheelchair and handcycle divisions.

In the event’s history, there have been several back-to-back winners in both the men’s and women’s fields. These consecutive winners include Susan Mallery (1976 and 1977), Cynthia Lorenzoni (1981 and 1982), Jim Hage (1988 and 1989), and Ruben Garcia Gomez (2005 and 2006). The current men’s record stands at 2:14:01, which was set by Jeff Scuffins in 1987. The women’s course record of 2:37:00, set by Olga Markova in 1990, still exists today.

While the MCM course is more challenging than other flat and fast races, such as Chicago, the reason course records and past results are slower here is likely because elites are opting for races with more competition and better paycheck opportunities. Thus, the winners of the People’s Marathon are often hard-working everyday runners, rather than pros.

Listed below are the past 10 male and female winners of the Marine Corps Marathon. To see the full list of winners, visit the race website.

Men’s Open Division

(winners from 2008-2018)

  • 2018: Jeffrey Stein (Washington, D.C.) 2:22:49
  • 2017: Desto Beriso Morkama (Arlington, Virginia) 2:25:14
  • 2016: Samuel Kosgei (Junction City, Kansas) 2:23:53
  • 2015: Trevor Lafontaine (Cornwall, New York) 2:24:25
  • 2014: Samuel Kosgei (Junction City, Kansas) 2:22:12
  • 2013: Girma Bedada (Columbia, Georgia) 2:21:21
  • 2012: Augustus Maiyo (Colorado Springs, Colorado) 2:20:20
  • 2011: Charles Ware (Wheeling, Illinois) 2:19:16
  • 2010: J. Bradosky (Centerville, Ohio) 2:23:30
  • 2009: John Mentzer (Kittery, Maine) 2:21:47
  • 2008: Andrew Dumm (Arlington, Virginia) 2:22:44

Women’s Open Division

(winners from 2008-2018)

  • 2018: Jenny Mendez (Costa Rica) 2:40:19
  • 2017: Sarah Bishop (Fairfax, Virginia) 2:45:07
  • 2016: Perry Shoemaker (Vienna, Virginia) 2:51:48
  • 2015: Jenny Suanca (Costa Rica) 2:45:56
  • 2014: Meghan Curran (Moorestown, New Jersey) 2:51:48
  • 2013: Kelly Calway (Manitou Springs, Colorado) 2:42:15
  • 2012: Hirut Guanqul (Ellicott City, Maryland) 2:42:03
  • 2011: Tezata Dengersa (Ellicott City, Maryland) 2:45:28
  • 2010: Janet Cherobon (Rome, Georgia) 2:39:19
  • 2009: Muliye Gurmu (Ethiopia) 2:49:48
  • 2008: Cate Fenster (Wooster, Ohio) 2:48:55

Field Size and Weather

Demand to get into the Marine Corps Marathon is high, attracting runners from all over the nation and over 60 countries, but the field is limited to 30,000 participants. Weather conditions in D.C. are usually ideal at this time of year, with crisp temperatures often hovering around the upper 40s at the start and rising to the upper 50s by the end of the race.

How to Register

While a qualifying time is not necessary to enter MCM, all runners are required to maintain at least a 14-minute per mile pace in order to make the cutoff times at three points along the course. The marathon starts at 7:55 a.m. and remains open until 3 p.m.

Throughout March, there are a number of opportunities for hopeful runners to try to snag a bib for the MCM. The first registration window opens in the first week of March, but it’s reserved for active duty members of the military only. Midway through the month, the MCM opens around 7,000 “rush registration” spots, which are up for grabs for all runners on a first come, first served basis (head’s up: these spots usually fill up in less than 20 minutes, so be sure to set an alarm on your phone for the date and time registration opens).

Runners who miss rush registration can enter through the MCM lottery, which opens in the last week of March. By the end of the month, lucky lottery entrants are selected and notified.

Additional options beyond these registration avenues include raising funds for charity, competing with Runners Club, and transferring a bib to another runner. Additionally, runners who race the Marine Corps 17.75K (which took place this year on March 23) are automatically guaranteed a spot in MCM.

What to Expect on the Course

The awe-inspiring MCM course starts and finishes in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potamac River from D.C. proper. It loops throughout the capital, allowing athletes to view various memorials, museums, and Capitol Hill during their 26.2-mile tour of the city.

Save for steep uphills at the beginning and end, the route is generally flat—which is good, since the finishing cutoff time is stricter than other races. The course begins between the Pentagon and the Arlington National Cemetery, then travels on Route 110 toward the first time-cutoff point, “The Gauntlet” (located at Independence Avenue and 15th Street), which runners must reach by 12:33 p.m. Next, runners hustle to the 14th Street bridge in Mile 20 by 1:15 p.m., then a little while later, they must pass through the second Gauntlet (located in Crystal City at 12th Street South and Long Bridge Drive) by 1:49 pm. Runners who fail to make the checkpoints in time are pulled from the course.

If you’re racing, don’t fret too much about the time limits; you’ll likely be so boosted by the gorgeous scenery, musical performances, and spirited spectators that you’ll breeze by them. Here are a few key historic landmarks to look forward to:

  • the Jefferson Memorial
  • the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial
  • the FDR Memorial
  • the Washington Monument.

At the finish, you’ll make a final climb to the iconic Marine Corps War Memorial—a fitting end to the challenging yet inspirational test of endurance.

Get a detailed, mile-by-mile breakdown of the Marine Corps Marathon course here.

How to Train for MCM

Considering the overall flatness of this sea-level course, runners are better off focusing less on hill training and more on building speed and endurance in order to reach each checkpoint before the cutoff time. As with any marathon, begin your training plan a minimum of several months before race day to allow plenty of time for ramping up mileage. Mix things up with tempo runs, intervals, and long runs, and be sure to take rest days as needed to allow your body to recover.

Held in Washington D.C. and organized by members of the Marine Corps, this race takes runners past some of the country’s most iconic landmarks. ]]>