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Cliff & Noreen McCausland Marine Corps Marathon, Washington DC 29/10/23

One of the most iconic city marathons out there, and a bucket list event for many multiple marathoners is the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC. While many of North Down AC’s marathon runners were pounding the streets of Dublin in cool autumn temperatures punctuated by the occasional downpour, Cliff and Noreen McCausland took on the heat of the American capital. Here’s Cliff’s report:

The start of the 48th Marine Corps Marathon was just outside the Pentagon on a freeway, no Corals, 30000+ runners, 2 Marine Corps Ospreys flew over at the precise moment the gun went off, it was perfect! The start takes you up into Arlington, 2.5 miles of mostly uphill before the first Potomac crossing and an out and back section running alongside the same river. It was bliss. Plenty of water along the course and it never ran out. The blue mile (mile 12) dedicated to fallen military was emotionally charged. The halfway point following nearly went unnoticed except for the marine sergeant shouting something about completing the mission. The course then took you around several memorials including the Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson and then, at a distance, the front of the White House – funnily we saw THE helicopter flying about. It was all eye candy. Meanwhile the day was getting progressively hotter heading into the red zone. We both beat the bridge which was hellish to cross, made of concrete it was reflecting the growing heat, made your feet feel on fire. The marines had placed water vats halfway across the bridge and people were almost bathing in the water they provided. We were then sent out to Crystal city, famous for the sign ‘bad decisions start here ‘ which is accompanied by a shot of fireball… Invigorated we were sent back towards the airport which was a bit agricultural as the roads were being renovated then directed past the Pentagon to the final hill and finish line. Unknown to us, for some runners behind it ended early as the conditions had gone past safe limits so they shortened the course. This has to be one my favourite marathons now, it beats several of the majors with its route, on course logistics and support. You end up feeling looked after and the finish area with refreshments and entertainment including a Marine rock band was outstanding. For me, it was a training run for Boston, given in June, it was 50-50 I would ever be able to run again. Finishing has qualified me for NYC 2024, hopefully a victory lap after Boston in April. I would love to do this one again after. If you get the chance do it. It is amazing!

Cliff completed the course in 5:01:57 and Noreen finished in 5:35:12.