For some runners, it’s a first marathon. Others treat it as a homecoming of sorts. There were 20,303 different stories that involved crossing the finish line of the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon.
Antonio Osadalosada, 57, from Sacramento, Calif. was one of those runners.
This was Osadalosada’s second time running the Marine Corps Marathon. He also ran the year before. His goal this year was to improve on his MCM time from last year, which he did by six minutes.
“It was a perfect running day in my opinion,” he said with a smile across his face.
Confusion in the first mile threw much of the leading Marine Corps Marathon pack into chaos, but Arlington’s Desta Morkama eventually overcame a nearly-two-minute deficit, and up to an extra half mile, to win in 2:25:14. Meanwhile, Fairfax’s Sarah Bishop turned a 22-mile training run into a near-Olympic Trials qualifying time (2:45:06).
This all followed a 10-minute delay to allow a suspicious package to be cleared from the course. (more…)
Successful marathon racing means being able to handle and adjust to 26.2 miles of uncertainty. Usually that means digging down when things get tough, like when you go the wrong way in a race, but for Fairfax’s Sarah Bishop, the Marine Corps Marathon meant feeling better than expected and going with it.
She took what was primarily a 22-mile training run for her goal race in December and won, set a personal record by more than two minutes and fell just short of the target she’s setting for five weeks from now. Her 2:45:06 was just seven seconds short of the qualifying standard.
Bishop, 35, is not too bummed, though. She was happy to even be there.
Update: Richmond retired from running the Marine Corps Marathon before the 43rd race, set for Oct. 28, 2018.
Elisa Zwanenburg is in awe of her father, as he nears 80 years old.
“He’s very determined,” she said. “He’s very competitive. It may be the Marine in him.”
Determined is one way to describe it. For over 40 years, Alfred “Al” Richmond has laced up his running shoes and competed in every Marine Corps Marathon in Northern Virginia. He is now the last “Groundpounder” to have completed every race.
“Honestly, I just didn’t want to be the next one that dropped out,” he joked. “It kind of ended up being a rite of fall.”
Richmond doesn’t gloat, nor does he relish in this distinction. It doesn’t seem ingrained in his identity, it’s just fact: He’s the last of the elite group.
The Working Man
Darrell General is used to operating on a tight schedule. Thirty years ago, when he qualified for his first of five U.S. Olympic marathon trials at the Marine Corps Marathon, General was training hard and working harder at multiple jobs. Today, General, 51, is right on time for a 4 p.m. interview for the Pace the Nation podcast. As long as we get this done in 45 minutes, he’ll still have enough time to drive over to George Marshall High School in Falls Church, Va. to set up a cross country course for tonight’s pre-season time trial. General has been head coach there since 2002.
Running the Straight and Narrow
As I write this, Marine Corps Marathon training is reaching its zenith. The calendar holds just a few more weeks for hard training.
And by the time you read this, you’ll be tapering. It could even be race week, your thoughts shifting to smaller details.
It used to be about how far and fast you’d run on Sunday. Now it’s about little things on race day like how to hold your gels and what shoes to wear. It’s about the defining question of the 41st People’s Marathon: Uber or Lyft?
But I’m still hung up on a detail from last year, a detail that, when the howitzer fired, was as far away from my mind as the finish line: tangents.
It’s a post-GPS watch realization for me — and my run last year at MCM proved it — that I do a very poor job minimizing the distance I cover on the course.
In other words I’m realizing how important it is to study more than where the hills are and where they aren’t. After all the time invested in training, I should also be studying the turns and curves, amassing the knowledge — or at least the awareness — of how to only run 26.2 miles.
The 42st Marine Corps Marathon will bring tens of thousands of runners and spectators to D.C., Arlington and the National Harbor. The extra miles around the Pentagon parking lots and Crystal City are gone and runners will get two more miles on scenic Rock Creek Parkway. Whether they’re gunning for the win, hoping for a personal record or just trying to cross the finish line, they’ll be making memories along the way.
