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Last ‘Groundpounder’ retires after running 42 Marine Corps Marathon races

Al Richmond, 78, trains for his 42nd Marine Corps Marathon during a run with WTOP's Sarah Beth Hensley at Hains Point. He had run every Marine Corps Marathon since the race started in 1976. (WTOP/Sarah Beth Hensley)

WASHINGTON — The last man to have run every Marine Corps Marathon race since it began in 1976 announced his retirement Saturday after making his final run last year.

Al Richmond, a 77-year-old retired Marine Corps Colonel, is what’s known in the Marine Corps Marathon world as a “Groundpounder” — someone whose run every race in the marathon’s 42 years.

The “Groundpounders” started as a small group of runners who continued running the race each year. Even as the group dwindled, Richmond’s competitive drive kept him in the race.

Richmond, an Arlington, Virginia, resident, registered to run this year, but recently withdrew. Over the course of his 51-marathon career, and also years of playing football and running other races, Richmond never got injured.

Despite Richmond’s achievement, running didn’t always come naturally to him. He played football in high school and college, and said he begrudgingly trotted three miles during physical evaluations when he joined the Marine Corps.

It wasn’t until another Marine Corps comrade came back from a training run for the first Marine Corps Marathon that Richmond considered long-distance running. And he hasn’t missed a race since, even in 1989 when he was shot three times during a mugging in New Orleans.

Richmond ran his best marathon time of 3:16:21 in 1979. His personal best is 3:00:50.


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