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Marine Corps Marathon Reviews


4.6 Stars from 49 Runners





  Iconic race but not perfect

By about 2017


Review

There are only 12 water stations. On a cool, cloudy day this would probably be OK, but the last 2 years have been warm (highs in mid 70s to 80s). There are 2 stretches where you won't have access to water for almost 3 miles.

The DC portions of the race are packed with spectators, but other parts may be pretty desolate. The 14th St. bridge is a particularly difficult section, mentally and physically - no access to water, no spectators and no cover from the sun.

Marines do a terrific job pumping you up, manning aid stations, and finish line duties. The race start is really cool too.


Race Tips

If it's going to be warm, bring your own container to refill at water stations if you want to hydrate every mile. Make sure to know where the longest waterless segments are so you can get extra before going into them. There were people handing out ice in Crystal City, but if you can get a family member to get you ice before that (especially before 14th st. bridge) that helps a lot. Most of the first half of the course is covered from the sun but most of the back half is not.

The climb on Lee Hwy is pretty tough, but it gets easier after that


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

We stayed in Rosslyn at Key Bridge Marriott and it was a relatively easy walk to the starting line and even shorter walk back from the finish line. Make sure to get there at least 30 minutes before the start. The placement in corrals isn't enforced, so getting onto the course isn't difficult if you are standing outside the barricades.


4 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2017


Review

This is an extremely well-supported, beautiful course that makes you proud to live in this country. I grew up in MD and thought that I knew D.C. Now I feel sad that I took so much for granted as a child.


Race Tips

Start off slower than you think, the hills at the beginning are deceptive and more damaging than you think.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Leave an hour earlier than other races because of the crowds. Pick any Arlington hotel and take the Metro. Easy Peasy to the start and finish.


5 / 5 Stars


  See all the DC sites while running

By about 2016


Review

I liked the location of the race. You get to experience Washington DC and see all the sites while running


Race Tips

The first couple of miles start with a hill so conserve your energy and run smart.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

If you are out of town its best that you find a hotel near the race which is Arlington Va.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

If you only do one marathon, this is a good choice. The course is well laid out, minor hills, mostly at the start. The 11th mile seeing fallen soldiers is emotional yet motivating. Crowd support is great. Lots of free goodies at the end. Water stations and portalets are ample.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Use public transportation! I stayed in Crystal City which made getting around by metro easy and affordable.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

This course starts with a climb for the first 3 miles and then a few downhills so be conservative with your energy. The first 18 miles of this course are great with plenty of sightseeing along the way. Once you get to the bridge there is no crowd support and it feels like the bridge will never end. The crowd support picks back up in Crystal City for a few miles. It was very hot this year and towards the end of the race the water stations were running out of cups and water. Once you get to the bridge there are no water stops for a couple of miles so if it's going to be hot you might want to carry water with you. The finishers village is a joke. Once you finish they try to push you out before you can even get a picture or wait for other runners to finish. They provide very little food wise and it's nothing you would want to eat for that matter.


Race Tips

The morning of arrive at the bus stop early as there are a ton of people in line and it takes a bit to load the passengers and drive to the runners village.


3 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

Great runner support by Marines, great beautiful inspiring course, great expo, great organization


Race Tips

Stay in Arlington hotel

Spend a few days after the race


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Fly into Reagan and stay in Arlington


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

Very well run race. A lot of crowd support. Plenty of aid stations.


Race Tips

Start slower the first couple miles because of the hills.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

I stayed in Alexandria at the Hilton Mark Center. It was a great hotel and a quick Uber ride to the start.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

This is the BEST Marathon - in a class of it's own. Best for 1st timers, best on course support with the Marines, Navy and many many volunteers!


Race Tips

Do this one, you will never look back


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

listen to the MCM Staff, they will guide you to a successful race day.


4 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

Wonderful shirts, bibs and medals! Great race to run, very organized!!


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

By far the best supported and well cheered on course (for all 26.2 miles I might add) I have ever run. The aid stations were constant, the cheer stations were more constant and the entire community supported this event. Its well organized and a wonderful course to boot! My favorite marathon and I highly recommend - especially for anyone doing a first time marathon.