The Metro will once again open at 6 a.m., allowing the course to go back to its 2013-2015 configuration.
Cut possible minutes off of your time by running as close to 26.2 miles as possible. Senior Editor Dickson Mercer takes you through how you can approach the race as strategically as possible.
We asked local runners and their friends for their best advice to making the most out of that morning. Use this guide while developing your plan for the day to best support your runner and make the most of your morning!
Somewhere along the course, you’ll hear music. Then you’ll see a character from the movie The Incredibles. And then you’ll understand the enthusiasm Paul Silberman brings to local road races.
“It gave me an identity beyond being a Marine,” he said. “You think being a Marine is an identity in and of itself, but you’re in a squadron with a bunch of other pilots who are just like you. That’s who you work with day in and day out, and running was sort of a way to be a little bit different. It was my persona.”
Mark Cucuzzella’s highest hopes for running don’t involve him breaking the tape at a marathon. Or posting amazing sales figures at his West Virginia running store, Two Rivers Treads. He wants every military service member to be able to run injury-free.
A look back: Marine Corps Marathon 2015
Trevor Lafontaine had never raced longer than a 10k when he took the line at the 40th Marine Corps Marathon. A little more than two hours and 24 minutes later, he had won.
Sunday’s 40th Marine Corps Marathon started out on the wrong foot when rain and unusually long, slow security lines frustrated thousands of runners, but fortunately, it’s not how you start a marathon, it’s how you finish.
Joe Divel took the enthusiasm that guided his training with him on marathon day.
Will Etti completed the Marine Corps Marathon in 5 hours and 14 minutes, a 37 minute PR over last year’s effort. In last year’s Marine Corps Marathon effort, Etti hobbled through cramping through the later stages of the race, an experience that has been at the forefront of his mind since he began training for this year’s redemption six months ago.
Amelia McKeithen didn’t go in for a rigid training plan that told her what days to run, when to cross-train, or what to eat. She knew back in March when she committed to running the Marine Corps Marathon as a fundraiser for The Children’s Inn at NIH that a structure like that would cramp her style.
Push-rim wheelchair racers and handcyclists are familiar on the courses of D.C.-area races, but that’s not the case elsewhere in the country.
Amid the museums that line the National Mall, Spc. Samuel Kosgei and Capt. Meghan Curran carved out their place in history when they both took leads in the Marine Corps Marathon that they would hold to the finish. Along the way, they both led their respective U.S. Army teams to military marathon team championships.
While many loved the scenic course, crowd support, and near perfect weather, runners at Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon universally raved about one thing: Marine volunteers who motivated them to cross the finish line.
To pin a label on George Banker, you’d have to get him to slow down first. He’s a runner, an organizer, a historian, a photographer, a speaker, a joker, a mentor, a problem solver, and whatever else anyone needs him to be.
With a strong lead in the Marine Corps Marathon, Army Capt. Kelly Calway had her opportunity–run harder now or spend seven months regretting it. With an impending deployment to Kuwait waiting for her a week later, the cool day in Washington was her chance to take care of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Wire-to-wire. It almost has no place in any talk about a marathon, maybe only in a tall tale. The race is too long, too grueling, too open to disruption. But Girma Bedada did it at the Marine Corps Marathon, running 2:21:31.
Much like Girma Bedada and Kelly Calway‘s efforts, Mike Kunzer‘s race at the Marine Corps Marathon was the culmination of years of preparation and training.
They hold their signs proudly while their eyes scan the road. It’s not easy: being in the right place at the right time. All the while they wonder: Do I have their pace right in my head? Did I miss them?
Runners run, elected officials legislate and besides the dozens of honorary congressional chairman for the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile, never the twain shall meet. Until October 2013. The first federal government shutdown in 17 years threw the running community into uncertainty as runners were ostensibly banned from National Parks Service property and race permits for that land disintegrated, putting the region’s marquee race in doubt.
He was beating the bridge, and everyone else, when Trevor Lafontaine wondered if he had made his move too soon.
He hadn’t, but he had good cause to wonder.
