Marine Corps Marathon weekend will be virtual-only

Runners start the 44th Marine Corps Marathon, in Arlington, Va., Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)(AP/Jose Luis Magana)
The 2020 Marine Corps Marathon weekend is shifting to online-only due to public health concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The race and its related events were scheduled for Oct. 23 through Oct. 25 in Arlington, Virginia, and D.C.

The virtual MCM weekend events, including the MCM, MCM10K, MCM50K and the MCM Semper Fun Mile, must be completed between Oct. 1 and Nov. 10, which is the Marine Corps birthday.

“We explored various approaches to safely execute a live event and held numerous meetings with Marine Corps leadership, local government and public health officials,” said Rick Nealis, director of the Marine Corps Marathon Organization, in a statement Monday.

“We understand this is disappointing news for many, but we could no longer envision a way to gather together in compliance with safety guidelines,” Nealis said.

All virtual race participants will receive the corresponding participant shirt, commemorative bib, patch and/or finisher medal.

Runners will also have access to an online event program, personalized finisher certificate, the MCM Audio Experience and several new digital engagement platforms.

In addition to marking its 45th anniversary, this year’s MCM commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima by featuring actual volcanic ash collected at that site within the event medal.

Nealis told WTOP he estimates 30,000 runners and nearly 100,000 spectators and workers would have come out for the event and considers this year’s virtual marathon a mixed blessing.

“What might have had to have happened in Washington, D.C., now is taking place anywhere and everywhere across the globe,” he said.

Nealis noted the cancellation of the in-person marathon is a huge blow to the local economy, which as he estimated, benefits from a nearly $100 million boost from the event.

“We don’t think about that when we’re thinking about running and coming across the finish line,” he said. “But there’s so many other people that are involved in this race as a primary or secondary role.”

Nealis gave the following advice for those considering training to come back to run the MCM in 2021.

“You got to have a dream,” he said, noting that Oprah Winfrey and Al Gore checked the marathon off their “bucket list” in the 1990s. “Right now, with what we’re going through … get the goals, get the dream, and it not only will help you with your physical well-being, but your whole mental attitude is going to change.”

Find more information about registration for the virtual events or deferring for next year on the MCM website.

WTOP’s Dick Uliano and Rob Woodfork contributed to this report.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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