Race Tips

Stay local and use the shuttles to the start and from the finish. The are prompt and there are a lot of them that are less than half a mile from the start and finish lines and from your hotel in most cases.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Book your hotel through the website - you get a great discount and late checkout!


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

Lots of support from the marines plus spectator, the beauty of DC.


Race Tips

The last 4-5 miles are not pretty, no spectator so be prepared...and there is no shade so if its hot, it will be brutal.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

Very well organized. Need to start later so that we can take metrorail.


Race Tips

Need to start in front. Too many people blocking,


0 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

Very well attended and supported. Awesome medal.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

Loved this marathon! Great energy, nice course, fantastic support!


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

The experience is incredible. The course great until the end. Crazy amount of turns and switch backs in the last 4 miles.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

After shuttle situation was a nightmare!! Luckily I was staying with local family that was able to pick me up.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

This is an experience race, and not a PR race in my opinion. It was incredible. Enjoy the monuments, and say thank you to as many marines as you can. It was a very hot day this year, so that was not expected, but all other things made this my most memorable race to date.


Race Tips

The course was quite crowded throughout, so try to adequately seed yourself with your pace at the start. Otherwise you will find yourself frustrated if you have to do a lot of weaving to pass people or being the subject of other runners' frustration. Enjoy this race. It is an experience.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

If you aren't from the area and aren't familiar with the metro system, familiarize yourself before hand as it can be a bit confusing to navigate with "marathon brain" and a few beers under your belt after the race. I also found it helpful to have a metro card with funds prior to the race. It got me around the giant crowd trying to leave the station nearest to the finish line.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

Excellent location, amazing support, crowds are great, fantastic scenery.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

Pros: Great crowd support, very well organized, scenic course for the first 18 miles.

Cons: the course this year was altered slightly, and an additional mile put in around Pentagon City. This was all concrete, full of turns, no coverage from elements, and no spectators - all at mile 20-21, so a terrible spot in the marathon for those pieces. Having run three Marine Corps Marathons now, this change was not welcome or helpful to runners.


Race Tips

The first 2.5 miles are uphill - conserve energy. Enjoy the support from the crowds. Be sure to run your tangents - there are a number of turns and slightly-windy roads, and if you're not careful you will end up running a lot more than 26.2.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

Inspiring and powerful to run with the Marines. The Blue Mile will remind you to keep your fortitude as you continue, keep running, and push through the marathoner's simple issues. But the logistics of the Gaylord (where the Expo was located and where we stayed) were not so good. Adequate hotel at best. Cramped expo, making for crowds and waiting around.

Shuttles to race start were great, but getting back was a nightmare. FOUR times during the race we had to turn around a cone! This messes with pace and is hard on the body. It's cool to run by the monuments, but you'll see DC better on your own run when you visit as a tourist instead of an athlete. To make up the distance from the course change they have you running in a huge exposed parking lot (ugly too) and on cobbles in a cramped Crystal City shopping area (and those darn cone turn arounds).

The Finisher's Festival was a joke, more like a death march. I had to mingle around the Iwo Jima monument finishing area pretending to be busy while I waited for other runner friends to finish so we could get our picture together there. They won't let you sit down. No bag, no food, nothing, because once you leave the finish area you are stuck in the "Festival" where you are exposed and bored. The recovery "food" they gave you was nothing a runner would want to put in their body, especially during that important recovery window. It reminded me of a "Lunchable." Forget about waiting to buy finishers gear the line is long and there isn't much available. One you finally make it to the end to get your bag of dry clothes, you are so far away from where ever in the world they had the beer that you just leave in frustration. And then there is nowhere to change anyway. I wiped down and changed in the bay of a parking garage risking arrest for indecent exposure! It was super hot and humid this year, but it would be equally miserable if it were cold. Marines are great. The race, not so much.


