Marine Corps Marathon weather history is one of wild temperature swings

D.C. has been in the spotlight for hosting one of the world’s largest marathons for the past 47 years, but the weather has been anything but consistent.

The annual Marine Corps Marathon is supported by men and women of the U.S. Marine Corps and provides runners a tour of D.C.’s most recognizable landmarks.

Although the race has upheld its prestige through the years, one variable that can change from year-to-year is the weather. Believe it or not, there can be a 45-degree swing in temperatures at the end of October in the District.



The warmest Marine Corps Marathon was in 2016, when temperatures hit 80 degrees at the finish line. Just five years prior, 2011 was the race’s coldest with a chilly 35 degrees as runners toed the start line.

Ask most runners and they will say the ideal marathon weather is cloudy skies, light to calm wind and temperatures in the 40s.

Being in the transition season between summer and winter, D.C. can see a wide assortment of temperatures in late October. When lows and highs over the last 30 years are averaged, the city starts in the upper 40s and ends up in the lower 60s for the end of October.

But as we all know, the weather is rarely “average.”

A look at Sunday’s weather extremes for this year’s Marine Corps Marathon shows the record high was 82 degrees in 1996, with a record low of 32 degrees observed in 1969.

When rain does occur in late October, unless linked with a tropical system, it doesn’t usually produce torrential downpours and flooding. The record rainfall for Oct. 30 is only 0.84 inch in 2012.

Runners hitting the course Sunday won’t sweat too much this year. Canadian high pressure will bring a light northeast breeze with clouds shielding the sun, but no rain.

Temperatures will rise from 50 degrees at the start to near 60 degrees at the finish line for the marathon. Best wishes for a successful and safe race to all the 10K and marathon runners.

Chad Merrill

Chad Merrill is a meteorologist and digital weather content producer for WTOP. Prior to joining WTOP, Chad was a meteorologist in the private industry and television. He loves to share his passion with listeners and readers and is eager to hear from anyone who has any weather questions!

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