Marine Corps Marathon Sets 16,000 Runner Limit
By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 22, 1997 The "People's Marathon" will limit the field to 16,000 runners this year.
Marine Corps Marathon officials in Quantico, Va., said the limit for the Oct. 26 race will help ensure a safe race and reduce congestion at the start and finish lines.
Because of the limit, marathon officials encourage early registration. All runners must register by Sept. 18; applications are available by calling (800) RUN-USMC or by downloading the application through the marathon web site (http://issb-www1.mqg.usmc.mil/marathon).
"It's important for our runners to have access to the course and be able to run their personal best," said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Robert Bieri, the race's senior enlisted adviser. "A runner's finishing time is important, and we need to make sure they fight the clock without having to fight traffic and other runners."
Participation has grown in all but two of the marathon's 21 years. Last year, over 19,000 runners competed -- an amount race coordinator Rick Nealis said "stretched our logistic and support capabilities."
Nealis, a veteran marathon runner, has guided daily preparations for the nation's fourth largest marathon. Only New York, Los Angeles and Honolulu are bigger.
"We're encouraged by the growing number of people who share our commitment to physical fitness," he said. "My biggest concern is for the safety of our runners. We have to be able to provide enough fluid replenishment, medical services and general course support for all our runners. I want to make it safe, and I want to make it fun."
The Marine Corps Marathon starts near the Marine Corps (Iwo Jima) Memorial in Arlington, Va. The 26.2-mile course weaves through Arlington's Crystal City area, past Arlington National Cemetery, then across the Key Bridge into Washington's historic Georgetown district.
Athletes then run past Washington's historic monuments, around Capitol Hill and past the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials before crossing back into Virginia and returning to the Iwo Jima Memorial.