The Marine Corps Marathon is going virtual for the first time because of the coronavirus pandemic, race organizers announced Monday.
The 45th annual 26.2-mile race, starting near the Pentagon and ending at the Marine Corps War Memorial, was scheduled for Oct. 25. About 21,500 runners and walkers were registered for the marathon, race director Rick Nealis said.
When Mayor Muriel Bowser announced last week that the public health emergency in Washington, D.C., was being extended until at least Oct. 9, that sealed the race’s decision to go online only, Nealis said.
“We knew we couldn’t put on the race without the coordination,’’ Nealis said.
The inaugural Marine Corps Marathon was run in 1976. It has gone off every year since, even in 2001, when the race was held less than two months after the Sept. 11 attacks.
“I thought we could really accomplish the same thing [this year],’’ said Nealis, a retired Marine major. “Bring back normalcy. Bring back our sport. Bring back our love of running and community good will and camaraderie, so that’s disappointing that we were not able to do that.
“This is bigger than terrorists. Terrorists, we know how to protect and do certain things that we have in our arsenal. This is something different.’’
Other Marine Corps Marathon Weekend events that are moving virtually are a 10-kilometer race, a 50K ultramarathon and a Semper Fun Mile. All races must be completed between Oct. 1 and Nov. 10, the date that the Marine Corps was founded in 1775.
Virtual event registration is open to the public. It’s $45 for the marathon and 50K, $33 for the 10K and $20 for the Semper Fun Mile.
Read tips for a virtual run.
Marathon and 50K runners can request a full refund or defer their registration to 2021, ’22 or ’23 without an additional charge. Runners who already deferred will have their $30 deferment fee refunded and can choose to remain deferred or receive a refund.
Runners who previously switched from the live to virtual event can request a refund of the registration fee, minus the $45 virtual entry charge, or cancel their registration and receive a full refund.
Any decision must be made by Aug. 5. Refunds, minus processing fees, will begin Aug. 6 and should take 4-6 weeks.
More details are available at marinemarathon.com.
“On Oct. 25, that’s where I’m going to have the letdown,’’ said Nealis, who has been the Marine Corps Marathon’s director for 28 years and has run it three times. “That’s going to be the emotional day, and I’m probably going to find myself drifting to that memorial and spending some time and reflecting on all the good things we have in this world.’’