WASHINGTON — If you made a list of the things that 56-year-old Cathi Remington really, really loved, high up on it would be her country, the Marines and grueling races. And so it only makes sense that this grandmother from New Hampshire would look to satisfy that itch for competition by returning to the Marine Corps Marathon for the fifth time.
Remington served in the Marines in the early and mid-1980s, and ran the race four times before — every year between 1993 and 1996. Her best finish came in 1995 when she ran the race in 3:14:40, a nearly 14-minute improvement from the year before. In fact, all four times she finished under the 3 1/2-hour mark.
“I decided that at age 56 I wanted to get back into racing,” said Remington, who runs a bead shop in Hampton, New Hampshire. “So (22) years later, I’m coming back.”
And coming back to this race as opposed to the famed Boston Marathon is a much bigger deal where she’s from. She notes with her heavy New England accent, “everyone loves Boston, and I do too, but for some reason there’s just something about the Marine Corps Marathon.”
“It’s the spectators that are there, the people running it, the motivation, running around D.C. — I’m very patriotic having that military background. It’s just a wonderful feeling,” she said.
Remington said another unforgettable moment happened in 1994 when she ran part of the course with Oprah. Later in the interview Remington admits that part of why she’s running again is the “camaraderie and the fun,” but it isn’t long before the competitive streak starts to show itself too.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say I would be hurt” if she didn’t finish in first place in her category. “I’ve been training so hard,” Remington said.
Her goal this year is to again finish in less than 3:30:00, a faster time than most other 56-year-olds — male or female — ran last year.
Remington said it’s hard not to be motivated by all the marines who dot the course of the marathon, cheering people on. And the images of finishing at the Iwo Jima Memorial still make her emotional.
“One thing that people forget: We’re still at war, and we still have a lot of people out there protecting us,” Remington said. “People have sacrificed.”
And it’s her love for the Marines, and those who also served, that’s bringing her back again. The Marines Corps Marathon, Remington said, “is the one I keep going back to.”