Marine Corps Marathon
October 28, 2001
Race Report by Bob Dolphin
Following the terrorist hijacking of a commercial airplane and
the suicide bombing of the Pentagon Building in Washington, DC,
on September 11. 2001, the 18,000 runners for the Army 10 Miler
had their race canceled. Then there were concerns that the Marine
Corps Marathon should also be canceled. However, Rick Nealis,
director of the marathon, marathon staff members, Brigadier General
J. Composto, Commanding General of the Marine Corps Base at Quantico,
and others of the staff developed a security plan that convinced
the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and Washington, DC, officials
that the plans for the race should proceed. Colonel David Wright,
Chief of Staff at Quantico, announced, "This race is important
to the country as well as the international community." At the
pre-race functions and at the race events, the security was greatly
increased over last year. There were more marines carying weapons,
and picture I.D. was required at entrances. Checked baggage of
the runners had to be in clear plastic bags that were provided
for all participants.
The marine volunteers and the runners were very upbeat. Patriotic
T-shirts, ribbons and temporary flag tattoos were seen on many
runners, and the United States flag was carried by some. The starting
ceremonies amplified the mood with short speeches, a prayer, the
singing of the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance said
by all. The weather was good with temperatures in the 40's and
50's. The sky was clear, and the winds were light. Shortly after
the 8:30 a.m. start on October 28, 2001, we ran through an underpass,
and the runners chanted, "USA, USA....." Everyone became somber
when we ran within a tenth of a mile of the damaged section of
the Pentagon Building. It was hard to comprehend the loss of 189
lives in an instant at that site.
After crossing the Potomac River in the 10th mile, there was
a tour of Georgetown and Rock Creek Parkway. This was followed
by the grand tour of the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Memorial,
the White House, Union Station, the Capitol Building, the Mall,
the Tidal Basin, and the Jefferson Memorial. Then we re-crossed
the river and proceeded to the start/finish area by the Marine
Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Monument) adjacent to the Arlington
Cemetery. There were many supportive spectators who cheered the
runners on and bolstered our spirits. This was especially true
in downtown Washington.
The most memorable event at a pre-race reception three days
before the marathon was the induction of several members into
the Marine Corps Marathon Hall of Fame. At the reception, newly
retired master gunnery sergeant Farley Simon, 46, of Honolulu
was introduced as the marine who won the marathon in 1983. He
had been inducted into this hall of fame at its inaugural event
the previous year. I was impressed by his 1983 accomplishment,
but then I was REALLY impressed after I finished the marathon
to learn that he had won this year again with a time of 2:28:28.
It is extremely rare for a 46 year old to win a big city marathon
with over 15,000 runners. Farley had taken the lead in the 21st
mile when the favored runner, Paul Zimmerman, 40 of Cedar Creek,
TX, (15th, 2:38:24) had cramped up.
Finishing second and third were Juan Escorcia, 34, of Mexico
with a 2:29:31 and Steve Payne, 45, United Kingdom with 2:31:27.)
Four of the first seven finishers were over the age of 42. Truly
a day for Masters!
In first place for the women's race was Lori Stick Zimmerman,
31, of Beaverton, OR, with a time of 2:48:13 and 49th overall.
She led all of the way and was followed to the finish by Tara
Pointin, 26, of Raleigh, NC (2:53:57) and Linsay Gannon, 35, of
the United Kingdom (2:54:46).
The pasta feed dinner the night before the race at the headquarters
hotel was delightful with music, good food, and pleasant company.
Lenore and I were joined by Gunhild and Jack Swanson of Spokane.
Gunhild, Jack and I compared notes on hamstring pulls and what
effect these ornery afflictions to our main leg muscles have on
our running abilities. We also visited before and after the race
in the VIP tent at the finish area and compared notes about our
personal experiences on the race course.
Also at our table at the pasta feed was Peter Graham, our friend
from London, England, who had run our inaugural
YAKIMA RIVER CANYON MARATHON. Coming with him was Brian Doherty,
a founder and former secretary of the United Kingdom's 100 Marathon
Club. Peter is the current secretary and brought with him the
huge, silver 100 Marathon Cup from London. It has the engraved
names of members, their hometowns, and the dates of their 100
marathon completion. I was pleased to see my name on the cup reflecting
Brian's invitation for my 1997 addition to the club roster when
I ran the London Marathon that year. When Peter ran our March
31st marathon, he asked me to form an associated club, the 100
Marathon Club - North American Branch. Since then I've had a lot
of enthusiastic responses from runners in the United States and
Canada who are eligible to join.
Joining the six of us at the pasta feed table were Larry Abbott,
54, of Etowah, TN, and his son Jason. Larry's first marathon was
to have been the Air Force Marathon at Wright Patterson Air Force
Base, Ohio, on September 22. The events of September 11th caused
this race to be canceled, so he chose to run the Quad Cities Marathon
in Moline, IL, on September 23 as his first. An invitation to
all registrants of the canceled Air Force Marathon to run the
Marine Corps Marathon gave him the opportunity to participate
in Washington, DC, on October 28.
It had been exactly a month since I pulled my right hamstring
at the Portland Marathon and had to limp the last two miles to
finish in 4:36:57. A week later, walking at the Royal Victoria
Marathon was slow and painful, so I became a spectator and enjoyed
it. Two weeks later at the Spokane Marathon it was more of the
same as I was saving myself for the Marine Corps Marathon. The
start of the latter went well. I ran a 10 minute pace for four
miles, and then a hamstring cramp occurred at the old injury.
By 10K it was obvious that I couldn't run the whole way. I walked
a few miles at a 16 minute pace and then ran at a 10 minute pace
for three more miles. By the halfway split at 2:35, sustained
running didn't work. I changed to a repeated run/walk pattern,
shifting from one to the other every few minutes. This worked
well, and I enjoyed run/walking by the many Washington memorials
and government buildings. I even saw the White House in the distance....something
that I had missed in the 2000 marathon. Eventually, I reached
the finish line in 5:16:43 (12:00), 11,163 overall and 9th 70+
There were 15,011 starters and 14,606 finishers, but I only
knew a handful in the race. They are listed below......* denotes
50 States & DC Group......
3:40:05, Will Wright, 64, Mobile, AL*......3:57:13, Gunhild
Swanson, 57, Spokane, WA......4:12:52, Les Wright, 59, Director
of the Lake Tahoe Marathon, Tahoe, CA......4:15:52, Brian Doherty,
54, London, England......4:18:45, Larry Abbott, 54, Etowah, TN......4:30:20,
Peter Graham, 36, London England*......4:38:58, Don Withers, 63,
Mobile, AL*......4:39:48, Todd Byers, 37, a board of directors
member of the Seattle Marathon, Long Beach, CA......4:39:55, Jack
Swanson, 67, Spokane, WA......4:54:18, Boonsom Hartman, 43, Oak
Forest, IL*......5:16:43, Bob Dolphin, 72, Renton & Yakima, WA*.
Our thanks and congratulations go to Rick Nealis, his staff,
and the many volunteers and Marines who make this marathon one
of the best in the country. It is no wonder why the entries reach
the allowed cap within a few days after registration opens!!
Written by Bob Dolphin