Marine Corps Marathon returns to DC area after 3-year hiatus

Runners in the D.C. area were off to the races Sunday for the first in-person Marine Corps Marathon in three years.

The 47th annual marathon kicked off at 7:15 a.m. on Virginia Route 110 between Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon. Sunday’s race was the first time the event has been held in person in the D.C. area since 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It could not have been a better day,” said marathon runner Kenan Farmer. “It’s a beautiful course. It’s the best parts of D.C.”

It was Farmer’s first run in the MCM. He said his favorite stretch of the route was heading toward Georgetown on the GW Parkway.

“It was just perfect foliage and there was mist coming off of the river,” Farmer said. “It’s one of those beautiful moments as you’re running.”

Jake Minick went the extra distance and ran the MCM 50K on Sunday morning.

“It was great,” he said. “Such support out there. It was an awesome run.”

Minick said he’s training for an ultramarathon down in Florida, so the MCM was more of a training run for him.

And it’s all in the family. Minick’s two brothers were also running the MCM on Sunday.

“It was fun to hang out with them,” he said.

Melanie Mackenzie, who completed her second MCM on Sunday, said the weather was much better than the first time.

“It’s good to be back. It was really exciting.” said Mackenzie, whose favorite part of the race was being on the National Mall.

Kristen Loflin, an organizer with the MCM, said it was great to see runners on the course, in person and together, again after three years.

“The fact that we get to see these faces at the start line is just so exciting and thrilling for us,” Loflin said.

Approximately 20,000 runners took the path through Rosslyn, across the Key Bridge into D.C.  through Georgetown, Rock Creek Park and the National Mall before returning to Crystal City in Virginia for the race’s home stretch.

Tiffany Mattson was running Sunday as part of Team Red, White and Blue, a veterans support organization based out of Georgia.

“I’ve got an entire family running with me and supporting me every step of the way,” Mattson said. “I love this race and I’m excited to do it again.”

This is Mattson’s second MCM and she said the energy among the runners is what helps her get through.

“It’s one of my favorite races of all time,” Mattson said. “The camaraderie that’s in this race is like nothing I have ever felt.”

Ruth Stilwell ran her fourth MCM on Sunday. She had originally registered for the race in 2020, which ended up being cancelled due to pandemic concerns.

“It’s so exciting,” Stilwell said. “It’s the emotion of it all… when you get to the finish and you see that wall of Marines just cheering you on, there’s no finish line like it in the world and it’s amazing.”

New to this year’s race is the Runners Village — a centralized location in Pentagon City where runners can drop off bags, hydrate and use the restroom before the race.

Road closures due to the marathon will affect large parts of Arlington and segments of Northwest and Southwest D.C. beginning as early as 3 a.m. Sunday morning and going until 5 p.m. You can read a full list of roads affected here.

A map of the race route. (Courtesy Marine Corps Marathon)

Metro also operated free shuttle buses from Blue and Yellow line stations south of Reagan National Airport to the Runners Village in Pentagon City beginning at 5 a.m.

For spectators, there were plenty of spots to take in the race, including the Lincoln Memorial, Smithsonian museums along the National Mall and the Marine Corps War Memorial.

The race officially concluded at 3 p.m.

WTOP’s Valerie Bonk and Ciara Wells contributed to this report.

Matthew Delaney

Matt Delaney is a digital web writer/editor who joined WTOP in 2020.

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