Quantico 12K Race Report

On Saturday I ran the newest race in the Marine Corps Marathon series, the Quantico 12K. This running-only event was added to the Quantico Tri, which has been going on for a few years. I liked the opportunity for non-triathletes to join their friends and family members who were also doing the swim and cycle. Quantico isn't too far from home, so I decided to go.

Packet pick-up was on Friday at Quantico. Imagine my delight to visit MCM headquarters! I didn't stay long because I drove down before work and needed to get back to Arlington to start my work day. But now I knew exactly where to go the next day.

MCM HQ - Oorah!
Front of 12K shirt
Back of 12K shirt

On Saturday I started out a little later than I planned, and then there was traffic on the base getting to the parking. But once I was parked, everything was right in the same area: start, finish, parking, port-o-potties, beer tent - which I visited not in that order.

The weather wasn't too hot, but it was humid, and I knew the course was hilly, so I was hoping for the best on my last "long" training run before Mexico City. The colors were presented and the national anthem sung, and then we were off.

The Colors

The first several paces were on road, then we entered the woods and ran on a gravel or dirt road for most of the course. The route went uphill almost immediately at a fairly steep grade which lasted for a mile or so. What a way to feel like a dead weight right from the start. But the race is organized by the Marines, and they don't give you an easy course.

Coming up the first long, steep hill
And up...

I ran by myself, but leap-frogged with several runners near my pace throughout the race, which was 7.46 miles for those of you not familiar with kilometers. I'm not sure why this distance was chosen, but it was my first 12K, so I knew I'd earn an automatic PR.

Most of the course was shaded, so that provided some relief from the sun and humidity. The hills were rolling, with ups and downs. The second aid station was by a pond near mile marker 4, and then there was another mile-long, steep climb to mile marker 5. I'll admit it: I walked the whole thing. I wasn't going to be able to run it much faster, and walking it was still a workout. I kept thinking about how I won't be able to do all that walking in Mexico City; that race will be sheer willpower. After the big hill, I got into a groove running the rolling hills. Things got tricky in some spots where there was a lot of loose gravel and even fairly large stones. We were still on road, but parts of it felt like a trail, complete with mud. Missing were the single-track and the tree roots. I would not have minded having trail shoes and gaiters, but I was OK with my regular running shoes. This was the part of the course I enjoyed the most as I passed lots of runners on the downhills. I'd run enough trails to know when I had to be careful and when I could let loose.

There were signs like this all over the roads in the woods; they're obviously used for PT

Uh, no...not before this last uphill

In the last mile and a half the 12K course joined the triathletes who were on the second half of their 5K. I was just about done with this race by the time we came out of the woods and ran the last half mile back on roads. Coming into the finish I could see the yard with all the finish area tents and people celebrating their victories.

After I crossed the finish and received my medal, I loaded up on food. There were so many choices: different bars, muffins, bananas. I had a really good cinnamon crumb cake muffin which was messy to eat, but I didn't care. I sat down for a few minutes to eat the muffin and drink water, and then  headed to the beer tent.

But before I got to the beer I was spotted by Jenn and Chuck. Jean ran the 12K with me, but she's faster, so I never saw her. Chuck did the tri; it was his first in several years. He said it was a good event. Apparently the water in the Potomac River was pretty warm though.

With Jenn and Chuck

After saying goodbye to Jenn and Chuck I was spotted again, this time by Christina, whom Scot and I met in March at Rock 'n' Roll DC. I chatted with Christina and her friends while I drank my beer. Then we were joined by race directer Rick Nealis. It was great to meet him. He gave us a heads-up that both the Marathon and 10K will have some course changes this year. We'll need to wait a bit before we learn exactly what those changes are.

With Christina

With Rick Nealis, MCM race director

All in all, I had a good time at the Quantico 12K and wouldn't hesitate to run it again. Oh, and those Curate Bars that I tried at the Pacers Crystal City Twilighter 5K were at this race too. By the time I hit up the Curate booth they were giving away the remaining stock by the case. I got four entire packages of bars, in four different flavors. Score!

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