DC long-distance runner takes on her 11th Marine Corps Marathon to honor fallen service members

Jennifer Hickey
D.C.-based long-distance runner Jennifer Hickey will be taking on the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 29 for the 11th time. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)
Jennifer Hickey
Hickey has now run 200 marathons, once running five in just five days. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)
Jennifer Hickey
Jennifer Hickey

The 48th Marine Corps Marathon is just over a month away and WTOP is highlighting runners who are planning to take on the 26.2 mile stretch around the nation’s capital.

One of them will be taking on the course for the 11th year in a row.

D.C.-based long-distance runner Jennifer Hickey first ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 2012, which was also her first marathon.

“I registered and just ran it completely unprepared,” Hickey told WTOP. “Just the feeling that I had after finishing, it was unmatchable. I was, like, I need to sign up for another one.”

She has now run 200 marathons — once running five in just five days.

In 2014, she began running marathons for causes and nonprofits — and ran 28 marathons that year, alone.

“I wanted to do something a little bit larger than just running marathons for myself,” Hickey said.

She chose something close to her heart: Comfort Zone Camp, a nonprofit grief camp for children in Virginia who have lost loved ones. Hickey lost her father, who also briefly served in the Marines, when she was just 7 years old.

Hickey then began running to raise awareness for veteran suicide and eventually ran for the Travis Manion Foundation, an organization focused on empowering veterans and families of fallen service members.

“The organization just hit a part of me that I can’t fully explain,” she said. “I’ve been running it for Travis Manion Foundation since then.”

Hickey sported the organization’s racing shirt during last year’s MCM.

In 2018, she set out on a mission to represent a fallen military member from each state and territory in the U.S., aiming to complete 54. Hickey ended up running 60, one just two days after her mother passed away.

While she has run these distances across the country, the Marine Corps Marathon holds a special place in her heart.

“It’s a sense of community that you find on a different level than I’ve found in any other marathon,” she said.

About the large crowds lining the entire race, Hickey said, “It’s an unmatchable feeling, all that support and the screaming and the signs and it’s a great distraction.”

Her favorite part, though, has very little supporters and is quiet and peaceful. The Blue Mile serves as a reminder to runners and features “Faces of the Fallen” posters and ribbons honoring service members who died in active duty.

“It’s this respected mile and all those images get a command from the runners,” Hickey said, describing how quiet most racers go.

She advices first-time runners to start slow and conserve energy but above all else have fun.

“Enjoy the atmosphere, soak it up.”

The Marine Corps Marathon will be held on Oct. 29.

WTOP wants to know why you’re planning to run and what is motivating you to train for this event. WTOP will choose some of these stories to feature in an upcoming on-air and online special report. If you or someone you know has an interesting story to tell, tell us about it

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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