Have a talent? Marine Corps Marathon seeks course performers

Participants of the 9th Annual Marine Corps Historic Half (MCHH) run the 13.1-mile route from the Fredericksburg Expo Center into historic downtown areas of Fredericksburg, Va., May 15, 2016. The MCHH attracts over 8,000 participants annually and now features the Marine Corps Semper 5ive. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by James H. Frank/Released)
Participants of the 9th Annual Marine Corps Historic Half run past the Marantha Touring Choir on May 15, 2016. The choir has performed at the race for the last 10 years. (Courtesy of the Marine Corps Historic Half)

Marantha Touring Choir that has performed at each Marine Corps Historic Half since the event began 10 years ago in 2008. About 10,000 runners will participate in the Marine Corps Historic Half and Semper 5ive runs that will fall on May 21, 2017, in Fredericksburg. (Courtesy Rodney Womack)
Marantha Touring Choir has performed at each Marine Corps Historic Half since the event began 10 years ago in 2008. About 10,000 runners will participate in the Marine Corps Historic Half and Semper 5ive runs that will fall on May 21, 2017, in Fredericksburg. (Courtesy Rodney Womack)

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Participants of the 9th Annual Marine Corps Historic Half (MCHH) run the 13.1-mile route from the Fredericksburg Expo Center into historic downtown areas of Fredericksburg, Va., May 15, 2016. The MCHH attracts over 8,000 participants annually and now features the Marine Corps Semper 5ive. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by James H. Frank/Released)
Marantha Touring Choir that has performed at each Marine Corps Historic Half since the event began 10 years ago in 2008. About 10,000 runners will participate in the Marine Corps Historic Half and Semper 5ive runs that will fall on May 21, 2017, in Fredericksburg. (Courtesy Rodney Womack)

WASHINGTON — Many entertainers dream of a chance to perform for a crowd of thousands. And it’s possible for the acts that volunteer for one of the many Marine Corps Marathon-affiliated events — the “fans” just happen to be running right past the talent.

Marine Corps Marathon-affiliated races are searching for talent to perform at its 2017 events. For more than 10 years, the running events have sought acts to perform before or after a race or along the course, said Tami Faram, PR coordinator for the Marine Corps Marathon.

“Runners really enjoy entertainment along the miles. Whether you’re running a 26.2-[mile] marathon or a 13.1-[mile] half marathon or even a 5K or a 10K, it’s a lot of fun to have that in the background and the atmosphere,” Faram said. “Certainly the competitive runner may not notice all the entertainers, but the average runner really enjoys that.”

Volunteers are sought year-round, but since a request for submissions was posted earlier this year, the Marine Corps Marathon has received applications from hundreds of interested performers, Faram said.

“We have everything from rock ‘n’ roll and bluegrass and country and every kind of music you can imagine … to touring choirs and high school bands and event performers. We’ve had gymnasts on the course tumbling and magicians and signs spinners,” Faram said.

Bruiser, a classic rock band with members from around Northern Virginia, is one of the acts that comes back for more year after year. The band has played for several Marine Corps Marathon events since 2008, and over the years has noticed some songs appeal more to runners, said John Morgan, one of the members of the band.

“We do a lot of Stones, a lot of Beatles … we do a lot of ZZ Top, we do Zepplin,” Morgan said. “We do one of [Billy Joel’s] songs and they really get a kick out of it. And then, of course, the one that everybody likes is the Stones like ‘Beast of Burden,’ ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together.’”

The “hits” are a little different for the Maranatha Touring Choir, which has performed at each Marine Corps Historic Half since the event began 10 years ago in 2008. The Fredericksburg-based, interdenominational children’s choir sings a lot of upbeat spirituals that help give runners an extra kick, said choir manager Rodney Womack.

“As people come through as we are singing and they are running, they are clapping and they are cheering us on, which is really neat,” Womack said.

The runners aren’t the only ones benefiting, Womack said. The experience has “motivated kids to start running themselves,” he added.

Morgan encourages anyone interested to test their talents by volunteering for the races.

“You might not have the greatest voice sound in the world, but if you got a good band sound, they don’t care about the voice — they like the beat, they like the rhythm, they like the bass that goes with it,” he said of the runners.

And in the end, Morgan says Bruiser has had the opportunity to perform for hundreds of thousands of people.

“Since we’ve been doing it … we average 30-some thousands people … over about nine years — that’s how many people have run by us that we’ve played for. Not too many people can say it that way.”

If you’re interested in being a volunteer performer, contact the entertainment coordinators. Groups or individuals are invited to submit an audio file of no more than 30 seconds or a YouTube link. Please share your name, age (if under 18), email address, military connection — if relevant, and cellphone number.

Sarah Beth Hensley

Sarah Beth Hensley is the Digital News Director at WTOP. She has worked several different roles since she began with WTOP in 2013 and has contributed to award-winning stories and coverage on the website.

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