[button-red url=”http://www.marinemarathon.com/Results/MCM_Results.htm” target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]The 22-year-old West Point graduate held his lead on Oscar Santos, who he dropped in mile 19, and kept going to a 2:24:24 finish to win the Marine Corps Marathon, which celebrated its 40th anniversary. But he didn’t know what was coming up.
“I’ve never run more than 22 miles, so everything after that was uncharted territory,” he said.
LaFontaine hadn’t raced any distances longer than 10k, an occupational hazard when you come out of college and move right to the marathon.
“I think the little break after the collegiate season helped me,” LaFontaine said. “I ran about 30 miles a week this summer working 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., but things settled down once the school year started, so I had a little break after three seasons of running. Now I can set my own schedule, so when I want to train, I train.”
He coaches the U.S. Military Academy’s prep school cross country team in New York, which gave him flexibility schedule his training, but that hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing. He hoped to run the Army Ten-Miler to give him a taste of longer distances, but coaching the team meant spending that weekend on a trip to a cross country race.
Army coach Lt. Col. Liam Collins recruited him to run the race, but Lafontaine is largely self-coached.
“I did most of my marathon pace workouts at 5:30 pace, shooting for 2:25, so I’m really happy how it all turned out,” he said. “That’s really what I was shooting for. I’d throw in seven miles at marathon pace, but I never really went farther than that.”
That was all he needed, because he averaged just that to win by 1:43 over Santos.
He broke off from Santos, a contractor for the Mexican military, in mile 19, near the U.S. Capitol
Justin Turner and Ken Foster took the lead early, before crossing the Key Bridge at mile four, before falling back on Hains Point after the half marathon mark.
“I had a cramp in mile 18 and I stopped to massage my hamstring,” Santos said through an interpreter. “I lost about two minutes, and I never made up for it.”
The women’s race also featured several lead changes, but in a rarity, the early leader prevailed. Jenny Mendez Suanca led early, but fell back around halfway through, when Harriott Kelly and Maria Elena Jimenez took over heading onto the National Mall near mile 18.
“They sped up and slowed down, but I just kept steady,” at 6:19 pace, she said through an interpreter. “I got a lot of energy from the crowd, even though I didn’t know all they were saying.”
Suanca started running seven years ago, encouraged by her husband, who coaches her, and won three out of her four marathons in her native Costa Rica before tackling her first international marathon at Marine Corps. Her 2:45:55 finish was a 10-minute personal best.
“I feel privileged to be here, running with the Marines,” she said, “It was much less humid. I was cold at first, I struggled, but I warmed up.”
She has been running for roughly seven years, and motivates herself with the opportunity to improve every day.
“I came to challenge myself, to run as fast as I could,” she said.
Behind her, Christine Taranto, who is based in Monterey, Calif., charged out of the middle of the pack to claim second place and a six-minute-plus PR over her time from the Big Sur Marathon this April. As a member of the Marine team, she relished the chance to pass up runners from other branches to finish second.
“Every person, I just thought, this is another point. This is our home race, so I should race like it,” she said. “I hit my goal half marathon split and took it from there. I listened to what number the crowd told me I was, and I just kept moving up. I just ended up running a solid, steady time.”
Taranto’s teammate at West Allegheny High School near Pittsburgh, Lauren Shaffer, also ran, finishing in 3:22:56. The pair finished in the top five at the Pennsylvania state cross country meet’s small school division in 1999.
It was Taranto’s fourth shot at Marine Corps, her third on the current course configuration that has been in place since 2013. Starting that year, the course traded a loop around the Palisades neighborhood for an out-and-back to the north on Rock Creek Parkway to the bottom of Shoreham Drive. Lafontaine’s time was the slowest in the current design, Suanca’s was the second-fastest of three winning women’s times.
Like Taranto, Brian Flynn, of Rockingham County, Va., worked his way up through the race, finishing third in 2:26:26. He used the race as a chance to run 5:25 pace for the second half of the race to prepare him for the California International Marathon in early December. Like Lafontaine, he is a coach, in charge of the Bridgewater College cross country team.
