ARLINGTON, Va. -- Runners and spectators could not have asked for a better day to participate in the 30th annual Marine Corps Marathon Sunday. Sunny skies and cool weather made for a perfect backdrop for the yearly event, which started under the Arlington Memorial Bridge.
Dubbed the “People’s Marathon,” it attracted people of all ages and backgrounds. Approximately thirty thousand people from all 50 states and 44 different countries came to Washington, breaking last year’s registration record of 22,666.
The Navy parachute team, the Leap Frogs, ushered in the event with their aerial show. They jumped off aircraft, freefalling toward the crowd. Just as they appeared to come within just yards from the ground, the jumpers deployed their bright, blue and yellow canopies, displaying the words “Navy Seal.”
The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Michael W. Hagee, and Marine icon and host of the History Channel’s “Mail Call,” Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey, were on hand to start the race. Miles, the Marine Corps Marathon mascot, was also there to motivate the runners before the competition.
The race was divided into several different categories. The Navy team, consisting of six members, finished first in the MCM Armed Forces category with a combined time of 10:39:48. The Marine Corps team was only 20 minutes behind, while the Army and Air Force trailed the other two.
Twenty-four-year-old Baltimore resident Ryan Schmidt, who crossed the finish line in 28:41, won the 8K race. Another 24-year-old, Johanna Allen, was the top female to complete the course. The Woodbridge native was behind Schmidt by only 55 seconds.
Wheelers and handcrankers also participated in the race with outstanding results. Top wheeler, 59-year-old C. David Swaim of Wake Forest, N.C. completed the 26.2-mile course in 2:18:04, while the fastest handcranker, Todd Philpott, a 48-year-old New York City native finished in at 2:12:15. Holly Koester, 45, of Cleveland, was the sole female wheeler of the race, coming in at 4:06:12, while Port Jervis, N.Y. native, Kristy Digger, finished the handcrank race in 2:54:17, making her the female leader in her category.
And last, but certainly not least, the Marine Corps Marathon. Top honors were given to male and female leaders Ruben Garcia, 34, member of the Mexican Marines; and Susannah Kvasnicka, 33, of Great Falls, Va. They completed the 26.2-miler in 2:22:18 and 2:47:10, respectively.
The 31st Marine Corps Marathon will be held Oct. 29, 2006. Online registration will begin May 17, 2006. For more details, logon to www.marinemarathon.com