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A Marine motivates Paul Kelly, a native of North Carolina, as he pushes through the last stretch of the 39th Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Va. Twenty-six thousand, one hundred sixty-one marathon runners crossed the start line this year.

Photo by Cpl. Sarah Luna

Marine Corps Marathon still running after 39 years

28 Oct 2014 | Cpl. Fareeza Ali Defense Media Activity

U.S. Marine and Medal of Honor recipient Cpl. Kyle Carpenter skydived through the crisp morning air to the starting line as competitors started to amass on the long stretch of road awaiting the blast of a Howitzer starting the 39th Marine Corps Marathon.

 Wounded Warriors in wheelchairs and hand cycles, active duty and veteran service members, and civilian runners from all over the earth flocked to the Nation’s Capital, Oct. 26.

“This is my third marathon, and it’s amazing that all 26 miles somebody was there to call for you,” said U.S. Army Spc. Samuel Kosgei, the first place male finisher of the marathon. “Everybody was there cheering for you and you need that, you get so motivated, and it helps me a lot.” 

“I was hurting the last two miles and they kept telling me, ‘You got it, keep pushing it,’ and I thought, ‘They’re right, they see something in me, so I need to push myself,’ and that’s what I needed.”

For the males, Kosgei finished at 2:22:12, followed by Laban Sialo at 2:23:48 and Justin Turner at 2:25:05. 

U.S. Army Captain Megan Curran finished first for the females at 2:51:47, followed by Lindsay Wilkins at 2:52:20 and Gina Slaby at 2:52:32.

“Finishing a marathon is a big deal, because with 26 miles you’re going to feel pain at some point,” Kosgei said. “Taking that pain and staying at the same pace [is] a good personal motivation.”

All other awards, including the USMC Award for the top male and female active duty U.S. Marine finishers, the 10K overall award for male and female, and the Hand Cycle and Wheelchair Division awards were decided according to a chip embedded in each runner’s bib. The chip, dubbed the “B-tag”, started recording as the runners crossed the start line and stopped at the finish.

While keeping the required 14 minute-per-mile pace, runners on the course passed the Potomac River onto the “Run to Honor” segment where American flags lined the street to commemorate service members, who have given the ultimate sacrifice. 

Continuing on, runners got a glimpse of the Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. They then were taken to the monuments of the Nation’s past battles - the Korean and World War II Memorial. They ran past the Capitol Dome, alongside the Pentagon, finally finishing at the Marine Corps War Memorial.

The marathon has come a long way since it’s first run in 1976. Today it is the ninth largest marathon in the world, the fourth largest in the United States, and the largest marathon in the world that doesn’t offer prize money.

“Being in D.C., with all the armed services, wounded warriors, and team red white and blue, it pumps you up and makes you proud to be an American, to be a service member,” said Curran. “The support from the community is amazing.”