Marine Corps Marathon
October 22, 2000
Race Report by Bob Dolphin
At 8:30 a.m. on October 22, 2000, I couldn't believe I was at the starting
line of the Marine Corps Marathon, "The People's Marathon."
Last January I found out that registration forms for this race would be
released on February 15th. After getting nothing but busy signals on February
15th and 16th, I wrote to Rick Nealis, the race director, asking for a
registration form. In this letter I mentioned that I had been a Marine for six
and a half years and also commented on my marathoning record.
After the letter was mailed, I tried the "800" number one more
time with a devastating response, "The Marine Corps Marathon is
full!" Between February 15th and 17th, 13,000 registrations had been
received on the Internet and 12,000 more had been handled by mail to reach
their cap of 25,000!
Thinking it was a lost cause for the year 2000, I was pleasantly surprised
to receive an entry form from the race director....requesting that I submit it
to his attention.
The race number he assigned me was "249" giving me a starting
position in the "seeded" section. (Who, me???) It's now October 22,
and I'm listening to the Marine Hymn, the national anthem, and the welcoming
speeches and watching the presentation of the colors. Then came the countdown
to the start of the silver anniversary running of the Marine Corps
Marathon....and within two seconds I had crossed the starting line and was
beginning my "tour" of Washington, DC!
This beautiful course passed the Pentagon and returned to the start area
before crossing a bridge to Georgetown in the District of Columbia. Then the
major landmarks were passed in quick succession: The Lincoln Memorial, several
museums, the Supreme Court Building, the Capitol Building, the Smithsonian
Institute, the Washington Monument and, finally, the Jefferson Memorial. What
a tour!! We then ran around a golf course at East Potomac Park on a riverside
road before crossing a bridge that returned us to the Pentagon. This was
followed by a two mile run to the Marine Corps Memorial and the finish line.
The first half of my race went well (1:55:50.) Then the heat of the day
took its toll, and I faded to a 10 minute pace in the last 10K, struggling to
a 4:05:27 finish. After I found Lenore at the VIP tent, she was able to find
my personal results on a computer. My finishing time placed me at 3,258
overall, 2,584 male runner, and FIRST of 26 in the 70-74M division. I couldn't
believe it with the way my day had gone and with the national talent that
comes to a big, high prestige marathon. I gladly accepted the honor....happy
that my year-long first place string wasn't broken at the Marine Corps
The temperature for this race was in the 60's at the start, and the sky was
clear. By the finish, the temperature had climbed to the low 70's, and light
breezes were added to the clear skies.
The race was won by Richard Cochrane, 27, from Harpswell, ME, in a time of
2:25:50. In second and third were Juan Lopez, 33, from Mexico (2:28:32) and
Mark Cucuzzella, 34, from Denver, CO (2:28:55.) The first woman to finish was
Elizabeth Ruel, 33, of Laval, QU, Canada, in a time of 2:47:46. The next two
women to finish were Liz Speegle, 33, from Woodbridge, VA (2:52:04) and Connie
Davis, 32, from Croton, NY (2:58:03.)
I saw only three runners on the course whom I knew. Wally Kastner, 55, of
Carmel, CA, and race director of the Big Sur Marathon, and Susan Meyer, 33, of
Monterey, CA, passed me in the 14th mile near the Capitol. They finished in
3:51:03. Todd Byers, 37, a 100+ marathoner, long time friend from Long Beach,
CA, and former vice president of the Seattle Marathon, chatted for a few
minutes as he passed me in the 20th mile. He finished in a time of 3:53:19. At
the finish area, Bob Lehew, 57, director of the Oklahoma Marathon and a 50
Stater, told me that he ran a 3:54:57. Gina Moore from Fort Worth, TX, who
runs 16 marathons a year, ran in 4:23:00. These runners all said that the heat
had impaired their performances.
In the 23rd mile, Jeff Galloway ran by with several students. They had bibs
on the backs of their T-shirts that proclaimed, "Galloway Pacer -
4:00." They probably made their goal. I wanted to run with them, but my
legs wouldn't cooperate. Jeff Galloway is a well-known runner, a former
Olympian, and author of running books who conducts running camps and tours. He
is a proponent of walking breaks during a marathon to guarantee reaching the
finish line. In the marathon he had pacers run with groups according to their
Many thanks to Rick Nealis, his staff of 11, and the 3,000 volunteers
(including 2,200 men and women Marines in uniform) for putting on a great
marathon. It was the most remarkable experience that Lenore and I have had
marathoning. We had met Rick Nealis, 10 year director of the Marine Corps
Marathon, at the Race Directors Workshop at the Portland Marathon three weeks
earlier. A friendly relationship developed, and he really treated us well!! We
were invited to the Marine Corps Marathon 2-day Race Directors Workshop and
given access to the VIP tent at the finish line. At the start, Lenore was on
the viewing stand, and I was assigned to the seeded section. Rick and his
staff of thousands of Marine Corps personnel run this well-organized event
like a military operation. It's a "People's Race" in support of all
of the runners. For example, no prize money is available for elite runners.
After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps for six and a half years in the post
World War II and Korean War period, I felt right at home in this marathon. The
Marine Band played at the Crystal City Hyatt Hotel (Race Headquarters) and at
the start and finish areas. For many miles I followed two runners who ran with
the U.S. flag and the Marine colors. Many of the runners who ran in this 25th
Anniversary race were Marines on active duty or were veterans. In the field
were five runners who had run all of the Marine Corps Marathons and were
running their 25th on October 22, 2000. It all lived up to my expectations.
Thanks, also, to Peg and Jim Coleman of Boyds, MD, for their gracious
hospitality. Lenore and Peg were high school classmates at Snohomish High
School many years ago. They hadn't seen each other since their 1947
graduation, so they had a lot of catching up to do.
I remember 1947 well. Those were happy times that I spent as a Marine Corps
private at Camp Pendleton in Southern California. Participating in the Marine
Corps Marathon rekindled many old memories of my time in the Corps.
Written by Bob Dolphin