The 40th Anniversary of the Marine Corps Marathon (my goal race this fall) is quickly approaching and I thought I’d share some tips on how best to spectate the marathon and support your runners. Yes, some of this is self serving – I’ll be sending it along to my husband but I would’ve LOVED to have this info last year when I ended up probably running close to ten miles on race day (granted six of those miles were where I was actually running, but still). I’ve gathered tips that I learned last year plus a couple tips from friends who’ve either spectated or run the race. I hope you all find this helpful!
Tips on how to spectate the Marine Corps Marathon:
- Metro is your friend. Last year, I ran all over the city (literally) trying to get from point to point, when I just should’ve used the Metro. While the Metro isn’t perfect, it is probably your (and your spectator’s) best bet to getting around the city on race day. Parking and driving will be quite hectic and it will probably be much easier for most folks to Metro to get to and from the race.
- Make sure you have enough money on your fare card/Smart Trip card for the round trip. The Metro stations downtown will be crowded and will have long lines, especially at the fare machines. – from Kathryn at From Dancing to Running.
- Tracking your runner. There is an official MCM app that can be downloaded on the website but sometimes those trackers don’t work well. If you have an iphone I recommend downloading the Find Friends app (it’s free) so then you can easily track where exactly your runner is. At the very least, write down your runners’ bib numbers so that if the app doesn’t work, you can just go to the website and attempt to track them by typing in their bib number.
- Planning to jump in and run with someone? (note: the race prohibits this so if you do so and get caught, don’t blame me!) I learned firsthand last year that it is possible to run with someone – but you have to be smart about when you try this. You will not be allowed to jump in anywhere near the 14th Street Bridge. Last year I watched police officers pull people without bibs off the course along the bridge. The race has excellent security and that’s a good thing. Just be aware if you are going to try and run a few miles with your runner.
- Managing the finish line. I don’t recommend trying to be at the finish line unless you are really only going to the finish line. It is extremely crowded and difficult to find folks.
- Settle on a specific meeting spot post race, it WILL be crowded and runners are diverted to the finish line area past Iwo Jima which is completely fenced in and it’s a long walk for them to get there. – from Mar at Mar on the Run.
- Consider walking up the hill to the Courthouse metro station to avoid the crowds. – from Sue at This Mama Runs for Cupcakes.
- The gear. Race spectating is hard work! Dress appropriately with sneakers, comfortable clothes and bring water and snacks (I’m not joking). If you are going to be out there all day, you’ll need to keep yourself hydrated and fed. For good measure, carry a snack that your runner might want so you can offer it to them. Also, carry aspirin, bandaids, etc – just in case. Your runner will thank you.
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The Marathon website has some great spectator tips that you can find here, along with maps of the race. Thank you so much to all of you who volunteer and spectate at races. I absolutely LOVE spectating races and when I’m running races, I SO appreciate spectators that come out!
edited to add: This PDF map is easily printable and also has all the Metro stops listed. I’ll be giving this to my husband and parents and think it’s SUPER helpful compared to the map on the website that isn’t easily printable.
What are your tips for spectating the Marine Corps Marathon?