His strategy of holding back early, though, ended up leaving him in the lurch in terms of people to run with. He passed plenty of people
“I had some people from miles two through four,” he said. “Otherwise, I was just passing people, on my own.”
Evan Fox (2:33:01) of Arlington, Dickson Mercer (2:34:45) of Washington and Tom Dichiara of Garrett Park, Md. were the top finishers for their respective states in the D.C. area, while Kara Waters (2:55:53, fourth overall) of Great Falls, Va.; Sarah Whitworth (3:01:06) of Washington and Patricia Soumoff (3:14:39) of Greenbelt, Md. led the local women.
The high point in Zak Miller’s running career came a month ago at the Marine Corps Marathon.
The 28-year old ran his best marathon to date, finishing in 2:36:02 to place 14th overall in a field of 19,791 runners.
It had been a decade earlier when he had last experienced that kind of visceral thrill, winning his Group II race at the indoor 3,200-meter championships while competing with Haddonfield Memorial High School in New Jersey under legendary coach Nick Baker.
And it felt good.
But in truth, that day on the roads, running just his second marathon, had been far beyond what he ever thought he could do individually. Emotionally, it had been a long road to just get back to this point, to have this kind of success in running again.
Just four years earlier, at the low point in his life, he had found himself in jail.
“I was wondering how I went from being recruited by some schools and having decent test scores,” Miller said, “to now, ‘Why am I sitting in jail in Camden, N.J.? How did that happen?’”
# # #
After graduating from Haddonfield, he arrived at Kutztown University as a talented freshman runner for the Golden Bears.
But that had been long ago. Within a few years, he left school, quitting the track team, and moved to Philadelphia – a stone’s throw away from his home in Haddonfield, but just close enough to hold on to old habits.
He had picked up a job at a meat processing plant in North Philadelphia, managing ex-cons in the wean hours of the night. He filed paperwork, watched over employees, and came home at night exhausted.
He didn’t really have any direction. He didn’t have a plan. He had been coasting.
But then that fateful night, one small traffic stop led to his demise.
And now he was in jail, having been arrested after being stopped by police driving on a suspended license, the result of which, he said, of having not paid parking tickets.
Small things added up. While it didn’t mark a life spun out of control from drugs or alcohol, it had been a sobering moment. His life was certainly spinning in some way.
He had ballooned from 135 pounds at the start of his freshman year to 205 pounds at the age of 24. He had stopped running entirely and had formed unhealthy eating habits.
“I don’t think I had any focus,” Miller said. “I didn’t like the job. I wasn’t running and I didn’t have that outlet. I wasn’t doing anything athletically. I don’t know if I knew what I wanted.”
So he sat in that jail cell long and hard that night thinking about the future, thinking about his life, about where it was heading and what he wanted to do with it.
# # #
Miller’s father, Bryan, had encouraged him to start running at an early age.
“He told me my high school coach [Nick Baker] was kind of a legend in New Jersey,” Miller said.
And so he did, at the time becoming part of a program which had won eight New Jersey state championships – currently, the team has 13 overall, winning five straight from 2006-10.
Miller saw his most individual success in indoors, where he was a standout two-miler.
In his state championship group race, he fell behind early, going back to as far as 24th place through two laps. By the finish, though, he had gapped the rest of the field by 50 meters, finishing in 10:11.
“I was very good at knowing where I needed to be and controlling my pace and running under control,” Miller said.
Beyond the track, though, there was another benefit. Miller started to believe in what running brought to his life. He began to soak in that energy and earned a job at the Haddonfield Running Company selling shoes and talking to customers.
When his high school career finally ended, he was headed in the right direction. His career had promise.
# # #
Ultimately, things didn’t work out at Kutztown. Miller credits his time at Kutztown to being naïve and young, like countless other college-aged kids.
“It’s definitely a disappointment,” he said. “It was me being immature, me being 19, 20 years old. I mean, it would have been fun to see what I would have done if I had my head on right, trained right, and ate right, if my coach and I got along. But that’s my own fault.”
