Lace up those running shoes because the Marine Corps Marathon is returning live and in person.
The event’s races, held annually in D.C. and Arlington, will be held in person from Oct. 29 to Oct. 31 after it ran as a virtual-only event last year.
Race Director Rick Nealis told WTOP that despite not holding a physical marathon in over a year, organizers have “adapted” in hosting smaller events with similar layouts. With that experience along with his military logistics background, Nealis said the event will go off without a problem while working together with local officials to ensure everyone’s safety.
“You almost have to pinch yourself when you realize it will be two years since we’ve had that many runners come across the finish line, as we’ve transitioned through a real tough year in 2020,” Nealis said.
Health and safety measures will be in place and adhere to local guidelines, including a reduction in the size of the field and dividing runners into scaled and socially-distanced start times. Nealis said he expects the race to have two-thirds of its usual field of runners, about 15,000 participants, because of restrictions.
The races usually generate about $100 million for the region. While that may not happen this time, they will bring some necessary aid to local businesses affected by the pandemic.
“The fact that it’s Halloween just makes it even kind of more magical that it’s a treat,” Nealis said. “There’s no trick in what we’re doing. This is all about treats.”
Those who are currently registered for a virtual run or deferred from the 2020 events will have the first opportunity to switch to the live event. All three races have a virtual option. They can be run from Oct. 1 to Nov. 11.
Access to the virtual event is closed at this time. General entries will be made available to the public at noon on May 26.
Despite the allure of running in the event, Nealis said there may be “little trepidation” from some runners about coming back. For those who do participate this year, organizers hope the races run as smoothly and safely as possible.
“I think this is going to be a clear showing that we’re going to come out of this, and it’s through running that gives you the healthy lifestyle,” Nealis said.
“The mental fatigue that we’ve all experienced of being cooped up, I think it’s going to explode. I think it’s going to be a magical three days of camaraderie.”
WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report.