Column: My experience with the (virtual) 2021 Marine Corps Marathon

WTOPs Stephanie Gaines-Bryant posing with her Marine Marathon 10K medals.

There was no early morning subway ride for me, no street closures, no crowded start line and no smelly porta-potties. This year’s Marine Corps Marathon and 10K were virtual.

This year’s race was my 7th Marine Corps Marathon 10K, and my first virtual. I completed the full Marine Corps Marathon in 1999 and quickly decided that half marathons and 10K’s (6.2 miles) fit much better into my schedule as a working mother of four. I then completed the MCM 10K in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and today.

I began the 2021 virtual 10K at my doorstep in Bowie, Maryland. I was run/walking to promote women’s health and wellness. I ran/walked to Centennial Park, three-fourths of a mile from my home where I circled the park twice.

I then traveled to Allen Pond Park, another three-fourths of a mile away, where I circled twice. The rest of the miles were completed in the trails that run through two neighborhoods in Bowie — Glen Allen and Covington.

WTOPs Stephanie Gaines-Bryant holds the phone she used to track her time and mileage during the Marine Corps Marathon and 10K.

Along the way, I met people like Elaine and Anita who were out for a morning walk at Allen Pond Park. Elaine is a breast cancer survivor. As part of her mission to stay healthy, “I’m here every day if the weather allows,” she said.

Her walking partner, Anita, is also on a mission. “I began walking because my doctor said I was obese,” she said. Walking has helped her shed pounds.

As I headed back to my cul-de-sac to complete the last tenth of a mile, there were no cheering crowds, no one to hand me water or bananas or to put a finisher’s medal around my neck. Just my husband clapping, “Yeah, Steph.”
That’s all I needed.

Stephanie Gaines-Bryant

Stephanie Gaines-Bryant is an Anchor and Reporter for WTOP. Over the past 20 years, Stephanie has worked in several markets, including Baltimore, Washington, Houston and Charleston, holding positions ranging from newscaster to morning show co-host.

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