Following his exit from college, the immaturity lasted for a few years.
“The shenanigans I pulled and the job I had in Philly, all that factored in,” he said. “I just wasn’t a happy person for years.”
# # #
Following his arrest, it didn’t take long for Miller to zap out of his funk. He decided on a new plan, one that would see himself moving away from the place that he called home, away from the people who had acted, in small parts, as enablers.
Miller applied to a job at Pacers in Silver Spring and moved in with a cousin who lived in Calvert County, Md.
A cousin encouraged him to sign up for a 5K, the Haddonfield Adrenaline 5K, which he did. Still overweight and above 200 pounds, Miller won the race in 16:50.
Weeks later, Miller decided to double down. He signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon, a notion, he said, that was supported by his mother, who had cheered at nearly every one of his races.
Needing to lose weight, Miller started to eat right, incorporating vegetables and protein into his diet. His first true training week saw him run 40 miles. He was training by himself.
“It’s hard to get motivated and get out the door,” he said. “Any runner will say, the hardest step is stepping out the door. So, if you have a shi*** run, having to work through it on your own and not having a distraction of being out there with somebody or anybody else to pace with, it’s kind of maddening. But it’s a strength on the other side. You’re the only one out there working through it yourself.”
At his peak, he had hit 88 miles, and by then, he had lost 30 pounds. Miller went into the race at 175 pounds. More importantly, he had set a goal for himself: 2:42 or bust.
The 27-year-old ran a 2:41:50 in his debut.
He was back.
# # #
Just weeks after the Marine Corps Marathon, Miller is chowing down on barbecue at Kangaroo Boxing Club in Columbia Heights, looking back on his last few years.
After his marathon finish, a local running team had approached him about potentially joining their club.
He’s now working at the Georgetown Running Company.
And more importantly, he’s just a few credits shy of picking up his bachelor’s degree in psychology. He’s taken classes at the University of Maryland and others at a local community college, looking to finalize his degree.
He might even apply for dual-citizenship – his grandmother was Scottish – so he can travel and study some more.
Running will continue to be in his life, regardless of where he goes.
He even has thought about coaching. He’s thought about guiding others who struggle to help release it through running.
“I’m much better person when I’m running then when I’m not,” he said. “I sleep better. I feel better. If you have a shi*** day and go out for a run, you usually feel a lot better afterwards. And that’s how I view it. It’s fun. And it wasn’t fun for a long time. It was a job. In college, it was a job. And now I’m enjoying it again.”
Some Run Washington featured marathoners had great days Sunday at the Marine Corps Marathon, but many missed personal time goals fighting strong headwinds and battling sinus issues. Still, each said they loved the experience of seeing the crowds and crossing the finish line.
See below to check on how each runner fared.
Jenn Pellegrino had a 26.2 mile birthday party at Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon.
“I had a sign on my back that said celebrating my 30th birthday,” she said. “All along the course people were wishing me a happy birthday. It felt like a big birthday party, can’t think of a better way to celebrate that next decade.”
Pellegrino finished the race in about 4:40 and said she “had a blast.” She’s run three marathons in the past month, so went out with the intention to take it easy and just enjoy the atmosphere.
“The Marine Corps is so special, I never try to push it,” she said.
Though she has nothing on the calender officially until the Big Sur Marathon in April, she said she’ll likely sign up for a couple other marathons before the end of the year.
“That’s to be determined, but I usually don’t go more than a few weeks without running a race,” she said.
Breanna Gawrys was disappointed with her race time, but enjoyed the atmosphere on the course, with crowd support and inspirational reminders of those who had died in war.
“Overall it wasn’t quite what I wanted as far as time, but it started off really great for the first 10 miles. I was staying with 3:25 pace group, but I think I went out a little too aggressively. I didn’t feel too great after the half,” she said.
While she thought having more free time to train would leave her better prepared than last year’s race, she ended up finishing in 3:45, slower than her previous year’s time.
