23 October 2014

The road to Iwo Jima: Of the people

The Marine Corps Marathon's origins are simple and straightforward, and trace their origins to one Marine, Colonel Jim Fowler, who, following the tumult of Vietnam, saw that "popularity of the military services declined in the eyes of many. At the same time, distance running was gaining considerable positive attention." In a desire to promote community goodwill, showcase the Marine Corps, gain a recruiting tool and finally, to give local Marines an opportunity to qualify for the legendary Boston Marathon, Col Fowler wrote a memo to his superior, General Michael Ryan, dated 17 October 1975, outlining his idea for a Marine Corps Reserve Marathon.(1)

Today, the MCM is the third largest in the nation and the eighth largest in the world and is the largest marathon not to offer prize money, thus earning its moniker, "The People's Marathon."

The start of the 38th MCM (photo: MCM)
And it is indeed. In addition to the Marines who man the water/aid stations, motivate and encourage along the course and congratulate you at the finish, there will be runners from all 50 states, D.C. and some 50 countries, all there to traverse 26.2 miles. There will be over 150,000 spectators lining the course. Amongst these people, threaded in the sea of runners will be thousands of military personnel, active, reserve and retired, running to honor their brethren-in-arms, many of whom have fallen in service to this nation. There will be family members running in tribute, shirts bearing names of loved ones, their sacrifices never to be forgotten. There will be others still running for organizations who serve the injured and wounded, and there will be those who have recovered and are running to achieve one more goal they've set out for themselves.
Retired Cpl Torres is encouraged by his former platoon sergeant, 2ndLt Parker
during the MCM 10K last year. (photo: J. Elise Van Pool)
The two embrace at the finish. Full story here.
(photo: J. Elise Van Pool)
It is indeed a marathon of the people, about each step forward, toward that finish line, remembering what is precious as we run through a historical city, surrounded by monuments imploring us never to forget.

 (1) MarineMarathon.com, Marine Corps Marathon History


  1. Again, the memories of you helping me to the finish line… grabbing a Lt to help me walk to get a dumb banana and much needed water… I love you. I will be embracing you from FLL… on my trip, I will be following your progress… I will eat a banana for you when you are done. The commitment you have is astounding and I am so proud of you!