Race Tips

If you are a faster runner it is neat that you will queue up pretty close to the start. Beware it is self-seeded corrals and has a lot of first time runners, but I didn't have pacing trouble with these factors and the energy of the first timers was great. Practice running hard up a short and steep hill at the end of all of your long runs. And the practice of holding back the first several miles is also key in this race.

If you have the luxury of having supporters that can be near the finish, have them hand you a protein recovery snack for after your finish!


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Arrive early to everything to avoid lines, not have gear sold out, etc. The Westin is the nicest hotel nearby the Gaylord. Most of the runner deals for hotels were not much better than what I found at the hotels themselves. The Carbo Load dinner before hand was really nice, sit down buffet, inspirational speakers and video. Sign up for that if you are staying at or near the Gaylord.

Traffic is horrendous in DC, as in all big cities, so plan your arrival and departure accordingly to miss peak times, or just give yourself lots of time.

One plus of the National Harbor area, where the Gaylord is situated is that there are lots of restaurants that appeal to runners. We made a reservation for Sunday night at one of them, but probably didn't need to have it. There is so much dining!


3 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

Many changes over the past few years due to the Boston Marathon events, weather (rain affecting metal detectors for runner screening) and Metro's unreliability. Despite this, the MCM is a highly organized event. Very worthwhile if you want to run in a big race. And there are 10,000 US Marines cheering you on the entire way.


Race Tips

A generally flat course with a few caveats. The first 3-4 miles are deceptively uphill, so starting out slow is key. The 14th street bridge is at mile 19-20, and is another slight uphill (feels worse than it is b/c it is mile 20). The finish line has a hill at the end - short but at mile 26, runners need a little extra energy to finish. The weather is always key - late October can be as cold as the 40's or as high as 80's. Getting to the start line early with layers of insulation is good advice.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

If the expo continues at Gaylord National, I would stay there for ease of travel (runners shuttles to the start line). Plan on arriving at the Pentagon security screening area around 6 AM. This ensures plenty of time for security, bag drop and getting to the start line.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

I wish someone had told me this was not a course to PR on. There are too many hairpin turns and it's too crowded to run the tangents. I'd recommend this Marathon for a first-timer because the course isn't too hilly and the support is great! The marines do a great job. It's really cool to run by the monuments. I just wish I had known not to hope for a PR! :)


Race Tips

The expo was at the Gaylord this year, and traffic getting in/out was a nightmare. Expect it to take a while.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

We stayed in Rosslyn. Perfect location for getting to the start and back after the finish.


3 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

Great crowd support and beautiful course.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

What a fantastic race. From the support of the Marines to the spectators, the absolutely touching memorial mile at 10-11, this race is unforgettable. The hills are tough - but just know that they are there!


Race Tips

Shuttles to the race are fantastic.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2015


Review

Loved the scenery, the preparation, the crowds. Nothing bad about it except for the wait to get through security before the race.


Race Tips

Get to the security checkpoints early!


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2015


4 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2015


Review

Crowd support was great.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Park near the start line and walk there. Do not rely on the Metro to get you there.


3 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2015


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2015


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2015


Review

I liked the organization and the beautiful scenery. We had great weather in 2015. I PR'd, improving from 4:26 to 4:02. The after-race party was absolutely fun because they kept pouring free beer for us. The support from the Marines was awesome.


Race Tips

Get there early and make sure you are in your corral. I got there late and had to weave people for about 10k


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

AirBnB and Uber... hands down.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2015


Race Tips

Be ready for some hills but the atmosphere of this race is one of my all time favorites.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2015


Review

Running a marathon in DC is fantastic. While you don't run among any of the actual monuments, you can see some of the from a distance while running. Water stations were done well, finisher shirt and medal best I've received.


Race Tips

Start slow as the biggest hills are from miles .5 to around 4.0. Bear right at the starting line and it eliminates one hill.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

The logistics are horrendous. I just ran the 40th anniversary race and it was like they had never done this before. 30 minute wait to get through security at the expo, 1 hour wait to buy any MCM merchandise and a 1.5 hour wait to enter the starting area. These folks need to get pointers on how tom handle a large event, clearly they don't have a clue. The finish line area was also a disjointed mess.


