Saturday morning I will be running my 4th Marine Corps 17.75. Every year I debate signing up for this race. It’s a challenging course at a time of year when weather in this area is iffy, but the Golden Ticket is a huge incentive. This year I got into the Marine Corps Marathon through the Rush Registration (which I only used because of the crazy weather.) So, I don’t have to run it if I don’t want to. But I’ll be there. Probably overdressed because I’ve been a total weather wimp this winter. And I’ll love every minute of what is likely to be a freezing cold and muddy race. Because it’s just that awesome.
- Get there early. There is no parking at the start/finish and the shuttle lines get longer the closer you are to start time. Catch an early shuttle so you can get to the start with time to spare and have plenty of time for the portapotties. This is especially important if you need to pick up your bib.
- Stay warm in the church. Bring some cash for a donation as a thank you. The race start and finish are near a church that is kind enough to allow runners to stay warm in, as well as to use the indoor bathrooms. Show your appreciation by behaving with decorum, by not leaving trash or items behind, and by leaving a small donation (or few rolls of TP).
- Leave no trace. This is a National Park. Don’t drop your gel trash or your discarded clothing just anywhere. Drop trash in trash cans or carry it out. Discard extra clothing at the water stops.
- Enjoy the course. It’s hard. In fact, I venture to say it’s harder than the actual marathon. The hills are crazy and the footing on much of the course is slightly rocky and uneven. It’s not a true trail race, but you are running a lot of the race on unpaved roads through the woods. But it’s a pretty course and a great challenge and a nice place to spend a Saturday morning. Plus the time limits are generous so you can take your time and enjoy it.
- Be prepared for any weather. Virginia is fickle in February and March. We have tank top weather and we have feet of snow. I’ve run this race in a short sleeve shirt, in short sleeves with arm warmers, and in every layer I could put on. This year looks like it’s likely to be chilly and muddy, so my main goal is to stay on my feet.
This is my first long race of 2018. Fingers crossed that it reignites my love of running and racing. I need these miles to hit 100 miles for March and I need these miles to remind me how to run long.
And then I’m going to come home, take a super hot shower, and eat all the things.