The Best 10K Ever

Over the weekend, I ran my 3rd Marine Corps Marathon 10K. I love this event because it allows people who can’t, or choose not to, run the marathon to still be part of the action. I have run the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) only once, in 2006. The first year I ran the 10K was 2011, when I was getting back into running after a long break, and I wasn’t yet trained up to marathon distance. The second year I ran the 10K was 2013, when I was injured and needed to do a shorter distance. This year, I was registered for the marathon, but deferred that entry to 2015 and registered separately for the 10K. I had scheduled myself too heavy with marathons this fall and needed a relatively easy race in between double marathon weekends in other states.

After my 10K finish, getting warm in my hoodie
Whatever reason someone has for choosing the 10K, it’s always a good race. The 10K and the marathon share some of the same course, but the start of the 10K is on the National Mall, whereas the marathon starts near the Pentagon. The 10K does not have all the same fanfare as the marathon, but it does have a lot of perks, unlike any other 10K I have run. Here are some good things about the MCM 10K:

You still have an excuse to carbo load, just don't go overboard. Scot and I met with some of our Marathon Maniac friends at Vapiano the night before the marathon. It was another good time spent with good people. Apparently, lots of other runners were there for an early dinner of pre-race carbo loading, and the restaurant didn't know what hit them.
Most of the Marathon Maniac pre-race dinner crew

Scot and I enjoyed getting to know new Maniacs Jonathan and Georges at dinner

The 10K has a noteworthy start. The big, inflatable starting arch on the Mall may not launch as many runners, and might not have as phenomenal of an opening ceremony, but it’s still good. We saw the colors presented and heard a good rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. We got to start our race among some of our country’s most famous monuments. And something extra fun occurred this year. Before our 10K start, there was a dog race to mark the upcoming show Dogs of War on A&E. The show is about service dogs who are paired with veterans with PTSD. The race featured several dogs and their owners/handlers. It was fun to watch.

A still shot from my video of the dog race

Proudly bearing the flags

Running toward Washington Monument

We get to run the infamous 14th Street Bridge. This bridge over the Potomac River on I-395 is the one that the marathon runners need to cross to get back into Virginia at a certain time during the race. If they don’t make the bridge in time, they will not be allowed to finish the race. “Beat the Bridge” is a well-known saying relating to the MCM. For the 10K, we ran across the bridge early in our race and didn’t need to worry about beating it. But we did get the mind-numbing tedium or running across it just like the  marathoners.

It has a lot of the same high energy as the marathon. We get excited spectators, helpful Marines, some of the same entertainment, and the sense that we are running for a purpose.

Love these drummers; they come out for a lot of the big DC races

The Marines were super supportive
The 10K has the same iconic finish as the marathon, running up the hill to the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, colloquially known as the Iwo Jima memorial. It’s a short hill, but it’s a steep hill and it can be tough at the end of your race with just .2 miles to go. It’s awesome that the 10K runners get to experience the same finish.

The 10K Mile 6/marathon Mile 26
Soon I would turn left up that hill that is lined with spectators

There's great swag. There’s a medal, for one thing. Most 10Ks don’t offer medals. The 10K medal is smaller and not as noteworthy as the marathon medal, but that only makes sense. The 10K runners are treated to the same post-race food and drink as the marathoners. And we get a similar mock-neck race shirt.
Front of winter weight MCM10K tech shirt

Back of 10K shirt

It’s an opportunity to meet new people. After I finished my 10K, I got my bag from gear check, then headed over to the beer tent to celebrate my finish. While I was there, I struck up conversations with both 10K runners and marathon runners (fast marathon runners). I enjoyed the camaraderie or sharing a race experience and learning other people’s stories.

I enjoyed some conversation with Caleb and Sidney in the beer tent
It’s fun to cheer on the marathoners. After my refreshment break, I went back to the top of the finish hill to watch Scot come in. Then the two of us stayed at the finish to cheer the remaining marathoners up that hill. Many of them we knew, but most of them we didn’t know. They were all accomplishing something great, and we understood that the slowest runner out there sometimes needs the most encouragement. While other spectators filtered out as their friend or family member finished the race, a few of us stayed until the very end. Scot even went back to find one of our friends who we knew might be having a tough day. Unfortunately, our friend didn’t finish the race, but Scot found the back of the pack and walked in with them and encouraged them.

Lori made it up the hill and is turning into the finish

Linda finishing MCM strong

Here comes Doug up the hill after a tough marathon
Scot and a 10K runner escort the last marathon finisher up the hill
Sporting my 10K medal while Scot and Angela wear their awesome marathon medals

Next year I’ll be registered to run the 40th annual MCM. I will not want to defer this one. But there’s a very high chance of me running the 10K again another year. It’s a good distance, a well-managed race, and a great experience.


  1. Awesome blog! And thank you for including me in it!! It's always awesome to see you and Scot!!

    1. Thanks Angela. Congrats on your MCM finish. It's definitely a memorable race.


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