Marine Corps Half Marathon Race Review

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The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) is one of the largest marathons in America. Popularly dubbed “The People’s Marathon,” MCM draws participants from all 50 states as well as other parts of the globe.

The Marine Corps Historic Half is an unforgettable 13.1-mile experience through Fredericksburg, VA and offers participants the challenge of the Semper 5ive and Devil Dog Double events.


Since 1976, the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) has been held annually since 1976 as “The People’s Race.” Though not an easy race to run, its purpose is to celebrate teamwork, patriotism and spirit of adventure through running 26 miles to finish line at Marine Corps War Memorial in Washington D.C.

Colonel James Fowler, an officer in the Marine Reserves, proposed holding a marathon as part of a support project for his military unit in 1975. His goal was for it to showcase physical fitness, promote discipline in Marines and build goodwill with post-Vietnam community members while offering local Marines an opportunity to qualify for Boston Marathon qualification. Fowler submitted his idea to Major General Michael P. Ryan who approved of it immediately.

Once the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) began, participation steadily grew year-after-year. By 1982, its ever-increasing popularity necessitated moving its control away from Marine Corps Reserve personnel at Marine Barracks Washington D.C. This move allowed it to grow even larger; eventually becoming one of the world’s premier marathon events.


Today, the MCM attracts thousands of runners and spectators each year to Washington D.C and Arlington Virginia for the race. Attracting participants of all ages, participants get to experience various national treasures such as the National Mall, Kennedy Center and Jefferson Memorial – not forgetting other iconic sights like United States Capitol Building, Washington Monument and Arlington National Cemetery!

The MCM has attracted several high-profile celebrities, such as Al Gore and Oprah Winfrey, while also being popular with members of the military; many runners run wearing uniform to raise awareness for military-related causes.

The MCM features a Family Link Up area where runners can reunite after the race with family and friends, plus food vendors, water stations, portable bathrooms and spectator cheering areas along the course. Following their run at Rosslyn VA they can enjoy the MCM Festival.


Marine Corps Half Marathon runners embark on a 13.1 mile journey through Fredericksburg, Virginia’s historic streets to showcase Marines’ discipline and dedication while raising money for various military and local charities. MCM does not award prize money for top finishers; rather it celebrates honor and courage of all Marines who complete this race.

MCM organizers strive to continually enhance their course, creating an unforgettable experience for participants. In 2020, this includes making some small modifications such as eliminating one left turn near Mile 2 for both Semper 5ive and the Historic Half events; this change reduces turn counts while maintaining the best running tour through historic Fredericksburg.

The race route includes some of America’s oldest universities – Mary Washington University and landmarks from its long history such as General Robert E. Lee’s headquarters during the Civil War, clock tower and clock tower clock tower are also passed on the course. Entertainment performers provide additional encouragement along the course while thousands of spectators line streets cheering runners along.

Pre-Race Support

On the day before the MCM, participants can participate in a kids’ fun run and visit Camp Miles for activities and games designed to boost physical fitness. There will also be a Carbo Dining In dinner featuring top speakers and Marine Corps entertainment to inspire and motivate runners.

Carbo Dining In is the perfect opportunity for runners to collect their MCM packets – which include an amazing finisher medal and technical participant shirt! Additionally, participants may purchase additional merchandise at the MCM Expo Center.

Besides the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM), the Marine Corps Foundation also hosts the Quantico Triathlon on Officer Candidate School trails at Marine Corps Base Quantico. In contrast to these other events, MCM stands as one of the premier marathons in America and draws runners from over 50 countries worldwide.

Be sure to register early for the Marine Corps Marathon if you want the best chance at snagging a bib! Registration opens the first week in March for active duty personnel only; midway through March approximately 7,000 “rush” spots become available to general public participants on a first come, first serve basis.


Running can be done solo, in teams of four runners led by an administrator (captain). When creating the team in the online registration system, its captain will receive a link that takes them directly to a page where they can invite teammates and manage it. Teams compete across categories including men’s, women’s, masters, organization and military; active-duty service members can enter the Marine Corps Marathon Squad Challenge where nine-13 runners represent a single squad team! Many participants run for one of 80 charities participating in Charity Partner Program of this event!

At this event, in addition to marathon and half-marathon races, runners can also participate in a 10k race and one-mile Healthy Kids Fun Run. Starting from 6:30 AM at the Pentagon on Oct 29th, runners will pass through Rosslyn, Georgetown, Rock Creek Parkway and Hains Point before making one last hard push towards Iwo Jima Memorial and its finish line.

The Marine Corps Marathon is an iconic sporting event held each year in the United States and known worldwide as “The People’s Marathon.” The annual race embodies the discipline, commitment and honor associated with United States Marine Corps service members and officers. Organized by volunteer Marines and sailors who set an exceptionally high standard in all aspects of event organization; thousands of military personnel across the nation support it each year.

Organisers are keeping the option to register virtually for both the marathon and 50K this year, but at an increased price. Virtual entries will cost domestic runners $95 while international runners $125 plus processing fee. Those looking to complete both in person can sign up for the Semper Fidelis Challenge; participants who finish both Historic Half or Devil Dog Double on May 22 and either marathon/50K on October can earn special medals!

Packet Pickup

Marine Corps Half Marathon (MCHH) and Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) are military-themed events with the mission to promote physical fitness, foster discipline and foster goodwill within communities. Both events also raise money for various charities – run entirely by volunteers with no prize money offered – making these races open and free to all runners who may choose between running the full or half marathon distances.

MCM Weekend begins with Packet Pickup at Fredericksburg Expo Center from Friday to Saturday. Take this chance to collect your race bib, race shirt and safety pins ahead of the event! If you cannot attend in person, bib mail out is available for an additional fee; purchase this option during registration or add it later via Participant Account.

Participants should wear their bibs front-and-center to accurately time a race, avoiding any folding, bending or alteration as this could alter timing chips. On race day itself, no products containing methylcellulose should be used by athletes; this substance is widely used by athletic tape manufacturers and can cause chemical reactions with certain materials like plastics and polyesters.

All participants of the Marine Corps Half Marathon, Semper 5ive or Devil Dog Double will receive a custom finisher medal and can collect their commemorative finisher certificate from their participant accounts. In addition, runners can order high-resolution race photos from FinisherPix that will be featured on MCM Facebook after the event has taken place.

MCM hosts an annual competition called the Semper Fidelis Challenge to test how many runners from across all branches of military can complete all three events within one year.

Running the MCM attracts runners from over 50 nations; if you plan to enter from overseas, consider booking one of the official MCM Travel Partners to ensure you can experience everything Fredericksburg has to offer while taking part.

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