“I felt more ready, but I hadn’t really done fast long run training. I did my long runs at comfortable pace, and one night of speed work a week. I think I need to do a little bit more tempo,” she said.
She ran in a Team Red, White and Blue t-shirt and said the crowd support from members of the military made it so she couldn’t give up, even when she struggled in the second half. One of her favorite parts of the course was the Blue Mile on Hains Point, where pictures of fallen service members line the race course.
“It’s very inspiring and very touching,” she said. “Another thing that was really cool too was people racing with and pushing handicapped children and blind guys running, it’s very cool.”
She said she’ll definitely be back at the Marine Corps Marathon in 2015. In between, she’s already signed up for the Rock ‘n Roll half, but is trying to switch to the full marathon to have another shot at qualifying for Boston.
Kelly Swain finished the race in 3:00:55 – less than a minute off her goal of breaking three hours in her first marathon.
Despite that, she said she gave the race her all and is happy with her performance.
“I would say I definitely gave everything I had, left everything out there. I’m really happy about my time and my overall place,” she said.
She said she struggled a bit around mile 17, but got a second wind through mile 22. The last two miles, with little crowd support along the highway, were “definitely rough.”
She said she faced a lot of ups and downs throughout the race – both emotionally and physically – and while no second marathon is on her calender right now, her coach encouraged her to sign up for a flatter race, she said.
On most of the course, however, Swain said she was surprised by how many people came out to cheer on runners. Some of her favorite parts of the course were just after Rock Creek Park and around the Capitol where throngs of people lined the race course.
“Usually I wouldn’t think with such a big race or such a long race there’d be so many people, but there were people everywhere, which was amazing,” she said.
With the marathon behind her, Swain can focus on her next big event: her wedding on Friday. With only a few small logistical things to take care of before then, Swain said she plans to spend most of the week just recovering.
Jon Deitchman loved the crowd support in his first Marine Corps Marathon. His favorite parts of the course were just after Hains Point, when spectators started lining the course again, and through the festival in Crystal City.
“With the festival they had going on, it was a really fun atmosphere. By that point, you know you’re so close it’s just beating your head,” he said.
Deitchman had hoped to break four hours, but ended up finishing in about 4:35. He said started off running with friends and had a hard time moving up around other runners at the beginning. While he may have missed his goal time, he said he was ecstatic just to have the experience of crossing the finish line.
“Everything from the opening ceremonies, it was just a blast and running was fantastic. It was a beautiful day,” he said. “I didn’t go as fast as I wanted to, but that just means next time I’ll have to do a little better. But overall, the experience in itself and just finishing was all your could really want to do.”
He said he hopes to be back out at the race next year to reach his goal time.
Jonathan Ferguson finished Sunday’s marathon in 2:58, blaming his missed goal of 2:50 on recovering from a cold and a strong headwind both heading over the 14th Street Bridge and heading toward the finish line.
“It was not exactly as I’d hoped,” he said. “I was holding up pretty good until I got to mile 20, then I really started to fall apart around there.”
He said his cold has made him miss a few days of training this week and he still didn’t feel 100 percent well for the race.
A highlight was getting to run with a few of his former team mates from the University of Maryland.
“We sort of missed each other at the start, but when we passed each other through Rock Creek Park, it was very fun to see them,” he said.
Anthony Garofano finished in 4:47, missing his goal to finish under four hours. He too was fighting off a cold and taking cold medicine, so said he was overall “pretty satisfied” with his performance in his first marathon.
“The good news is I set a PR, which is easy when it’s your first marathon. The bad news is I got beat by a man in a Stay Puft Marshmallow costume.”
He was reluctant to say whether he’s planning to tackle a second marathon, saying that he’s been told to wait a week to make that decision.
“It was certainly painful, but it felt good to finish,” he said.
He said his newborn daughter, Helen, was out on the course, including just before the finish line.
“My wife brought her out and I saw them a couple times, including just before that final hill up to Marine Corps war memorial,” he said.