Despite last week’s cancelation of the Army Ten-Miler’s Oct. 10 in-person race, Marine Corps Marathon race director Rick Nealis believes his Oct. 31 race is ready to go off as planned.
The key to Nealis’ hopes is a waiver from the Department of Defense that will allow the race to assemble groups of 250, 10 times more than current COVID-19 mitigation policy on the Pentagon grounds. The race uses the Pentagon as a staging area and “runners’ village” before moving to the start on Virginia’s Route 110. There, the race will be free to arrange runners in whatever size starting wave it wishes.
“I think the measures we provided met the spirit of covid mitigation safety,” he said. “We did our homework for this back in May based on Arlington County’s guidance at the time, and I think the whole process has been pretty reasonable.”
Though Nealis acknowledged that canceling the pre-race expo and pasta dinner would detract somewhat from the race weekend experience and camaraderie, it would be a small price to pay.
“If we had to give up indoor events to keep the race, that’s an easy decision,” he said. “We’ll mail everything out in early October, well before anyone starts driving or gets on a plane to come to the race.”
The smaller in-person field size, with roughly 9,000 entrants, will also be a price to pay for having a race at all.
“We knew we couldn’t have 30,000 person race, but we didn’t want a 30,000 person race,” Nealis said. “This makes it all feasible.”
The race will require masks while on Pentagon grounds and before the start, but new masks will be supplied at the finish line and required at the US Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington and will be suggested in Rosslyn
Nealis did not expect much resistance to the race’s vaccination requirement, but said any objectors will be free to choose a deferral to 2023– when he anticipated not needing vaccine requirement–the virtual race or a refund.
“If you love the sport, you’ll know it’s time to follow the rules,” he said. “Take it easy on race management, we’re trying to make things happen, here.”