3 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2014


Review

Loved this marathon and would definitely run it again. Beautiful course, super well organized, the best scenery which makes the race go by fast and of course Marines handing you your medal at the end! Absolutely fantastic way to see DC is to run this marathon, it crosses back and forth between VA and DC


Race Tips

Wear sunscreen! It was unseasonably warm in 2014 when I ran it and there's a lot of open areas where there's no shad so I definitely got some sun that day.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Take the METRA and get off at Roslyn, not Pentagon on race day. Also plan ahead for security line at packet pickup and race day.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2014


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2014


Review

I love the extra burst of energy you feel as you run along the National Mall and see monuments and museums. Best photo ops of any marathon I've done! It's also a very moving/symbolic/personal race because of the Blue Mile, military remembers running with full gear and packs, and countless others wearing shirts honoring loved ones who have lost their lives serving our country.


Race Tips

Steepest downhill is at mile 4. Rock Creek park out and back is fun because you get to see other runners. Prepare to get a little emotional in the Blue Mile. Miles 16-20 are along the National Mall and that really perked me up! Great scenery! The 14th street bridge after mile 20 felt like the longest part. Few spectators, and it went forever. Mile 22 in Crystal City had a misting machine -- aah, unexpected treat! Save room for the donut holes (Munchkins) at mile 24, to get you through the last miles where you're running through the same section you ran through at the start.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Great crowd support and fun for spectators. This course doesn't require friends and family to do a half-marathon of their own to cheer for you. They can see you at multiple locations and the website even has a spectator guide.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2013


Review

Georgetown, the mall, many of the memorials, rock creek... to finish at the Iwo Jima. I have run 8 different beautiful marathons, with better times, but this is special, is the one to enjoy.


Race Tips

It is not an easy course and for that I was not thinking in a BQ. Probably because of that I started very conservative and finished strong (almost 5 minutes faster the second half). The aid stations are more than adequate.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

The organization is outstanding and when I run in 2013 it was very easy to get by metro to the start.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2013


Review

Loved the support from the public
Course was perfect- marked well
Had plenty of drink and bathroom areas
Supportive marines all along the course
Music everywhere
Finish area had nice vendors


Race Tips

Get there early to get your spot for your pace goal.

Barely any hills. No significant inclines.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2013


Review

I love this race (I have done 92 marathons) for the views and things to do in the city for days and days in our nations capital.


Race Tips

Don't go crazy for the first 2/3, because Haines Point will kick your butt.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Find a hotel close to a subway. I like the Key Bridge Marriott as it is a short walk from the finish line.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2013


Review

The ability to go sight seeing while running a marathon.


Race Tips

Enjoy the serenity out by Hains Point after the noise and congestion near the Capitol.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2013


Review

Amazing course. Very well organized and start to finish a great experience.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2013


Review

Awesome! Best marathon, hands down!


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2013


Review

Awesome! Best marathon, hands down!


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2013


Review

Amazing race. Spectators line the route almost the entire way. Beautiful course through our nation's capital... This year (2013) they didn't let you use backpacks because of the tragedy in Boston. I had planned on running with a Camelbak and the last minute notice of this policy change was upsetting.


Race Tips

It is a very crowded race. Make sure you get there early so you can join up with a pacing group. Don't get too antsy with the crowd. The first couple miles will be slow... Midway through the race (miles 10-14) are along a quiet stretch. Don't get caught up in the moment and push too fast [like I did] during these miles. Relax and enjoy the beauty of DC.

*Note: There are pacers for this race now!


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Arrive early. Book a hotel far in advanced. Use the metro: too many streets are blocked off/shut down the day of race.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2011


Review

Flat course a zillion spectators and loop through the park makes easy for family to see. Lovely scenery too.


Race Tips

Hope for cool weather. No shade!


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Take public transport in and out.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2010


Review

Great organization. Fun course through DC.


Race Tips

The bridge back to Virginia seems interminable: break it up into sections and promise to run hard through each.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Start on the road away from the river. It is less crowded and there is cover if you need to use the woods at the last minute.


5 / 5 Stars





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